Following the recorded music label, album and singles rankings at the start of the month, Music Week can now reveal how radio airplay broke down in 2023.
Given its huge audience in the UK , radio remains crucial to labels and artists – both new and returning acts. According to RAJAR, just under 50 million people in the UK listen to radio at least once a week.
What’s also fascinating is the difference between a radio hit and a streaming smash. While they are clearly not mutually exclusive, there are songs that often work better in one medium than the other. For example, Take That’s This Life was a No.2 airplay hit on RadioMonitor’s rankings that didn’t breach the official singles chart.
The latest results coincide with a government consultation on public performance payments for non-UK artists, including US stars and their labels, that could have an impact on radio airplay in the years ahead. Depending which way things go, it could put pressure on UK talent with broadcasters opting to up their ratio of US stars on playlists.
In its latest rankings, RadioMonitor has based its market share measure on the main record company rather than individual labels/imprints, following changes to the set-up of recorded music operations across the industry. So, for example, Warner-Parlophone are now listed as a combined entity in the market shares.
Atlantic Records has retained its UK radio market shares crown for 2023. The Warner Music UK label took 17.4% of the year’s Top 100 singles based on the impact measurement (the total audience reach calculated from the radio plays amassed by the label’s tracks).
It marks another win for Damian Christian, managing director and president of promotions for Atlantic UK, who also retained the Music Week Award for Promotions Team in 2023. The label has come out on top on radio airplay for the last three years. Atlantic also finished at No.1 in the market shares for the Top 100 songs based on TV airplay in 2023.
Atlantic’s radio hits in 2023 included Ed Sheeran’s No.1 airplay smash Eyes Closed (No.4 overall for the year), Anne-Marie and Shania Twain collaboration Unhealthy (No.11 overall) and 0800 Heaven (No.19) by Nathan Dawe, Joel Corry & Ella Henderson.
Joel Corry had five entries in the Top 100 radio hits of the year. He also made an impact in the Official Charts Company year-end rankings with the biggest debut album of 2023.
The radio market shares was a more closely fought contest this time around, in part because of those changes mentioned above. Atlantic was just ahead of second place EMI (15.95%), who also claimed the overall No.1 song of the year on radio with Forget Me by Lewis Capaldi. The chart-topping single had 192,461 plays on UK radio last year resulting in a cumulative audience impact measurement of 1.67 billion (the RadioMonitor chart ranks songs based on impact). Forget Me made No.25 in the Official Charts Company’s year-end singles based on streams and sales.
EMI – who won Record Company Of The Year at the Music Week Awards – also had year-end Top 10 airplay songs with Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero (No.5), Lewis Capaldi’s Pointless (No.6) and Swift’s Cruel Summer (No.7).
Polydor finished at No.3 overall (13.92%) followed by RCA narrowly behind in fourth place (13.6%) and Columbia at No.5 (11.9%).
Sony Music UK labels performed strongly in the OCC rankings for 2023, and the major has two of the Top 3 singles in terms of airplay for the year. Miley Cyrus’ Flowers released via RCA (the year’s biggest single as measured by the OCC based on sales and streams) was No.2 based on airplay, followed by Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding collaboration Miracle (Columbia) at No.3. That single was previously a long-running UK singles chart No.1, peaking at No.2 on the weekly RadioMonitor rankings.
Sony Music’s The Orchard and Human Re Sources had the No.1 song on the TV airplay chart with Raye’s Escapism (feat. 070 Shake).
UK artists performed strongly in the airplay chart for 2023 with seven out of the Top 10 entries, including Polydor-signed Becky Hill with David Guetta on Remember (No.8) – one of her five airplay hits in the year-end chart.
Dua Lipa’s Dance The Night (Warner Records) was No.10 overall. Current hit Houdini made No.46 in 2023, while Elton John collaboration Cold Heart was still going strong on the airwaves last year (No.58 overall).
In the year-end rankings, there are several hits where the performance on radio was well ahead of the streaming consumption rankings for 2023. One such is Whistle (Polydor) by Jax Jones & Calum Scott which finished at No.9 in the airplay chart for 2023, but just missed the Top 100 singles of the year as calculated by the OCC.
Anne-Marie & Shania Twain’s Unhealthy was certainly a successful Top 20 single on the OCC charts, but it performed better on the RadioMonitor rankings (No.11 overall in 2023 compared to a Top 200 finish on the OCC singles of the year).
Some No.1 radio hits on RadioMonitor’s weekly chart didn’t make the OCC year-end Top 200, including Jonas Brothers’ Waffle House (No.15 overall on RadioMonitor 2023), Ed Sheeran’s Celestial (No.32, RadioMonitor) and Miley Cyrus’ Used To Be Young (No.37, RadioMonitor).
Perennial airplay star Pink – a Music Week cover star last year – made a big impression on radio once again in 2023. Radio hits for the year include Trustfall (No.22 overall), Never Gonna Not Dance Again (No.34 overall – also No.1 on the weekly airplay chart) and Runaway (No.83 overall). Of those airplay hits, only Trustfall (RCA) came close to the OCC’s Top 100 for the year – although the parent album of the same name did finish at No.29 overall (153,658 sales last year), making it the seventh biggest album released in 2023.
When it comes to multiple radio hits, David Guetta is an airplay phenomenon. As well as that Top 10 airplay result with Becky Hill on Remember, the French DJ has five other singles in RadioMonitor’s Top 100 for 2023.
Breaking talent from the UK may find it harder to crack the upper end of the radio rankings, but new acts who did make an impression in 2023 include Switch Disco with React (Relentless) feat. Ella Henderson (No.13 overall), debut album artist Mimi Webb with Red Flags (Robots + Humans/RCA) at No.20 and Cian Ducrot with I’ll Be Waiting (Polydor) at No.31.
Irish star Jazzy made a radio impact with debut smash Giving Me (No.41 on the year-end airplay chart versus No.28 on the OCC rundown).
Leigh-Anne, Mae Muller and Kenya Grace also secured entries in the year’s Top 100, along with Cassö's collaboration with Raye and D-Block Europe on Prada and rising dance star D.O.D., a breakout success story for electronic music label Armada’s UK office.
Catalogue is radio-friendly too, of course, although this is where streaming and airplay really does diverge with radio staples in the Top 100 by acts including Robin S, TLC, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas, Natalie Imbruglia and Ultra Nate.
On the year-end OCC singles Top 20 there was a different result with Wham!, Miguel and Tom Odell scoring catalogue hits thanks to streaming and TikTok.
Click here for our 2023 recorded music market analysis.