2023 market analysis: EMI on top as it becomes UK's No.1 streaming label

2023 market analysis: EMI on top as it becomes UK's No.1 streaming label

EMI has stormed to a market share triumph for 2023.

The Universal Music UK label has also claimed the title of No.1 streaming label for the past 12 months. 

The UK label market share results are exclusively revealed by Music Week, based on Official Charts Company data. It follows the market figures for 2023 issued by the BPI, which shows a ninth consecutive year of growth with a 10% increase in recorded music consumption across all formats.

EMI were victorious at the Music Week Awards 2023 in the Record Company category. Co-presidents Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington celebrated their achievements in our world exclusive Music Week Interview in the latest issue of the magazine.

With the final numbers now in, EMI emerged on top in the market shares based on the All Music – All Albums metric (which measures all sales and streaming consumption on a comparable album units basis), with an 11.2% share – 1.2 percentage points ahead of nearest rival RCA. EMI increased its share from 10.5% last year (when the label was also No.1) as overall consumption across all formats grew by 16% compared to 9% market growth. 

Reacting to the market share result for 2023, Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington told Music Week: “2023 was an exhilarating year for EMI. A non-stop, action-packed year, full of brilliant music, and achievements. A huge shout out to our incredible artists and their management teams – and our very own, exceptional EMI label team. Roll on 2024!"

During Q4, EMI was ahead with an 11.9% market share of All Music – All Albums. RCA also performed strongly in the final quarter with a 10% share, up from 9.4% last year thanks to year-on-year growth of 16% (ahead of market growth of 10% in the quarter). At No.3, Polydor's consumption in Q4 was up 23% year-on-year as it added almost a percentage point to it's market share (9.1%).

Universal Music UK (35.9% market share) was the only major to outperform the market in 2023 based on the All Music – All Albums metric, increasing consumption by 11% (9% market growth). XL Beggars had the largest consumption increase among the bigger music groups with 22% year-on-year (No.5 corporate group, 1.3% market share), while AWAL (listed separately to parent company Sony Music) was up 15% (No.6, 0.9% market share).

Believe’s consumption soared by a staggering 394% (albeit from a lower base), to secure market share of 0.3% and become the 10th biggest corporate group.

The No.1 result for Track Streams saw EMI edge ahead of RCA – 11.0% to 10.8%. In total, EMI amassed 16.8 billion streams in 2023. RCA was the No.1 label for Track Streams in 2022.

EMI again outperformed the market growth, with the label growing its streaming consumption by 16% year-on-year (versus 11% for the whole market).

In terms of Track Streams, RCA (No.2, 10.8% share) and Polydor (No.3, 9.4% share) successfully matched the overall market rate of growth (11%) last year, while Island (No.4, 8% share) and Columbia (No.5, 6.4% share) both outperformed the market (14% and 13% year-on-year growth respectively).

Island had the year’s biggest album with The Weeknd’s The Highlights (Island/Republic/XO) on 391,269 sales.

After EMI pulled ahead on streams at the end of Q3, Rebecca Allen told Music Week in the latest print edition that it was an important result for the label.

“Can I just say, the one that we’re most proud of, because we haven’t always been the leader on it, is the Tracks Streams one,” she said. “We feel so proud of that.”

EMI had the biggest 2023 album release by a UK artist with Lewis Capaldi’s Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent (210,169 sales – Official Charts Company). Capaldi also had four singles in the year-end Top 50.

1989 (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift – a longtime EMI artist – was the biggest 2023 album release and No.3 overall in the year-end rankings (299,479 sales). 

The label also had the No.2 album in the year-end chart (Midnights by Taylor Swift – 339,923 sales). EMI’s biggest single of the year was Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift (No.4 overall, 1,124,159 sales).

Chart results in 2023: EMI soar, Sony secure massive singles result & Warner Music score biggest compilation album with Barbie 

EMI came out on top in the albums chart in 2023 with 14 weeks at No.1. The label could start 2024 with a No.1 if 1989 (Taylor’s Version) returns to the summit – it’s currently competing with The Weeknd’s The Highlights, ABBA’s Gold, Elton John’s Diamonds and Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts in a quiet chart week.

Universal Music UK labels held sway on the albums chart for half the year – 26 weeks in total (not including distribution on Peter Gabriel’s No.1 album I/O and Lottery Winners’ Anxiety Replacement Therapy). Polydor successes included albums by Olivia Rodrigo, Cian Ducrot, Boygenius, Courteeners, Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding and the Rolling Stones, who returned to the summit in Christmas week.

Guts by Olivia Rodrigo was the third biggest album released in 2023. It finished at No.15 overall (208,610 sales), just ahead of Rodrigo’s debut album, Sour, at No.16 (206,307).

During the Q4 period, Universal Music had nine of the Top 10 albums, led by Taylor Swift’s 1989 (Taylor’s Version), the Rolling Stones’ Hackney Diamonds, Take That’s This Life, Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts and Drake’s For All The Dogs. Michael Buble’s Christmas (Reprise/Warner Records) was No.1 in the final chart week of 2007 and made No.7 in Q4 – the only non-Universal release in the quarterly rankings.

2023 was an exhilarating year for EMI… full of brilliant music and achievements

Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington

On the singles chart, Sony Music claimed a wildly impressive 27 weeks at No.1 during 2023. It would be 28 if including Escapism – No.3 overall in 2023 with 1,152,207 sales last year – by Raye, who’s signed to Human Re Sources and distributed by The Orchard.

For the year-end rankings, Sony Music dominated the singles chart with six out of the Top 10 (including Raye's Escapism). In addition to 2023 leader Miley Cyrus and Raye, the major had Miracle by Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding (Columbia) at No.5 overall in 2023 (1,116,008 sales), SZA's Kill Bill (RCA/Top Dawg) at No.7 (1,069,727 sales), As It Was (Columbia) by Harry Styles at No.9 (952,709) and People (5k) by Libianca at No.10  (910,714 sales)

Miley Cyrus’s track Flowers (RCA) spent 10 weeks at No.1 in 2023, becoming the first ever recording by a female soloist to spend its first 10 weeks on the chart at No.1. Flowers is also the longest-running No.1 single by a female solo artist so far this decade. The single amassed 1,651,880 chart sales to become the biggest track of the year by some distance (Sprinter by Dave & Central Cee was on 1,219,313 – they were the only two double-platinum singles of 2023).

In the first half of the year, Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding spent eight weeks at No.1 with Miracle. For Columbia-signed Calvin Harris, this is tied first place with One Kiss as his longest chart run at No.1.  

Doja Cat achieved her first UK No.1 single with Paint the Town Red (Ministry Of Sound), which spent five weeks in the top spot from early autumn (No.26 overall, 645,638 sales). Finishing the year, Wham! claimed the Christmas week No.1 for the first time, 39 years after its original release. The festive classic, which has been at the summit for the last four weeks, was also No.1 for Q4 (No.18 overall in 2023 – 705,398 sales last year). Sony also had the No.2 song of Q4 with Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You (596,434 sales in the quarter).

RCA was No.1 in the 2023 market shares for Track Sales, while Sony Music CG came out on top for the compilation albums market.

Warner Music had the biggest-selling compilation album of the year with Barbie: The Album (Atlantic), which registered 177,655 sales. It also produced multiple hit singles, including Dance The Night (Warner Records) by Dua Lipa (No.19 overall, 704,859 sales) and What Was I Made For (Polydor) by Billie Eilish (No.45 overall, 538,433 sales).

Catalogue consumption in 2023 

Catalogue was strengthened in the 2023 year-end charts, with artist collections not only claiming multiple entries but also advancing compared to the prior year. 

Of the catalogue labels, Warner Music's Rhino had the best performance on Track Streams with 11% year-on-year growth (in line with overall market growth). Fairytale Of New York by the Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl was No.5 overall in Q4 (430,360 sales in the quarter). 

The Weeknd’s collection The Highlights was the biggest album of the year, with Elton John’s Diamonds (EMI/UMR) at No.4, Fleetwood Mac’s 50 Years – Don’t Stop (Rhino) at No.6, Eminem’s Curtain Call – The Hits (Polydor) at No.7, Arctic Monkeys’ AM (Domino) at No.9 and ABBA’s Gold (Polydor) at No.10. 1989 (Taylor’s Version) was the only 2023 release in the year-end Top 10, and even that was a catalogue-based record of reworkings. 

The only other newer titles in the Top 10 were 2022 releases by Swift, Harry Styles and SZA (admittedly, SZA’s SOS did come out in late 2022 – a successful RCA campaign maintained a strong chart presence for the album and singles throughout 2023).

No album released in 2023 achieved platinum status (Swift was just 521 sales short of 300,000 units last year with her reworking of 1989).

Lewis Capaldi’s Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent finished at No.14 in the year-end chart (210,169 sales). Capaldi’s album – the second biggest 2023 release of the year after Swift – would have been higher but for the entrenchment of catalogue. The Scottish singer-songwriter was actually competing with his own catalogue, as 2019 debut Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent finished at No.17 (204,506 sales in 2023).

Catalogue also made an impact in the singles chart thanks to TikTok trends, including Top 20 year-end appearances for Cruel Summer by Taylor Swift, Miguel, The Weeknd and Wham. Tom Odell’s Another Love (released in 2012) and The Killers’ Mr Brightside (2003) were just outside the overall Top 20 for 2023.

Breakthrough stars in 2023 

Catalogue consumption, and the success of international stars with huge hits, made it harder for new talent to cut through in 2023.

Although it appeared that no UK act would secure a 2023 debut album in the year’s Top 100, ultimately dance star Joel Corry did achieve that benchmark result with Another Friday Night (Atlantic), which was No.98 overall (80,518 sales).

In the Top 200, there were UK debuts including Clavish’s Rap Game Awful (Polydor) at No.127 (70,430) – a strong result for a debut mixtape. 

Raye had a huge hit with Escapism and her long-awaited debut album, My 21st Century Blues, peaked at No.2 in the weekly chart. It finished the year inside the Top 200 with 57,091 sales.

Irish DJ and vocalist Jazzy had the biggest new debut single of 2023 with Giving Me (No.28 overall, 629,865 sales), the first release on Polydor’s electronic music imprint Chaos. 

There were also breakthroughs for Venbee with 2022’s Goddard collaboration Messy In Heaven (Columbia), which ended 2023 at No.15 overall (764,280 sales). 

Although she’s made a chart impact before, PinkPantheress was a homegrown success story in 2023 with Boy’s A Liar (Warner Records) at No.8 overall on 963,101 sales. 

DJ Cassö achieved a breakthrough – with help from Raye and D-Block Europe – on the single Prada (Ministry Of Sound), which was No.33 overall last year (603,186).

5K/Sony had a successful launch campaign with People by Cameroon-US singer Libianca, which was No.10 in 2023.

South Korean DJ Peggy Gou is not a new artist, though she achieved a chart breakthrough this year with It Goes Like (NaNaNa) (XL Recordings), which finished the year at No.42 (543,335 sales).

There were also Top 100 singles breakthroughs by FFRR/Warner Music artist Kenya Grace, DJ Hannah Laing (WUGD/Polydor) and Strandz (Relentless).

EMI also made a global impact with Mae Stephens, whose TikTok hit If We Ever Broke Up had UK sales of 393,037 last year.

Click here to read our world exclusive digital cover feature with EMI co-presidents Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington.


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