HITS Daily Double


The end of the year is still more than two weeks away, but we can say with certainty that Republic will be the #1 overall label of 2023 following a fierce back-and-forth battle with Interscope Geffen A&M. Republic currently leads by more than 1.6m units, and although IGA has the advantage in holiday music, that won’t be enough to jump its UMG rival. Meanwhile, in the meaningful current sector, Republic is on a historic roll, racking up an insurmountable 13.3% of the market, 4.5% above the field.

Monte and Avery Lipman’s juggernaut boasts a murderers’ row of megastars. Consider that, of nearly 1 billion total units in the U.S. YTD, Taylor Swift has 17m as of the week ending 11/23, including 2.9m for #3 Midnights and 2.29m for #4 1989 (Taylor’s Version), the two biggest of her 10 Top 50 albums YTD—gobbling up a nearly 2% share of the overall market. Big Loud’s Morgan Wallen (who has the year’s #1 and five LPs) and Drake (with four Top 50 LPs) are each at 0.9%, giving Republic 3.9% of its 9.8% overall share. Boominati’s Metro Boomin (#9), XO’s The Weekend (#23) and Mercury neo-folk-rocker Noah Kahan (#25) continue to move albums and feast at the DSPs.

John Janick’s IGA, at 9.6 overall, remains close to its recent peaks, with Geffen’s Olivia Rodrigo (#19) substantiating her status as a next-gen superstar alongside Darkroom/Interscope’s universally acclaimed Billie Eilish. But Atlantic, the #3 label in overall (8.2%) and current (7%), is mired in a rare cold streak, with just two Top 50 albums. Most expect the storied label to regain its clout in the coming months.

As of 11/23, no less than 22 albums—from Wallen, TDE/RCA’s SZA (#2), Swift, Epic’s Travis Scott (#7), Metro Boomin (#9), Rimas/The Orchard’s Bad Bunny (#10), Warner’s Zach Bryan (#11), Drake, Double P/Prajin’s música Mexicana torchbearer Peso Pluma (#14), River House/Columbia Nashville’s Luke Combs (#15), UMLE (and now Interscope) Latin star KAROL G (#16), Rodrigo and Warner Nashville’s Bailey Zimmerman (#20)—have surpassed 1m total units YTD. That number could be close to 30 by year’s end, with The Weekend, Columbia’s Miley Cyrus, Kahan, Bryan’s latest, Atlantic’s Barbie: The Album and Columbia’s Harry Styles (#28) all north of 900k and gift-giving season underway. Swift, by the way, has eight albums north of 1m this year, with both versions of 1989 on that list.

The biggest contemporary superstars—also including RCA’s Doja Cat, Parkwood/Columbia’s Beyoncé, pgLang/TDE/Aftermath/Interscope’s Kendrick Lamar and Eilish—encompass country, pop, Latin and hip-hop; several are outliers who’ve sprung from alternative distribution platforms.

The action is intense on the genre level as well. Naturally, the majors are throwing money at the country and Latin sectors, which is speeding the mainstreaming of these exploding genres. Country has 8.6% of the overall market, a full percentage point over this time last year, while Latin is at 6.9%, compared to 6.4% in 2022 and 5.4% at the end of 2021—five months before Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti changed the game.

Country conventions are being overturned by streaming and new blood like Oklahoma’s Bryan (who accounts for a significant portion of WMG’s 19.6% in country overall marketshare), genre-obliterating Jelly Roll and emerging superstar Lainey Wilson (both on Jon Loba’s Broken Bow) and country-rocker HARDY (on Seth England’s Big Loud). These heavy hitters are rubbing elbows with Bailey Zimmerman (#20) and Cole Swindell, signed to Ben Kline and Cris Lacy’s Warner Music Nashville (whose acts contribute to WMG’s country share); Combs (#15, #37), the biggest hitmaker at Randy Goodman’s Sony Music Nashville (15.8% in overall share), bolstered by Kane Brown, Megan Maroney and Corey Kent; and Stapleton, the flagship artist of Cindy Mabe’s catalog-rich UMG Nashville (16.9% in overall), while Jordan Davis and Tyler Hubbard are generating solid streams. UMG’s slice of the country pie is primarily attributable to Wallen, who’s largely responsible for Republic’s 13.1%.

Sony has claimed 43.9% of the Latin overall market, with The Orchard (please don’t call it a distributor) at 21.7%, paced by Bunny and Pluma, and Afo Verde’s Sony Latin sitting at 19.7 in overall share. Jesús López’s UMLE, at 22.2% overall, has the lion’s share of UMG’s 33.5%. Alejandro Duque’s Warner Latina makes up the bulk of WMG’s 8.5. IGA’s Miami-based Latin division, led by Nir Seroussi, is in play with 2.3%, thanks primarily to KAROL G and Kali Uchis.

As for the Big 3, Sir Lucian Grainge’s UMG posts 35.7% in overall share, but Rob Stringer’s extended hot streak has propelled Sony to 27+ in both metrics. WMG (17.1 overall, 18.7 current), nearing the conclusion of Robert Kyncl’s first year, is getting younger (with the key addition of Elliot Grainge’s 10K) and techier as the former YouTube boss brings some of his top former team members into the fold of the morphing music group.

Dollying back to the macro, the music business has hit 1b units in total activity YTD, a 12.8% uptick. Total streams are at 1.35 trillion YTD, a +14.7% jump. No less than 44m vinyl albums have been sold (+17.1%), and even CDs are up, selling 33m (+3%). By the time the champagne corks pop and “Auld Lang Syne” plays, those numbers will be even more jaw-dropping. Happy New Year, everybody.