The 2010s were perhaps the most tumultuous decade the music business has ever known.
At the start of the decade, Spotify was but a fledgling start-up and the business was in the grips of a decline that would not be reversed until 2015.
Yet it ended the period in rude health, streaming having transformed the recorded music landscape and pushed legal music consumption back up to Noughties levels.
The full, comprehensive analysis of the decade’s biggest-sellers and market shares, based on Official Charts Company data, is exclusively available in the new issue of Music Week, available now. But, when it comes to counting the most successful record company of the 2010s, we can reveal that it’s Sony’s RCA label that comes out on top.
It topped four of Music Week’s key seven metrics: All Albums AES (8.7%), Artist Albums AES (9.5%), Track Sales (12.9%) and All Album Sales (7.2%). It was also the only record company to top 100 million AES album units for the decade.
No wonder president David Dollimore – who took over from Colin Barlow in 2016 – told Music Week he was “absolutely delighted”. He sat down with Music Week to talk through a decade of excellence…
How did it feel to find out RCA had come out on top?
“It was certainly a nice surprise to see that we’d achieved this. It’s quite amazing to see the numbers in front of me. I can’t take credit for previous presidents and team members but it’s fantastic.”
What do you put the success down to?
“I put it down to a number of factors: the team here internally have a great reputation across the different areas of promo, marketing etc and, over the last decade, they’ve obviously delivered time and time again with the incredible international roster that we have in the Sony family globally.”
You didn’t actually have a runaway album hit over the decade, so the performance must have been very consistent…
“Before I started, RCA UK was obviously very heavily leaning towards international and we’ve had some amazing successes with Pink and now things like Travis Scott. It’s a privilege and we love working with our international partners and artists. And then we’re highlighting great domestic things; Bring Me The Horizon having their first No.1 album and getting to the heights that we’ve achieved with that act on their sixth album, nominated for a BRIT and a Grammy, I’m delighted by all of that.”
It felt like RCA was one of the first labels to really ‘get’ streaming: did that help?
“Yeah. You’ve got to move with the market. The team here work very closely on our relationships with the DSPs and work out long-term plans for each artist. And we do our best when we know that a big international act has a project coming imminently or an artist is in the market. We try and get these artists in front of the relevant people that work at DSPs because we work for the artists, it’s very important for people to hear it from the artist directly. With how things have changed over the last decade, you’ve got to try your best to be ahead of it and work out where the audience sits, where the audience is going, how to market, where to spend your money, all of those things.”
The last decade completely reshaped the industry. Can that happen again in the ‘20s?
“I don’t think anyone can predict the future, it’s very hard to tell! Who knows what TikTok is going to do and what’s going to happen there? For the time being, everything feels stable. I’m looking at our release schedule for this year and I feel very excited across domestic and international. We can’t do any of this and we couldn’t have done this without the artists that we work with, all the partners in the States and the ones who’ve come through domestically. I’m thankful to all the acts that have helped us achieve this incredible award. We love working with some of the best acts in the world and RCA UK is a very exciting place to work. The roster domestically is building and we have a lot of great acts dropping this year. It feels like a really strong year ahead.”
* To read Music Week’s full, exclusive 2010s analysis, see the current issue of Music Week, available now, or click here. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.