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12 Music Week 30.11.12


Goliath v Goliath: Universal refuses to play second fiddle

OF ALL THE WORDS you could throw at Universal, underdog is hardly the first that springs to mind. Within the music publishing sector, however, it now oddly finds itself in that position. Just a few years ago the major instantly transformed itself

into the world’s biggest music publishing company when it bought out rival major BMG, but even that coupling has been superseded this year by the combination of erstwhile global No.1 EMI and Sony/ATV. For our quarterly market shares, which cover publishing

interests among each period’s Top 50 albums and Top 100 singles, the latter deal has made it much harder now for Universal to lead the rankings. But, if Q3’s results are anything to go by, it has every chance of doing so again. That is certainly true anyway on albums where, despite the

likes of Emeli Sandé and Pink from the EMI side and Ed Sheeran, Naughty Boy and others from Sony/ATV being brought together, Paul Connolly and his Universal team were only narrowly beaten in the period just gone. In fact, had Mumford & Sons’ Babel, which is 100% controlled by Universal, not been released quite so late as the last week of the quarter, we could now be talking about Universal and not Guy Moot’s enlarged empire heading the albums table.

“Even before it came up against this bigger rival, Universal rarely led the singles market. Now it will require something very special for it to come top again”

Pre-EMI takeover, control of the respective quarterly singles and albums market shares was generally split between EMI and Universal, reflecting Universal’s roster being more heavily focused on self- contained album artists such as Mumford, The Killers and The xx and EMI stronger with hit writers. It is little surprise then, given the three Universal acts mentioned had brand new chart-topping albums released

in Q3, the major came so close to outscoring Sony/ATV/EMI. The potential UK chart domination of a combined Sony/ATV

and EMI was one raised directly by the EC during its deliberations over the deal that brought the two companies together. The Commission’s remedy was the new combined entity being ordered to say goodbye to 12 contemporary Anglo-American writers to ensure any likely supremacy would be lessened. The exits of the likes of Eg White and two of Take That will certainly have that result, although it is hard to know what great difference losing other divestment names such as already-forgotten rock band Mona will make to its chart showing. Even before it came up against this bigger rival, Universal

rarely led the singles market anyway. Now it will require something very special for it to come top again. And it also has to face an ever-growing Kobalt, which claimed a best-yet 16.3% share of the singles chart market in this past quarter, just 2.3 percentage points behind. Kobalt is now regularly outscoring Warner/Chappell on singles

and, going by 2012 results, there is every possibility it will catch and even beat Universal at some point in the future. It shows there are a lot more power shifts going on in publishing than what is being assembled at Sony/ATV’s Golden Square base. Paul Williams, Head of Business Analysis

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CLOSE QUARTERS King-sized Sony/ATV/EMI only just pips Universal in Q3 duel


he newly-paired might of Sony/ATV and EMI could only narrowly squeeze past Universal to be crowned Q3’s top

albums publisher. In the first quarter in which the previously-

separate two companies’ scores were added together, the new combination claimed an unrivalled 29.4% share of the UK albums chart market to push Universal down into second place. However, anyone expecting this to be an

easy victory for Sony/ATV/EMI may be surprised to learn Guy Moot’s team finished just 0.4 percentage points ahead of Universal, according to Music Week calculations. The close finish suggests that, rather than this

becoming a predictable, one-horse race following the Sony/ATV-led consortium’s $2.2bn (£1.4bn) buyout of EMI Publishing, in the albums market at least there is still a real battle to play out every quarter. What should be noted, though, is the 29.4%

tally posted by the newly-merged operation was extremely low compared to what Sony/ATV and EMI pre-takeover had collectively scored. In Q2 for example, the last ever period when the two brands had separate market share listings, they jointly controlled 34.9% of the period’s Top 50 albums on which Music Week’s market shares are calculated. In Q1 their combined score was even higher – 43.7% – double what Universal managed. It was in this quarter Sony/ATV, which was then under Rak Sanghvi, led the quarterly publishing rankings for albums for the first time. EMI Publishing individually has also

previously clocked up bigger scores on numerous occasions than was managed by Sony/ATV and EMI together in Q3. This last happened back in the second quarter of 2007 when EMI controlled 30.8% of the chart albums market thanks to releases such as Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and Arctic Monkeys’ Favourite Last Nightmare. In this latest quarter Sony/ATV/

EMI’s main attraction was Emeli Sandé’s Our Version with an 86.4% control of what was the period’s second top-selling album. The share included

Sandé herself from the EMI side of the business and Naughty Boy, who co-penned nine of the regular album’s cuts, from Sony/ATV’s roster. Other highlights included Pink’s (pictured below)

The Truth About Love, which sold 114,700 copies in the quarter, according to the Official Charts Company, Ed Sheeran’s enduring + and Rita Ora’s Ora. Pink’s album was the period’s ninth top seller and came with a 58.9% Sony/ATV/EMI share, while the company claimed 70.8% of Sheeran’s debut in 12th place and 43.9% of Ora’s album in 20th. As artist album unit sales slipped year-on-year in

Q3 by 12.8%, the compilations business grew by 10.1% and this was reflected by three of the period’s top five sellers being various artist sets. Sony/ATV/ EMI had the leading share in each case, claiming an unrivalled 30.7% of top overall seller Now! 82, 27.9% of Now That’s What I Call Reggae and 33.1% of Now That’s What I Call A No.1. Up against an even bigger rival than previously,

Universal in second place enjoyed a very productive quarter with its highest score in 15 months. This included a late boost with Mumford & Sons’ Babel – 100% controlled by Paul Connolly’s company – selling 158,000 copies following its release during Q3’s final week, while September also produced chart-topping albums by the company’s signings The xx (Coexist) and The Killers (Battle Born). They followed in the Ill Manors soundtrack another chart-topping album for Plan B, 60.8% controlled by Universal and a farewell from him to the publisher having subsequently signed a deal with EMI ahead of its Sony/ATV- led takeover. In all Universal had the main

shares of eight of the quarter’s 20 top-selling albums with its successes also including titles by its acts Paloma Faith, Maroon 5, Coldplay and Adele. One consequence of the

Sony/ATV and EMI alliance is Warner/Chappell is now back again as the third top publisher in chart share terms, but it found itself in Q3 getting on for 20 percentage points behind the two top players. Its own share


Sony/ATV/EMI comprehensively trounced Universal to finish as Q3’s top singles company – as Kobalt claimed its highest score yet. In the previous seven periods

EMI individually had won six quarters and Sony/ATV the other so it was no shock that when the two majors united for the first time they romped home for a first combined victory. In the quarter just gone Guy

Moot’s operation claimed a hefty 31.7% market share of the period’s Top 100 singles, according to Music Week’s calculations, leaving Universal a distant 13.1 percentage points behind in second place with an 18.6% share. Universal rarely ever wins the

singles battle, having last done so back in the third quarter of 2010, so it would hardly have been anticipating a victory in the first period since rivals Sony/ATV and EMI merged. However, less expected was how close

Kobalt came to unseating it for second place. Formed in 2000, Kobalt in the

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