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While #1 and #2 are all but locked up for the year, there’s currently only .5% separating BMG and WMG for #3, meaning a tight race ahead.

MARKETSHARE RACE HITS
THE HOME STRETCH

Uni, Sony Have #1, #2 Locked Up, While BMG, WMG Race for the Bronze
At a time when that whole "peace on earth, good will toward men" thing has perhaps become more desperate plea than glad tiding, what better way to ring in the holiday selling season than to crunch some label group marketshare numbers? Good, honest corporate competition among conglomerates is the cornerstone of Strom Thurmond’s America, after all. Or a nutritious breakfast. Or something like that. Feel free to rationalize to taste.

At the close of the third quarter a week ago, industry leader Universal Music Group remained dominant, with a year-to-date non-catalog share of 28% and counting. Next up is Sony Music Entertainment, packing 17.2%, followed by the Bertelsmann Music Group with 15.7%, Warner Music Group with 15.2% and EMI with 11.2%.

Last year’s finishing order was UMG (28%), BMG (19.4%), Sony (17.1%), WMG (14.3%) and EMI (8.7%). This year, EMI, while still in last place, has already exceeded its year-end marketshare for last year by two and a half points on the strength of 1 from the Beatles, a Lenny Kravitz greatest hits package and, more recently, Now 7.

While #1 and #2 are all but locked up for the year, there’s currently only .5% separating BMG and WMG for #3, meaning a tight race ahead. BMG has maintained a respectable chart presence in recent weeks thanks to Alicia Keys, Usher, Martina McBride, NSYNC and sleeper compilation Totally Hits 4. And WMG has shown signs of life lately, finding itself with four artists in the Top 10: Enya, Linkin Park, P.O.D. and Staind.

Both label groups have strong Q4 slates. BMG’s include releases from Lit, TLC member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Too $hort, a Toni Braxton Christmas record, Eric Sermon, a Backstreet Boys greatest hits collection, Faith Evans, Britney Spears, 311, Busta Rhymes, TLC, Pink, OutKast, Mystikal and possibly Sara McLachlan and Q-Tip.

WMG, meanwhile, is coming with albums from En Vogue’s Dawn Robinson, Cher, Kid Rock, Goo Goo Dolls, Jewel, Brandy and Yolanda Adams; the Harry Potter soundtrack; greatest hits collections from Busta Rhymes (about four weeks ahead of the rapper’s new set on J Records), Madonna, Green Day and Barenaked Ladies; and possibly a new disc from Alanis Morissette.

LABEL GROUPS
(percentage through Q3)
1. UMG 28.0
2. Sony 17.2
3. BMG 15.7
4. WMG 15.2
5. EMI 11.2

TOP 10 LABELS
(percentage through Q3)
1. Columbia 8.4
2. IGA 8.4
3. IDJ 6.5
4. Epic 6.3
5. Warner Bros. 5.0
6. Jive 4.5
7. Universal 4.3
8. Virgin 4.3
9. MCA 3.4
10. Arista 3.6

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