Universal Music Group has claimed leadership of the top five music markets.
In 2019, UMG said it came out on top in the US, Japan, UK, Germany and France. It's the first time in a decade that the company has been No.1 in Japan. It's also the home market of Sony Corp, of course, parent of Sony Music, which is also a big player in the country.
UMG’s impact in Japan is significant, as it’s a top international market – No.2 in 2018, according to the IFPI - with a range of big-hitting domestic indie labels competing with Universal.
UMG poached a top exec from Spotify in Japan earlier this year as the company looks to capitalise on streaming growth in the country. Its success in 2019 is partly down to the fact that it's adapted quickly to streaming in Japan. Big sellers last year included King & Prince, Back Number and Queen.
Japan has been slower to adapt from physical to digital, though RIAJ figures for 2019 show streaming revenue up 33% year-on-year. CD sales (including the surprisingly resilient CD single format) were down 3% year-on-year, while the overall market was down 3.6%.
UMG, headed by CEO/chairman Sir Lucian Grainge, can also claim a share in the success of BTS in Japan. The group are distributed exclusively for all Japanese language releases by Universal Music Japan. BTS were the first international act to achieve million certification in Japan for the release of their single Lights/Boy With Luv in 2019.
As Music Week revealed yesterday, Taylor Swift topped the IFPI rankings for artist of the year in 2019.
The major had more artists in the IFPI’s top ten global artists of 2019 than any record company since the IFPI started tracking the figures in 2013. As well as coming out on top with Swift, UMG achieved a record result by securing eight of the top ten artists of the year worldwide.
The tally does not include the major’s role with BTS in Japan. The group are released internationally by BigHit and The Orchard.
Swift is signed to UMG’s Republic Records, while her UK label partner is Virgin EMI. She was joined on the list by UMG artists Post Malone, Billie Eilish, Queen, Ariana Grande, Drake, Lady Gaga and The Beatles.