EMI reclaims title of UK's market-leading record label

EMI reclaims title of UK's market-leading record label

EMI is the No.1 record label in the UK once again.

The Universal Music UK label reclaimed its title in 2022 after losing out to RCA the year before. It follows a successful run for the label headed by co-presidents Becky Allen and Jo Charrington.

The race had been tightening earlier this year, but EMI pulled away in the fourth quarter.

EMI had a strong finish to the year with Taylor Swift’s Midnights becoming the Christmas No.1 album. Although it was only released in October, Midnights ended up as the third biggest album of the year with 416,965 sales. It was the biggest release of Q4, while Anti-Hero was the quarter’s fourth biggest single (476,862).

The label also secured the biggest single of Q4 with Unholy by Sam Smith and Kim Petras (571,653 sales in the quarter). The long-running No.1 finished the year at No.31 overall with 628,199 sales.

EMI’s performance last year was boosted by the incorporation of Capitol Records, which was formerly a UK frontline label and is now part of the EMI group of labels. Capitol’s roster includes Sam Smith, Zoe Wees and Aitch, whose Ashanti collaboration Baby was the 18th biggest single of 2022 (738,242 sales). 

Based on Official Charts Company data, EMI finished at No.1 on the crucial All Music All Albums metric with a 10.5% market share. The consumption figure for EMI was up 7% year-on-year to 15,306,278, ahead of the 3% market growth figure. EMI had a 10.1% share in 2021. 

EMI was also No.1 in 2022 for All Music Artist Albums, Artist Album Sales and All Album Sales. 

For Q4, the company triumphed in the Track Streams results with a share of 11.4% and almost four billion streams in the quarter, a year-on-year increase of 19% (compared to market growth of 6%).

Catalogue success for EMI included Queen’s Greatest Hits, which finished the year at No.11 overall with a further 193,111 sales to add to its huge 23-times platinum total. Elton John’s streaming perennial Diamonds was at No.7 (208,779 sales in 2022), while his Dua Lipa collaboration Cold Heart finished the year at No.13 (870,701). 

Lewis Capaldi’s Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent - the biggest album of 2019 and 2020 - still made the overall Top 20 for 2022 (No.19, 156,295). Capaldi’s comeback single Forget Me was No.40 overall last year (551,460). The singer-songwriter is building up to his second album this year, which is likely to be another strong performer for EMI.

The label’s biggest single of 2022 was, at No.8 overall, Where Are You Now by Lost Frequencies and Calum Scott. With 990,965 chart sales during the 12 months, it was actually a joint release with nearest rival RCA, as the Sony Music label group includes the Insanity label.

RCA finished in second place on the All Music All Albums metric for 2022 with a 9.7% share. But it remains on top for Track Streams, with a 10.8% share. Although the label’s streaming total of 14.8 billion was down 2% year-on-year, it was still enough to remain ahead of EMI, despite the Universal label increasing streaming volumes by 12% year-on-year (compared to 8% market growth).

RCA had Little Mix’s Between Us collection at No.9 in the year-end rankings (199,771), as well as Doja Cat’s Planet Her via Ministry Of Sound at No.24 (128,415), Elv1s - 30 Number One Hits at No.28 (122,187), and Beyonce’s Renaissance at No.35 (111,960). 

The label also had a streaming hit with Sza’s album SOS, which finished Q4 at No.28 (40,937).

RCA, alongside Since ’93, had a big breakthrough with Cat Burns, whose single Go was the fourth biggest of 2022 (1,109,277) and the biggest debut hit. 

Polydor were again in third place in the All Music All Albums rankings in 2022 (8.3% share), following a haul of six No.1 LPs during the year - the most for any individual label. Polydor had year-end Top 10 singles with Glass Animals’ Heat Waves (No.7, 1,046,715) and Sam Fender’s Seventeen Going Under (No.10, 941,591).

Island and Atlantic made up the rest of the Top 5, followed by Columbia, Warner Records, Sony Music CG, Parlophone and Universal Music Recordings. 

BMG was the biggest independent again behind the three corporate groups, Universal, Sony and Warner. 

Domino had the highest ranked independent album - Arctic Monkeys’ AM at No.13 (177,022) - as well as three other LPs in the Top 50 (Arctic Monkeys’ The Car at No.17 - 159,573 sales; Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not at No.37 - 108,616 sales; and Wet Leg’s self-titled debut at No.50 - 95,326 sales).


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