EMI and RCA in close Q1 contest... and The Weeknd's 2021 collection shows the power of catalogue

EMI and RCA in close Q1 contest... and The Weeknd's 2021 collection shows the power of catalogue

Once again, EMI Records and RCA are battling for supremacy in the label market shares.

Music Week has exclusive market data on the record company market shares, as well as the sales charts for the Q1 period.

Significantly, a catalogue title has emerged triumphant as the biggest album in Q1. Released in February 2021, The Highlights (Island/Republic/XO) by The Weeknd is the biggest album of the quarter and the only release to hit six figures in 2023 (109,879 sales).

The Weeknd’s collection now has total sales to date of 549,593. Although it has yet to reach No.1 on the weekly chart, The Highlights returned to its No.2 peak this year. 

It follows the viral success of 2016 track Die For You, which is at No.18 in the Q1 singles rankings with consumption of 242,390 (total sales to date 775,027). The success of Die For You has boosted parent album Starboy, which is at No.25 for Q1 with sales of 39,099 over the three months.

The Highlights is one of six catalogue album releases in the Top 10 sellers for Q1. In the singles rankings, Miguel’s 2010 Sure Thing (RCA) has been powered to a No.6 finish (353,238) thanks to viral success on TikTok.

According to figures from the Official Charts Company, it couldn’t be closer in terms of the market shares for labels in Q1. EMI is in the lead on a 10.5% share of the crucial All Music All Albums metric, followed by RCA on 10.4%.

EMI reclaimed the title of No.1 label for 2022 based on market shares data.

So far in 2023, the label’s had three No.1 albums, including Taylor Swift’s Midnights, Sam Smith’s Gloria and Shania Twain’s Queen Of Me. Midnights finished the quarter in second place overall (96,134 sales in Q1 - 513,099 total sales so far), while Gloria was No.34 (31,340). Unholy by Sam Smith & Kim Petras, a 2022 chart-topper, was the ninth biggest single (314,517 in Q1 - 942,716 to date) in the first three months of 2023. Swift’s Anti-Hero ended the quarter at No.5 (398,495 in Q1 - 875,357 to date).

The Universal Music UK label - headed by co-presidents Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington - also secured a No.1 single in Q1 with Lewis Capaldi’s Pointless. The single finished the quarter at No.17 (245,389), while predecessor Forget Me - also a No.1 single - was No.20 overall in Q1 (235,076). 

EMI will be expecting a strong performance for Pointless’ parent album, Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent, released in Q2 (May 19). Some versions of the vinyl pre-orders are already sold out.

Now headed up by co-presidents Stacey Tang and Glyn Aikins, RCA remains the No.1 streaming label with an 11% share based on the Track Streams metric, ahead of EMI on 10.5%. RCA’s result is up on their 10.7% share in Q1, with streaming volume increasing 11% year-on-year to 4.02 billion. That’s ahead of growth in the overall streaming market of 9% in Q1.

RCA had a strong quarter with streaming success for SZA, whose digital-only album SOS finished third overall in Q1 (87,571). SZA’s smash Kill Bill was third on the singles rankings in Q1 (492,736).

The Sony Music label had a long-running hit with Flowers by Miley Cyrus, which convincingly topped the Q1 singles chart (804,212 sales), ahead of Escapism (Human Re Sources/The Orchard) by Raye feat. 070 Shake (580,771).

RCA also had a big No.1 album from Pink. The Music Week cover star was in fourth place for Q1 albums with Trustfall (77,672 sales).

Polydor is in third with a 9% share of All Music All Albums and a 9.3% share of Track Streams, following success in Q1 with acts including Inhaler, Courteeners and Lana Del Rey, who has the fastest-selling album of 2023 so far. Impressively, Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd registered Del Rey’s biggest opening sale – 41,953 – since Ultraviolence reached the summit in 2014. That single week’s sale for Did You Know… is enough to secure a No.18 finish in Q1.

Polydor is on track to secure another No.1 album this week with Boygenius.

Elsewhere, Island was at No.4 overall based on the All Music All Albums metric, followed by Columbia, Atlantic and Warner Records.

Island had No.1 LPs in the quarter by U2 and The Lathums, as well as the quarter’s biggest album by The Weeknd. The Universal label also steered Metro Boomin to a Top 20 finish overall with Heroes & Villains (No.19, 41,918 sales).

Warner Records had the fourth biggest single of Q1 with Boy’s A Liar by PinkPantheress (412,070). 

Columbia secured a Top 10 Q1 finish for breakthrough acts Venbee & Goddard, whose Messy In Heaven was No.8 overall (328,143). The Sony Music label’s biggest album was Harry Styles’ Harry’s House (No.5, 74,419 sales in Q1 - 534,851 sales to date).

Atlantic had a No.1 album with Paramore’s This Is Why (No.36 in Q1 with 31,051 sales), as well as singles chart success for Oliver Tree & Robin Schulz with Miss You (No.15 in Q1 - 255,520 sales) and 10:35 by Tiesto & Tate McRae (No.16 - 246,832).

Subscribers can read our interview with RCA’s team on the UK chart breakthrough for SZA.


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