UMG and SME put the market share squeeze on WMG and the independent sector

Music & Copyright’s annual survey of the recorded-music and music publishing sectors has revealed the changes in global market share for the three major music groups and the independent sector. In a repeat of the last review, UMG enhanced its position as the global leader. The company registered growth in its recorded-music market share, while the publishing unit UMPG saw the biggest share gain for any music publisher for more than 10 years. SME saw its total recorded-music share return to growth after three years of decline. Although Sony’s publishing share was down year-on-year, the company’s market share for total music revenue edged upwards. Smaller major WMG suffered a share fall for both recorded-music and music publishing. The independent sector also saw its recorded-music and music publishing shares edge down. Although the indie grouping remained the clear leader for publishing, recorded-music gains for UMG saw the combined indie company share slip to second spot.

Recorded-music share gains for UMG and SME
According to Music & Copyright, UMG increased its share of combined physical and digital recorded-music trade revenue last year, to 32.1%, from 31.8% in 2019 (see Figure 1). For digital revenue only, UMG’s share was up, to 34.1%, from 33.8%, while its physical share was unchanged, at 25.8%.

Figure 1: Record companies, physical- and digital-revenue market shares, 2019 and 2020
Source: Music & Copyright

SME was the second-largest record company and its combined physical/digital market share also increased last year, to 20.6%, from 19.8% in 2019. Ending three straight years of decline, SME’s physical format share grew, to 21.3%, from 18.3%, while the company’s digital market share edged up, to 20.5%, from 20.2%. SME’s share of all recorded-music trade revenue, which includes licensing and other revenue as well as income from physical and digital music sales, was up, to 20.8%, from 20.3% (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Record companies, total recorded-music-revenue market shares, 2019 and 2020
Source: Music & Copyright

The smaller of the three majors, WMG, experienced a share fall for both physical and digital. Furthermore, the gap between its physical and digital shares widened. WMG’s physical format share slipped, to 10.5%, from 11.7%, while its digital share experienced a more modest decline, to 17.6%, from 17.9%.
Although the independent sector’s physical share remained high, at 42.4%, the share was down on the prior year’s 44.2%. The digital share also fell last year, to 27.9%, from 28.1%. The results meant the combined physical/digital revenue share for independent companies decreased, from 31.9% to 31.6%, just behind leading major UMG.

Sony just holds on to the publishing lead
In line the way in which Music & Copyright determines global recorded-music market shares, music publishing market shares are also based on revenue received by each company. Music & Copyright has calculated that global music publishing revenue grew 5.2% last year, to $5.9bn, from $5.6bn in 2019. The growth rate was up on the 2.2% rise in 2019, but down on the 11.4% increase in 2018. Sony maintained its leading position ahead of UMPG, but the gap between the two narrowed, to just 1.5 percentage points. Sony’s share, which is made up of revenue from Sony/ATV, EMI Music Publishing (EMI MP), and Sony Music Publishing Japan, slipped slightly, to 24.5%, from 25% (see Figure 3). Sony took the top spot in 2013 following the purchase of EMI MP by a Sony-led consortium in 2012. Sony then acquired the approximate 60% of the interest in EMI MP held by the consortium in November 2018, resulting in EMI MP becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony.

Figure 3: Music-publishing companies, revenue market shares, 2019 and 2020
Source: Music & Copyright

UMPG enhanced its position as the second-largest music publisher with a share increase of two percentage points, to 23%, from 21%. Furthermore, for the second year in a row, UMPG was the only major publisher to increase its share. Third placed Warner Chappell Music saw its share fall, to 11.2%, from 11.6%. Although the collective share of independent music publishers maintained a healthy lead, the share slipped one percentage point, to 41.3% last year, from 42.3% in 2019.

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