Why Sony really, really wants One Direction to stay together

They say Zayn Malik’s decision to quit One Direction in March broke the hearts of millions of teenage girls around the world.

It probably didn’t do the blood pressure of Sony’s top execs much good, either.

According to new information from Sony Corp seen by MBW, One Direction albums have consistently proven the biggest music money-spinner for Sony’s recorded music business in the past three years.

In Sony’s latest fiscal year, which ran to the end of March 2015, 1D’s fourth studio album, FOUR, generated more revenue globally than any other Sony release.

As you can see in the charts below, that put it ahead of AC/DC’s Rock Or Bust (No.2) and Meghan Trainor’s Title (No.3).

This is no great surprise: both 1D and AC/DC earned a place in the IFPI’s biggest-selling acts of last year, topped by Taylor Swift.

But to get an impression of Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall and (much-missed) Zayn’s ongoing importance to their record company, you have to look a little further back in time.

Because One Direction’s albums, signed to Syco in the UK and released via Columbia in the US, were also Sony’s biggest-earners in FY2014 (Midnight Memories) and FY2013 (Take Me Home).

Although the major has not provided details of its biggest-earning records in FY2012, 1D are unlikely to have nabbed the title: that was ‘the year’ of Adele’s record-breaking 21, issued by Columbia/Sony in the States.

1D’s debut album, Up All Night, was released in November 2011 in the UK and March 2012 in the US – both towards the end of Sony’s FY2012.

However, Up All Night was clearly a lasting success: a year later, in Sony’s FY2013, the LP was the company’s third highest-grossing album – ahead of 21 and Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience.

Liam Payne recently revealed that 1D’s fifth album is “coming along really well” without Malik. “It’s kind of a bit Oasis-y,” he told Capital FM.

Whether or not that comes to pass, Sony Music Entertainment – and its shareholders in Japan – will be hoping the 1D phenomenon, both inside and outside the group, shows no signs of slowing down.

Sony Music Entertainment’s biggest records – by global annual revenue

FY 2015 (year ending March 31, 2015)

  1. One Direction, FOUR (released: 17/11/2014)
  2. AC/DC, Rock Or Bust (28/11/2014)
  3. Meghan Trainor, Title (09/01/2015)
  4. Nogizaka46, Toumeinairo (07/01/2015)
  5. Michael Jackson, XSCAPE (13/05/2014)
  6. Pharrell Williams, GIRL (03/03/2014)
  7. Calvin Harris, Motion (31/10/2014)
  8. George Ezra, Wanted On Voyage (30/06/2014)
  9. John Legend, Love In The Future (03/09/2013)
  10. Barbra Streisand, Partners (16/09/2014)

FY 2014 (year ending March 31, 2014)

  1. One Direction, Midnight Memories (25/11/2013)
  2. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories (17/05/2013)
  3. Beyonce, BEYONCE (13/12/2013)
  4. Miley Cyrus, Bangerz (08/10/2013)
  5. P!nk, The Truth About Love (18/09/2012)
  6. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience (19/03/2013)
  7. Pharrell Williams, GIRL (03/03/2014)
  8. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience (Pt.2) (30/09/2013)
  9. Celine Dion, Loved Me Back To Life (05/11/2013)
  10. Maitre Gims, Subliminal (20/05/2013)

FY 2013 (year ending March 31, 2013)

  1. One Direction, Take Me Home (09/11/2012)
  2. P!nk, The Truth About Love (18/09/2012)
  3. One Direction, Up All Night (18/11/2011)
  4. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience (19/03/2013)
  5. Adele, 21 (19/01/2011)
  6. Alicia Keys, Girl On Fire (22/11/2012)
  7. Carrie Underwood, Blown Away (01/05/2012)
  8. Celine Dion, Sans Attendre (02/11/2012)
  9. Chris Brown, Fortune (29/06/2012)
  10. Usher, Looking 4 Myself (08/06/2012)

Music Business Worldwide

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