Most Selling Record Labels Of Modern Times

Although most specialized media states that the music business that we have come to know decades ago is going through a dark moment of change, some of the main players of the game are still making good profit to stay on float.

They have survived because of crucial changes in their structures and approach making their money from another source that is not selling records that nobody buys anymore but innovating through digital platforms and super deluxe vinyl editions for collectors.

Read on to identify who are the key players of the game and which are the artists they represent.

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Universal Music Group

Although its birth can be traced to the 1930s along with the prestigious movie studio; the Universal Music Group took its final shape in 1996. After they acquired EMI in 2012, they took over almost 40% of all the music sales worldwide. Soon after, in 2014 they acquired Eagle Rock Entertainment, creators of audiovisual content like the Grammy-winner “When you´re strange”. In 2017 Universal announced the rolling of three TV series: “27”, “Melody Island”, and “Mixtape”.

Current Labels

  • A&M
  • Capitol
  • Decca
  • Def Jam
  • Geffen
  • Interscope
  • Island
  • Mercury
  • Motown
  • Republic
  • Verve

Notable Artists

  • Kanye West
  • Maroon 5
  • Lady Gaga
  • Taylor Swift

Sony Music Entertainment

Sony is a corporation that involves many branches. It all started in Japan in the 1940s with the first tape recorder and the mix between “Sonus” and “Sonny”. It would take a while for Sony to take a bold step into the music label world, but when they finally did it, they bought no other than CBS, one of the most celebrated record labels of all times.

This event took place in 1987 and it was the leap of faith that took to the next big stem, the association with BMG in 2004. By 2012, Sony Music Entertainment controlled about 30% of total sales.

Current Labels

  • Columbia
  • Epic
  • RCA

Notable Artists

  • Ricky Martin
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Shakira
  • Britney Spears

Warner Music Group

Finally, to complete the group of three major labels, we have this 1958 subsidiary of the movie studio that took off thanks to Fran Sinatra in the 1960s.  By the 1990s and after merging with Time Inc.

Time Warner was the biggest media company in the world. After being sold again, Warner now controls a little over 20% of the world music sales and is gaining terrain.

Current Labels

  • Atlantic
  • Elektra
  • Maverick
  • Nonesuch
  • Reprise
  • Rhino
  • Warner Bros.

Notable Artists


The music business is not dead, but alive and kicking. In times of change, what the industry does is to adopt a trial and error scheme to see what can be the next big outlet. This is mostly what we perceive from the small and the big labels; and although from the outside it looks like they don´t know what they are doing, they are staying on float. Only time will tell the shape the music business will take in the future.

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