HITS Daily Double
Rob Stringer’s Columbia/Epic ended Atlantic’s two-year run as the #1 label group, registering a jaw-dropping 9.2% (from 8.3%).


If 2010 Was a Year of Wall-to-Wall Transition, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
Here are the biggest stories of 2010, 12 months of heated activity in all the key sectors of the industry: records, publishing, digital and touring. Today, I.B. concludes his look back on the wild and challenging year with a scorecard on the majors…

UMG: Heir apparent Lucian Grainge is about to become sole ruler of the long-dominant and still top-ranked music group, though UMG’s piece of the pie has increased to 34.4% in new-release marketshare, compared to 33.5% at this point in 2009. On the label-group front, Mel Lewinter’s surging UMRG leads the in-house competition with 8.3% in new-release share, compared to 5.4% a year ago, behind Big Machine/Universal Republic’s Taylor Swift, whose latest release, Speak Now (2010’s #3 seller), has moved 2.35m in six weeks, while 2008’s Fearless (#15), added 873k, taking it to 4.9m. Monte Lipman’s label also scored with Jack Johnson (#22, 687k). The above-mentioned newcomer Drake (#7) paced Sylvia Rhone’s Universal Motown, which also sold 563k units to date of Lil Wayne’s latest (#29)… UMRG’s big year vaulted it ahead of IGA, under Jimmy Iovine and Vice Chairman Steve Berman, despite the fact that the label group’s share is 7.5%, up a notch from last year’s 7.3%. In Eminem’s Recovery, IGA has the year’s best seller with 3.14m, followed by Lady Gaga (1.61m for #5 Fame; 851k for #16 The Fame Monster) and the Black Eyed Peas (#10, 1.13k on the year, with a new LP entering the picture)… L.A. Reid, Steve Bartels and David Massey’s IDJ rose to 6.2% from 4.4%, as rookie of the year frontrunner Justin Bieber (#4 and #12) piled up the points, Kanye West (#24 and moving up with 673k in two weeks), #31 Ludacris (539k) and #32 Rihanna (534k)… Luke LewisUMG Nashville (flat at 1.5%) was once again paced by #27 Sugarland (620k)… Of the distributed labels, Disney had an atypically quiet year, dropping to 2.5% from 5.1%, and Concord logged 1.2%, led by Carole King & James Taylor’s Live at the Troubadour (#34, 513k).

SONY MUSIC: The #2 music group has enjoyed a prosperous year despite slipping slightly to 26.8% from 28.2% in new-release marketshare. Rob Stringer’s Columbia/Epic ended Atlantic’s two-year run as the #1 label group, registering a jaw-dropping 9.2% (from 8.3%). Steve Barnett’s Columbia was by far the primary contributor, with 7.1%, the best of any individual label (compared to 6.1% a year ago) via Susan Boyle (with her hot-selling holiday album #6 at 1.42m, while last year’s breakthrough debut has sold another 952k, good for #14), big-voiced youngster Jackie Evancho (#25 with 671k on her Christmas LP) and the mother lode: a series of releases from the Glee cast (their domestic 2010 total now at 2.8m albums and 11m tracks)... The situation is fluid, to say the least, at sister label Epic, where the brief reign of Amanda Ghost came to an end after just 21 months. The label did manage one bona fide hit with #7 Sade (1.26m), which joined the residue of last year’s Michael Jackson windfall to bring Epic a 2.2% (a big drop-off from 2009’s M.J.-powered 4.7%). After erupting to 8.3m domestically last year, Jackson’s sales dropped to 1.6m, compared to 1.3m in 2008… RMG/JLG contributed 7.1% in new-release share (up from 6.7%) in what has turned out to be Barry Weiss’ final year at the company. The RCA/Jive hit parade comprised #9 Usher (1.16m), #11 Ke$ha (1.07m), #18 Alicia Keys (743k) and #33 Monica (520k). At Sony Nashville (2.7% from 2.5%), where Joe Galante was succeeded as CEO by Gary Overton, the heavy hitters were Carrie Underwood (#20, 707k) and Miranda Lambert (#21, 706k)… The imminent exit of Rolf Schmidt-Holtz and the naming of his successor will be the big story early next year, but this is a solid, consistent company with experienced leadership in place, so Sony shouldn’t miss a beat during the transition. Later in the year, Columbia will become the beneficiary of the newly minted artists and music thrown off by the U.S. version of Simon Cowell’s X Factor. As for the status of Rick Rubin, many are surprised that he’s still officially at Columbia, his return to WMG having been predicted for months.

WARNER MUSIC: With a dearth of superstar releases for the second year in a row, the lone remaining American-owned music group lost ground in new-release marketshare, with 13.9%, nearly two percentage points behind 2009’s 15.8%. Craig Kallman and Julie Greenwald’s Atlantic experienced the biggest drop-off in the label group new-release competition, plummeting from an industry-leading 8.6%, a year ago to 6.4%, with the biggest seller a two-year-old LP from country group the Zac Brown Band (#13, 968k for the year), followed by Trey Songz (#28, 563k)… On the West Coast, Lyor Cohen attempted to awaken the recently dormant Warner Bros. Records, replacing Tom Whalley with the triumvirate of Chairman Rob Cavallo and Co-Presidents Todd Moscowitz and Livia Tortella. It will take time for the new team to reinvigorate WBR, which improbably managed to pick up nearly a percentage point in share to 6% from 5.1%, despite moving the needle only with Michael Buble’s 2009 album (#19, adding 734k year-to-date) and Linkin Park (#30, 544k), causing wonderers to wonder, how’d they do that?

EMI: The underdog #4 music group kept battling, scoring a near-miraculous 9.9% overall—a Blake Griffin-like leap from 2009’s 9.2%—despite continuing ownership uncertainty and a game of musical chairs at CEO, as Elio Leoni-Sceti was replaced by Charles Allen, who was himself ousted as sanity finally prevailed and the clued-in Roger Faxon was given the keys to the car. While the capable and highly regarded North American chief Ron Werre departed in the transition, Faxon inherited the experienced executive team Werre had assembled, led by Colin Finkelstein and Greg Thompson… The year’s biggest seller for Capitol/Virgin (2.9%) was Katy Perry (#17, 786k). But the charge was led by country act Lady Antebellum, which crossed over in dramatic fashion, notching up the year’s second best-selling album, now at 2.93m. Both Perry and Lady A were big promotion victories for Thompson… It will be interesting to see what EMI looks like a year from now—but the same can also be said for the rest of the Big Four.