Why do major record labels dominate UK radio quite so much?


Just three of the top 100 biggest tracks on UK radio last year came from independently-released sources, according to new MBW analysis – trailing far behind its neighbours in France and Germany.

MBW has crunched data from trusted global airplay watcher Radiomonitor based on impacts – aka the number of individual ‘listens’ a song enjoyed across all radio stations in 2015.

In Germany, there were seven independently-released tracks in the Top 100, while in France that number stood at an impressive 18 – six times as many as in the UK market.

The three independent tracks to make the UK Top 100 were led, no surprises, by Adele’s Hello on XL/Beggars at No.28.

The other two indie tracks were both from Ministry Of Sound: Sigala’s Easy Love (No.39) and KDA/Tinie Tempah/Katy B’s Turn The Music Louder (Rumble) at No.78.

However, 3Beat, which has struck a JV with Universal Music Group, did claim three tracks: Philip George’s Wish You Were Mine (No.51) and Alone No More (No.70), plus Sigma’s Nobody To Love (No.100).

Another part-indie track was Are You With Me? by Lost Frequencies (No.32), issued on Dutch independent Armada – but via UMG affiliate AATW in the UK.

Below, MBW digs further into the market shares of each Top 100 airplay chart in 2015.

The UK

The UK market’s Top 100 airplay tracks of 2015 were, according to Radiomonitor data, led by Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk on Columbia/Sony.

Sony claimed 27% of the full 100 list, pushed close by Warner, which took 26%.

Universal was the dominant party with 44% (including three tracks from 3Beat and one from AATW).

Universal took four of the Top 10 tracks, with Sony and Warner sharing three each.

You can see the Top 50 most-heard airplay tracks of 2015, courtesy of Radiomonitor, through here.



Germany’s Top 100 airplay tracks of 2015 were, according to Radiomonitor data, led by Lost Frequencies’ Are You With Me?

In Germany, unlike the UK, the track was backed by an independent (albeit a huge one) in the shape of Edel.

Yes, that’s right: an independently-released song was the biggest radio track in Germany last year.

Sony took three of the top 5 tracks: George Ezra’s Blame It On Me (No.3), OMI’s Cheerleader (No.4) and Meghan Trainor’s Lips Are Moving (No.5).

Universal was once again the dominant force in the market, however, with 42% of the total Top 100.

You can see the Top 50 most-heard airplay tracks of 2015 in Germany, courtesy of Radiomonitor, through here.



France’s Top 100 airplay tracks of 2015, according to Radiomonitor data, contained no less than 18 independently-released songs.

That’s six times as many as the UK.

The country’s most-heard songs were headed by OMI’s Cheerleader on Sony/Ultra.

Interestingly, compared to the UK and Germany, UMG struggled to dominate. The giant major had no songs in the Top 5 – with its highest entry being Hozier’s Take Me To Church at No.7.

The highest-placed independent song was Adele’s Hello on XL/Beggars at No.3.

One of the biggest songs of the year, Lean On by Major Lazer (No.2), was issued on an independent label, Mad Decent, but through a major – Warner Music Group.

UMG took the biggest share of the Top 100 songs with 30%, followed by WMG on 27% and Sony on 25%.

You can see the Top 50 most-heard airplay tracks of 2015 in Germany, courtesy of Radiomonitor, through here.

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  • BigMart

    Think back to the 60s when pirate radio broke the ‘monopoly’ of the big record companies. So it begs the questions are there not any decent artists recording on indie labels? Have the major companies swallowed up all the smaller companies? Are radio stations playing it ‘safe’ by only playing the more established artists?

  • Nat Newham

    Maybe because UK radio bosses are relying heavily on pluggers to pitch them tracks? National radio campaigns cost money, which many indie labels simply don’t have.

  • mark anthony mullings

    I think the radio stations should start playing unsigned artist there is lot of good demos out there/artist and stop wasting time playing throwback music that had its run.the music industry is fading away clubs are getting boring same music 24/7 labels need to start scout more for unsigned artist and composer who got a lot to offer.

  • mark anthony mullings

    I have got a ten track album in genres of Ellie Golding,Katie Perry,Calvin Harris,
    if you are a label looking for top song then feel free to get in-touch to arrange how to listen.via-em- macgyvermullings14@hotmail.com also feel free to check out (M4GYVER)
    WITH THE ALBUM (MISCELLANEOUS)available on iTunes and other digital services.