94% of Radio 1’s most-played songs in 2014 were major label releases

Forty-seven of the 50 most-played tracks on both BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 last year were major label releases.

Just three – or 6% – of each of the publicly-funded UK networks’ most-rotated songs in 2014 were independent, according to data from international airplay authority Radiomonitor, analysed by MBW.

That’s less than a third of the share that independent releases claimed on Radio 1’s closest publicly-funded equivalent in France and just 1/6th of the share independents took on Australian youth station Triple-J (see below for more international radio analysis).

BBC 6Music, however, was much more supportive of the indies: over half the station’s Top 50 (54%) most-spun tracks in 2014 were non-major label songs.

The percentage of independent releases on Radio 1 increased in its Top 100 most-played tracks of 2014, but not by much – up to 10%.

Radio 2’s Top 100 most-played list of 2014 brought slightly better news for the independents: 15 tracks within it were not sourced from the majors.


According to MBW analysis, the proportion of independent music in Radio 1 and Radio 2’s Top 50s is broadly in line with all radio across Europe in 2014 – but this is a figure that is heavily influenced by ‘hit-driven’ commercial stations.

According to Radiomonitor data, just three of the Top 50 most-played tracks across all EU radio last year had independent roots – but two of these songs were affiliated to majors.

Below you’ll find a handy breakdown of Radio 1’s stats as well as data relating to some broadly equivalent stations – in the UK, in Australia and in Europe’s other two biggest markets, Germany and France.


BBC Radio 1’s 100 most-played tracks of 2014 contained 14 titles affiliated to an independent label, according to Radiomonitor data.

However, four of these songs were released through a major label:

  • Nobody To Love by Sigma – Radio 1’s second most-played track of the year with 397 plays – 3Beat/Universal
  • Lower Than Atlantis’s Here We Go (No.40=; 219 plays) – Easy Life/Sony (Sony Red)
  • Changing by Sigma feat Paloma Faith (No.52; 205 plays) – 3Beat/Universal
  • Fuse ODG ft. Sean Paul’s Dangerous Love (No.98=; 171 plays) – 3Beat/Universal

All four tracks were likely to have been plugged by major labels.


That leaves just 10 tracks that were fully independent on Radio 1’s Top 100 playlist; a figure that compares unfavorably with the UK market share of independents, certainly when it comes to albums (around 25%).

The most-played fully independent tracks on BBC Radio 1 last year included Second City’s I Wanna Feel (Ministry Of Sound, No.7; 345 plays), Oliver & Jimi Jules’ Pushing On (Defected, No.40=; 219 plays) and London Grammar’s Hey Now (Metal & Dust/Ministry Of Sound, No.43; 217 plays).

The three independent tracks in Radio 2’s Top 50 were Shaun Escoffery’s Nature’s Call (Dome, No.24; 90 plays), Englebert Humperdinck’s Since I Lost My Baby (Conehead, No.33; 83 plays) and Ward Thomas’s Push For The Stride (Wtw Music, No.47; 78 plays).

The 15 independent tracks on Radio 2’s 100 most-played list also included Noel Gallagher’s In The Heat Of The Moment (Sour Mash/Ignition, No.54; 76 plays) and Lenny Kravitz’s The Chamber (Kobalt, No. 68; 71 plays).


Independents got a much better showing at Radio 1’s UK rival station XFM. Unlike sister station Capital FM – and much like Radio 1 – XFM prides itself on playing new music.

No less than 16 (32%) of its Top 50 tracks in 2014 were independent releases, while 28 of its Top 100 tracks were not sourced from major labels.

Again, major-issued tracks – in this case Augustines’ Nothing To Lose But Your Head on UMG’s Caroline (No.82 on XFM’s 100) – are discounted as ‘independent’ in MBW’s analysis.

XFM’s most-played track of the year was Bombay Bicycle Club’s Luna, on Universal’s Island (1081 plays), followed by Royal Blood’s Come On Over (Warner Bros; 1,045 plays), Vance Joy’s Riptide (Atlantic; 917 plays), The Black Keys’ Fever (Nonesuch; 875 plays) and Kings Of Leon’s Temple (Sony; 852 plays).

The most-spun independent song on XFM in 2014 was the Arctic Monkeys’ Arabella at No.11 (Domino; 676 plays).


And over on BBC 6Music, it was an indie-athon: with 27 independent tracks, more than half the station’s Top 50 (54%) was made up of non-major label songs.

Universal claimed just 18% of the 6Music Top 50 – but this included the most-played track all year, St. Vincent’s Digital Witness. Sony claimed 10% and Warner took 18%.

Looking at 2014’s Top 100 most-played at 6Music, 59 of the tracks were independent, 20 were from Universal, 13 were from Warner and just 8 were from Sony.

Radio 1’s Top 5 most played tracks of 2014 (Radiomonitor):
  1. Clean Bandit feat Jess Glynne, Rather Be (Atlantic/Warner; 400 plays)
  2. Sigma, Nobody to Love – (3Beat/Universal; 397 plays)
  3. Pharrell Williams, Happy (RCA/Sony; 395 plays)
  4. Ed Sheeran, Sing (Atlantic/Warner; 375 plays)
  5. Route 94 Ft. Jess Glynne, My Love (Virgin EMI/Universal; 357 plays)
Radio 2’s Top 5 most played tracks of 2014 (Radiomonitor):
  1. Pharrell Williams, Happy (RCA/Sony; 204 plays)
  2. Coldplay, A Sky Full Of Stars – (Parlophone/Warner; 137 plays)
  3. La Roux, Uptight Downtown (Polydor/Universal; 125 plays) =
  4. The Pierces, Believe In Me (Polydor/Universal; 125 plays)
  5. Ed Sheeran, Sing (Atlantic; 114 plays)


France plays host to a very useful station to compare to Radio 1: Le Mouv, a youth-orientated public radio network run by RadioFrance.

RadioFrance shares an audience of 13.3m people amongst its seven stations.

Independent releases took 10 spots on Le Mouv’s most-played Top 50 in 2014, according to Radiomonitor, more than three times the number of indie tracks on Radio 1 and Radio 2.

This share increased to 30% on the station’s most-played 100 songs in the year.

Independent releases were led by Christine & The Queens’ Saint Claude (Because), which was the third most-played track of the year overall on Le Mouv, with 886 plays.

Other independent airplay hits on the station included Francois & The Atlas Mountains with La Verite (No.8, Domino; 805 plays), Stolen Dance by Milky Chance (No.9, [PIAS]; 762 plays) and Can’t Do Without You by Caribou (No.19, City Slang; 592 plays).

It is worth noting that later this year, Le Mouv will be reportedly changing its name and focusing more on urban/dance music in a bid to maximise its appeal to a youth audience.

Because Le Mouv is part of Radio France, it is not bound by the French law which says all commercial radio stations must dedicate at least 40% of their playlist to French artists.

However, Le Mouv roughly attempts to give French artists 25%+ of its rotation.



Le Mouv’s Top 5 most-played tracks of 2014:
  1. Robin Schulz & Lily Wood, Prayer In C (Warner International; 929 plays)
  2. The Avener, Fade Out Lines (Capitol/Universal; 916 plays)
  3. Christine & The Queens, Saint Claude (Because; 886 plays)
  4. Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Capitol/Universal; 874 plays)
  5. George Ezra, Budapest (Columbia/Sony; 864 plays)


Australia’s nationwide public radio network is ABC – the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is similar to the BBC even in name.

Its ‘youth-orientated’ radio network is Triple-J, which like Radio 1 prides itself on playing the best of new music.

It tries to attract listeners that are slightly older than Radio 1 (15-24), with a broader age range of 18-30.

According to Radiomonitor data cross-referenced by MBW, Triple-J was a big backer of independent labels in 2014, with 19 (38%) of its Top 50 tracks coming from non-major label sources. That’s 6.3 times bigger than Radio 1’s independent share.

The most-played independent song was Future Islands’ Seasons (Waiting On You) from 4AD/Beggars, which was No.2 on Triple-J’s Top 50 overall with 187 plays.

Other independent songs that were big hitters on Triple-J in 2014 included ZHU’s Faded on Mohag Records (No.3; 176 plays), Jungle’s Busy Earnin’ (XL; 165 plays) and Cashmere Cat’s With Me (Lucky Me; 157).

UMG took a 34% share of Triple-J’s most-played tracks, with Warner claiming 20% and Sony on 8%.

Full label data for the full Top 100 most-played tracks in 2014 is a little patchier, so we’ll discount it here.

Triple-J Top 50
Triple-J’s Top 5 most-played tracks of 2014:
  1. Peking Duck ft. Nicole Miller, High (Vicious Bitch/Universal; 222 plays)
  2. Future Islands, Seasons (4AD/Beggars; 187 plays)
  3. ZHU, Faded (Moag Records; 176 plays)
  4. Bombay Bicycle Club, Luna (Island; 171 plays) =
  5. Duke Dumont ft. Jax Jones, I Got U (Virgin EMI/Universal; 171 plays) =
  6. The Preatures, Better Than It Could Ever Be (Universal; 171 plays) =


The publicly-funded national radio organisation in Europe’s biggest recorded music territory is called Deutschland Radio.

This group’s Radio Kultur station is its dedicated ‘arts and culture’ outlet; for UK readers, it’s kind of a mix of BBC Radio 1, 6Music and Radio 4.

Although it’s a talk-heavy station – with much lower music rotation than Radio 1 or Le Mouv – it still offers a useful comparison that what’s happening the UK, especially due to its nationwide and non-commercial setup.

A whopping 24 (48%) of Radio Kultur’s Top 50 most-played tracks in 2014 were independent, according to Radiomonitor data cross-referenced by MBW.

The most-played independent track of the year on the station was Shelter Song by Temples (Heavenly/[PIAS]) .

Other highly-rotated independent tracks included Joan As Policewoman’s Holy City ([PIAS]) at No.6 and Malia & Boris Blank’s I Feel It Like You at No.7.



Radio Kultur’s Top 5 most-played tracks of 2014:
  1. Lana Del Rey, West Coast (Polydor/Universal; 35 plays)
  2. Pharrell Williams, Happy (RCA/Sony; 34 plays)
  3. First Aid Kit, My Silver Lining (Columbia/Sony; 33 plays)
  4. Temples, Shelter Song ([PIAS]; 29 plays)
  5. Joan As Police Woman, Holy City ([PIAS], 28 plays)

However, a much closer comparison to Radio 1 musically in Germany is WDR station 1Live.

Its Top 50 most-played tracks of 2014 included four independent tracks (8%), according to Radiomonitor – only slightly higher than Radio 1.

And its Top 100 of the year contained just five independent songs, making it one of the lowest representations of independent airplay in the territories looked at by MBW.Music Business Worldwide

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