WMG makes biggest recorded music market share gains of 2015; indies cement publishing lead

The annual survey by Ovum publication Music & Copyright of the recorded music and music publishing sectors has revealed changes in global market share for the three major music groups and the independent sector. Recorded music leader UMG lost market share in 2015, but WMG, the smallest of the three majors, made the biggest gains. SME experienced a slight increase in its share. Sony/ATV remained the leader in terms of corporate publishing control, despite its share edging down. UMPG was the only major publisher to increase its market share. However, the collective share of the independent publishing sector registered the biggest share rise, with leading indies BMG and Kobalt making impressive gains.

Modest movement in record company market shares
Following a couple of years of consolidation, restructuring, and company selloffs in both the recorded music and music publishing sectors after the breakup of EMI Music Group, last year could be described as much more stable for market share. The sale of EMI’s record and publishing divisions impacted the market share figures for the major music groups in 2014, but with both sectors more settled, market share changes in 2015 were modest.

UMG maintains recorded music lead
According to Music & Copyright, UMG had a 33.5% share of combined physical and digital recorded music trade revenue last year, down from 34.1% in 2014. For physical revenue only, UMG’s share stood at 31.6%, Its digital share stood at 35.6%.

Record companies, physical and digital revenue market shares, 2013–15 (%)
Recorded shares 2015
Source: Music & Copyright

SME was the second-largest music company, with a virtually unchanged combined physical/digital market share of 22.6% in 2015. SME’s physical and digital market shares edged up last year compared with 2014. The smallest of the three majors, WMG, experienced the biggest share gains of the majors. The company’s share of revenue from physical recorded music sales stood at 16.3% in 2015, up from 15.7% in 2014. For digital, its share gain was marginally lower, rising to 18.2% from 17.7%. WMG’s combined physical/digital share grew, to 17.1%, from 16.7%.

The independent record companies’ share of combined physical/digital revenue rose last year, to 26.8%, from 26.7% in 2014. The sector increased its share of physical revenue but its digital share edged down. The independents’ share of physical formats remained higher than its digital share.

No change in major publisher rankings
Sony/ATV held its lead last year despite a market share decrease. The company accounted for 28.3% of global publishing revenue, down from 29.5% in 2014. Sony/ATV took the top spot in 2013 following the purchase of EMI Music Publishing by a Sony-led consortium in 2012. Although Sony/ATV and EMI MP are still separate companies (with EMI MP repertoire administered by Sony/ATV), Music & Copyright has combined the companies’ shares.

Music publishing companies, revenue market shares, 2013–15 (%)
Source: Music & Copyright

UMPG was the second-largest music publisher last year with a 23.1% share. Of the three major publishers, UMPG was the only one to register a share increase. Third-placed Warner Chappell’s share edged down in 2015, to 12.4%.

Independent companies extend their lead
Independent music publishers have long dominated music publishing and compete well with the majors for major artists’ attention. Last year, the independent music publishing sector experienced an increase in share. Music & Copyright estimates that independent companies accounted for 36.2% of publishing revenue, compared with 35% in 2014.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.