Indies More Major Than Majors

Universal Music Group is easily the world’s largest record company with 34.1 percent of the market, but its biggest challenge now comes from the independent sector.

In the two years that Merlin chief Charles Caldas won IMPALA’s Outstanding Contribution Award for turning the indies into “the fourth major,” with 10 percent of the recorded music market, they’re now in second place with 26.7 percent.

In the last year UMG’s share has dropped from 36.7 percent. Music & Copyright’s annual market survey shows Sony is in third place with 22.5 percent and Warner fourth with 16.7 percent. Following two years of consolidation in the recorded-music and music-publishing sectors after the breakup of EMI Music Group and the subsequent sales of EMI’s record and publishing divisions, restructuring and company selloffs have had an impact on the market share figures for the major music groups in 2014.

When the asset sales needed to gain regulatory approval for the majors’ purchasing various lumps of EMI have all gone through, the indies may further close the gap on UMG.

The independents already top the publishing market, bolstered by BMG Rights Management’s 5.4 percent share and Kobalt’s 3.9 percent stake. Sony/ATV is the world’s largest “major” music publisher with a 29.5 percent of the market, benefiting from heading the consortium that bought EMI’s publishing, Universal Music Publishing has 23 percent, while Warner/Chappell – once the world’s biggest publisher – now only has a 12.5 percent share.

Music & Copyright calculated that global music publishing revenue grew 2.5 percent in 2014 from $3.95 billion to $4.05 billion.