Top 20 best and Largest Record Labels in the whole World 2023

Top 20 best and Largest Record Labels in the whole World 2023
Top 20 best and Largest Record Labels in the whole World 2023

Most musicians collaborate with record labels because they know they will be able to reach a larger audience. Every day, record labels scout for musicians to record through them. Some of the most famous and well-known performers are signed to the world’s most successful record labels. Many of these labels have achieved widespread notoriety and made billions of dollars. Record labels also assist artists in selling their items through global stores and other media sources. The following record labels are the richest in the world in terms of annual income.

A record label, often known as a music company, is a firm that is in charge of coordinating productions, marketing and copyrighting music and videos, as well as scouting and training new musicians. They also play an important role in managing and promoting the artists signed to them. Making money is one of the primary functions of a record label.


If you’re an up-coming artist, you’ll need a top-notch record label or group to support you in keeping your musical vibe. Every big record company provides the artists with the best services possible since the more successful the artists, the more successful the label. No record company can succeed on its own if it doesn’t endeavor to make its own artists successful.

What is Record Labels?

A record label, often known as a record company, is the owner of a brand or trademark for music recordings and music videos. A record label is sometimes also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and copyright enforcement for sound recordings and music videos, and conducts talent scouting and development of new artists, as well as maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers.

Why do artists need a record label?

Record labels have distribution and promotion networks that can assist a musician’s music reach a wider audience. Labels can help with recording and marketing costs, as well as provide access to industry specialists such as producers and publicists. They can also assist with performance booking, licensing partnerships, and contract negotiations.

Do artists make money from record labels?

NO, artists are not paid if they are signed to a record company. The record label owes them money, which must be repaid if/when the artist is successful. Assume a record label pays a band a $250,000 advance to record an album. The label agrees to do so in exchange for 90% of the profits. Furthermore, the company will stipulate certain standards for the album’s production, such as which studios the band will use. The label may even hold the advance and make all disbursements on behalf of the band, ensuring that the monies are used exactly as planned.

Top 20 best and Largest Record Labels in the whole World

20. Payday Records

Patrick Moxey founded Payday Records, a hip-hop label located in New York, in 1992. The label originated in collaboration with FFRR/London Records and was distributed in the United Kingdom and Europe by London/PolyGram Records. Jeru the Damaja, Jay Z, Mos Def (via his original group U.T.D.), Showbiz & A.G., WC, and the Madd Circle are among the artists signed to Payday Records. Other linked productions include DJ Premiers and Guru of Gang Starr’s work.

19. Mavin Records 

Don Jazzy, a record producer and recording musician, formed the Nigerian music corporate record label Mavin Records on May 8, 2012. It is also known as the Supreme Mavin Dynasty. With the demise of Mo’ Hits Records, a record company run by the same producer and D’banj, the label was established. Recording artists on the label include Korede Bello, Dr. SID, D’Prince, Di’Ja, Johnny Drille, Ladipoe, DNA Twins, Rema, Crayon, Ayra Starr, Magixx, Boy Spyce, and Bayanni. Producers like Jazzy himself, Altims, London, Baby Fresh, and Andre Vibez are all based there. 2014 saw DJ Big N take on the role of the label’s official DJ. This label is one of the largest in Africa thus far. 

18. Arista Records 

Sony Music Entertainment, a branch of Sony Corporation of America, the North American arm of the Japanese corporation Sony, is the owner of the American record label Arista Records. The label was formerly a branch of BMG Entertainment, the German company Bertelsmann’s North American division. Arista, which Clive Davis founded in November 1974 and deactivated in 2011, was revived in 2018. It is one of Sony Music’s four flagship record labels, along with Epic Records, RCA Records, and Columbia Records.

17.  Priority Records

Priority Records is an American music label and distribution firm known for artists such as N.W.A., Ice-T, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Big L, Silkk the Shocker, and Westside Connection.  Priority Records (a subsidiary of CBS Records at the time) was founded in 1985 by three former K-tel executives: Bryan Turner, Mark Cerami, and Steve Drath. Priority Records established success as an independent label by pioneering a “street-based” underground marketing technique that avoided mainstream radio. Priority Records was reintroduced as a distributor in 2015, following the success of the 2015 American biographical film Straight Outta Compton, based on former Priority artists N.W.A. This time, the spotlight was on emerging talents such as G Perico, Snoh Aalegra, and Jonn Hart.

16. 300 Entertainment

Theory Entertainment LLC, sometimes known as 300 Entertainment, is a record company in the United States created by Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles, Todd Moscowitz, and Roger Gold. The label’s roster comprises artists from a variety of genres, including hip-hop, rock, pop, electronic, alternative, and country. 

Warner Music Group paid $400 million for 300 in 2021. 300 Entertainment amalgamated with Elektra Music Group in June 2022 to become the umbrella company 300 Elektra Entertainment (3EE), though both Elektra and 300 retained their respective identities as labels.

300 Entertainment announced the signing of artist Eric Bellinger. DJ Drama, A&R at Atlantic Records, announced in April 2014 that Atlanta rapper Young Thug has signed with 300 Entertainment. Migos, an Atlanta hip-hop group, was also signed to the label in June 2014. Lyor Cohen quietly signed Conrad Sewell in early 2014 when most of the major labels passed on him. The day after signing with 300, the Australian singer received offers from nearly every label that had passed on him, for “far over $1 million” in some cases.


With offices in New York City, London, Nashville, and Atlanta, EMPIRE Distribution, Records and Publishing Inc. (marketed as EMPIRE) is an American distribution company and record label that was established in 2010 by Ghazi Shami. Although it has recorded in many other genres, hip-hop is where it focuses most of its attention.

They’ve also worked with Fat Joe, Styles P, Cam’ron, and Busta Rhymes on releases in New York. They have signed singers such as Eric Bellinger, Jacquees, Jesse Boykins III, Jonn Hart, and Lyrica Anderson to their R&B roster. EMPIRE has also released several chart-topping reggae albums with reggae artists.

Marketing Executive, John Hill. They have distributed and/or are still distributing artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Problem, Snoop Dogg, and Crooked I in Los Angeles. 

EMPIRE has backed a number of early musicians’ initial albums and early singles, frequently signing new talent. In the Atlanta scene, they were the first label to release Trinidad James, Rich Homie Quan, Migos, Rocko, and K Camp, thanks to their SR. 

14. Roc Nation

Jay-Z created the record label Roc Nation in 2008. The company’s headquarters are in Manhattan, New York, and it also has offices in Los Angeles and London. Roc Nation signed its first artist, rapper J. Cole, in February 2009.

Roc Nation created Equity Distribution, an independent label, in 2018. Jay-mentor, Z’s Jaz-O, was the first artist to release a project on an independent label. In 2019, Equity also bought the digital and streaming rights to Jay-1996 Z’s debut Reasonable Doubt.

Kanye West, Meek Mill, Mariah Carey, Rita Ora, Shakira, T.I., Tiwa Savage, Rihanna, Ambré, J. Cole, and Bridget Kelly are the top signed artists on Roc Nation. 

13. Cash Money Records

In March 1998, Cash Money signed a three-year, $30 million distribution deal with Universal Records, under which the Williams brothers received a $2 million advance each year and a $1.5 million credit for each of the six artists they owned at the time. After recouping their losses, Universal Records would keep 15% of album sales earnings, while Cash Money kept 85%, as well as 50% of publishing royalties and ownership of all master recordings.

Cash Money Records was created in 1991 by brothers Ronald “Slim” Williams and Bryan “Birdman” Williams. Republic Records (previously known as Universal Republic) distributes a roster of predominantly hip hop acts, including Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj. The label is regarded as one of the most successful in the 2000s and 2010s.

The success of the label extended throughout the 2000s. The label sold 7 million albums between 2001 and 2003. The Big Tymers’ song “Still Fly” was nominated for two Grammy Awards. B.G. and Juvenile, on the other hand, left the label in 2002, citing financial mismanagement.

Wayne indicated in January 2015 that when he quits Cash Money, he will take Drake and Nicki Minaj with him. On June 22, TMZ revealed new information about the lawsuit. Birdman and Cash Money, according to filings filed by Lil Wayne, mismanaged Young Money, which included Drake and Minaj.

Thomas Marasciullo, who says his voice was utilized without permission, sued Cash Money Records, Birdman, Lil Wayne, and numerous music distribution channels in October 2009 for copyright infringement. In 2006, the rappers invited him to record some “Italian-styled spoken word records.” The words supposedly appeared on “Respect” and other tracks from the rappers’ collaborative album Like Father, Like Son, as well as Birdman’s 5 Stunna.

12. Def Jam Recordings

Rick Rubin co-founded Def Jam in his college dorm at New York University, Weinstein Hall, and its first release was a single by his punk-rock band Hose. According to one narrative, Russell Simmons joined Rubin immediately after they were introduced by Vincent Gallo.

Def Jam Records (commonly known simply as Def Jam) is a Universal Music Group-owned American multinational record label. It is situated in Manhattan, New York City, and specializes in hip-hop, current R&B, soul, and pop music.

Def Jam distributes Dave East’s From the Dirt Records as well as other label imprints. Among the current musicians are Justin Bieber, Toya Johnson, Nasty C, 2 Chainz, Dave East, Jeezy, Jeremih, Jhené Aiko, and Fredo Bang.

The Island Def Jam Music Group announced the establishment of Def Jam Germany, the first foreign Def Jam company, in 2000. This expanded the label’s global reach. Spezializtz and Philadelphia MC, both German rappers, have signed with Def Jam Germany. The label was founded on May 23, 2000, in Berlin. In addition to signing and marketing local musicians, Def Jam Germany promoted all Def Jam artists signed in the United States in the German area. However, the German branch was dissolved just two years later, in 2002. Many of the musicians were taken up by Universal/Urban, while others were not.

Def Jam dissolved their affiliation with Kanye West’s label, GOOD Music, in late October 2022, in response to the founder’s online and public media outbursts, including his 2024 presidential campaign, antisemitic and pro-race sentiments. Nevertheless, West had already been kicked off the label following the release of Donda on August 29, 2021, as did Pusha T following the release of It’s Nearly Dry on April 22 earlier that year, making 070 Shake’s You Can’t Kill Me the final release under the GOOD/Def Jam relationship.

11. Virgin Records 

Virgin Records America, Inc. was created in 1986 as the company’s North American operations. They are still functioning and headquartered in Hollywood, California, and have been operating under the Capitol Music Group label since 2012, which is now also owned by UMG. Virgin Records is also the name of the company’s operations in the United States.

Universal Music Group controlled the record label Virgin Records. It began in 1972 as a British independent record label by Richard Branson, Simon Draper, Nik Powell, and musician Tom Newman. With the success of platinum performers such as Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Devo, Tangerine Dream, Genesis, Phil Collins, OMD, the Human League, Culture Club, Simple Minds, Lenny Kravitz, the Sex Pistols, and Mike Oldfield, it grew to be a worldwide success over time, and by the time it was sold, it was regarded as a major label, alongside other large international independents such as A&M and Island Records.

Virgin Records was sold by Branson to Thorn EMI in June 1992 for a reported US$1 billion (approximately £560 million), with a special non-competition clause prohibiting Branson from establishing another recording company for the next five years (see the final paragraph in EU Merger Decision IV/M202 of April 27, 1992). It is now competing with Branson’s new label, V2 Records. Branson sold Virgin Records to fund Virgin Atlantic, which was under heavy anti-competitive pressure from British Airlines at the time. (In 1993 BA settled a libel action brought by Branson over BA’s “dirty tactics” campaign, granting him £500,000 and a further £110,000 to his airline).

10. Republic Records

Republic Records is an American record label owned by the Universal Music Group that was founded in 1995 and relaunched in 2012. It was founded by two brothers, Monte, and Avery Lipman, who began releasing CDs as a side project. Bloodhound Gang was the first artist signed to Republic Records, which was eager to sign bigger names.

Universal Republic Records reverted to the Republic Records moniker in October 2012. Prior to the label’s rebranding as Republic, it signed Canadian musician The Weeknd via his own label, XO. Outside of artist albums, the company has published soundtracks with Fox Broadcasting Company (Star), NBC (The Voice), and previous UMG parent Universal Pictures (Fifty Shades of Grey and Sing), among many more collaborations, films, and television programs. Republic Records had six singles in the top ten on the Mediabase Top 40 Chart in 2015, tying a record set in 2013. Post Malone, an American rapper, and singer was also signed to the company in 2015.

Republic Records was able to attract the talents of major pop acts such as Ariana Grande, Post Malone, and The Weeknd after forming a deal with the Universal Music Group.

Universal Music Group will formally launch and develop the Republic Records imprint in worldwide markets in July 2022. The label debuted in the Philippines through its local subsidiary UMG Philippines, with domestic artists such as Darren Espanto, Elha Nympha, and Zack Tabudlo among those signed to the label.

Ariana Grande, Drake, Post Malone, Taylor Swift, Stevie Wonder, The Weeknd, and James Blake are among the artists signed to Republic Records.

9. RCA Records

Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, owns RCA Records in the United States. Together with RCA’s erstwhile long-time rivals Columbia Records, Arista Records, and Epic Records, it is one of Sony Music’s four flagship labels. Pop, classical, rock, hip hop, afrobeat, electronic, R&B, blues, jazz, and country have all been released by the label.

Former Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris was appointed chairman of Sony Music Entertainment in May 2011. Morris named Peter Edge, president of A&R at RCA and J Records, chairman and CEO of RCA Music Group, with a focus on A&R. Tom Corson was named president and chief operating officer. On October 7, that year, the Jive, Arista, and J labels were all permanently merged into RCA. As a result, the RCA Music Group was abolished, and RCA was relaunched as a standalone label under Sony Music. With the closure of the three labels, the majority of the artists on the rosters of Jive, Arista, and/or J were relocated to RCA to release future content.

RCA Records was founded in 1900, making it the second-oldest record company in the world. Radio Corporation of America inspired the name RCA Records. Sony Music Entertainment has acquired RCA. RCA Records is proud to offer a wide range of music, including pop, classical, afrobeat, and blues. Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Britney Spears, and Buddy Guy are among the celebrities who have collaborated with RCA.

RCA had #1 records in 2020 with Doja Cat’s “Say So” ft. Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus’ “Plastic Hearts,” and Chris Brown & Young Thug’s “Go Crazy,” in addition to successful albums by Bryson Tiller, Alicia Keys, Fousheé’, and Pentatonix. The single “Sugar” by Brockhampton was certified platinum, while singles by Flo Milli[52] and Latto (previously known as “Mulatto”) were declared gold.

Koffee signed with RCA shortly after becoming the first woman and the youngest person to win the Grammy for Reggae Album of the Year. The label collaborated with the Human Rights Campaign in June 2020 to produce the 2020 Pride Benefit Concert, a webcast supporting LGBTQ equality. RCA musicians such as Isaac Dunbar, Cam, and Citizen Queen took the stage. On December 25, SZA released the track “Good Days.”

Top RCA recording artists Elvis Presley, ABBA, David Bowie, Dave Matthews Band, Miley Cyrus, Martin Garrix, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake, and Enrique Iglesias are all signed to record labels.

8. Columbia Records

Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the Japanese corporation of Sony’s North American business. 

Columbia was a forerunner in many music technologies, including the LP and the stereo record. They supplemented their cutting-edge electronics with an extraordinary music repertoire that included everything from big band and avant-garde jazz to punk rock and pop music.

Columbia Records is one of the music industry’s oldest record labels. The headquarters of the corporation are in New York City, USA. Columbia Records began as a label company on January 15, 1889. At the time, it was known as Connecticut’s Columbia Gramophone Corporation. Sony later purchased the company for $3.4 billion in 1989 in order to enter the Asian music market. Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, Adele, and James Taylor are among the well-known artists signed to Columbia Records.

Top Colombian Artist Record Beyoncé, AC/DC, Mariah Carey, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen, and The Clash are just a few examples.

7. Capitol Records

Capitol Records, LLC (formerly Capitol Records, Inc.) is an American record label distributed by Universal Music Group under the Capitol Music Group imprint. It was established as the first notable West Coast-based record label in the United States.

In 1955, EMI broke its 55-year joint distribution arrangement with RCA Victor by purchasing 96% of Capitol’s equity for $8.5 million. To complement its state-of-the-art Abbey Road Studios in England, EMI built a facility at Hollywood and Vine.

Capitol Records is still one of the most influential music companies in the United States today. It was the country’s first big label based on the West Coast when it was founded. Johnny Mercer, an American songwriter, was one of the label’s founders and recorded several recordings with them. He is most known for his soundtrack compositions, for which he received 19 Academy Award nominations.

Capitol’s recording facilities were built with noise and vibration reduction in mind, which were increasingly essential aims in the high-fidelity sound era. To offer total sound isolation, an inner wall floating on layers of rubber and cork was created inside the building’s 10-inch-thick (250 mm) concrete external walls, leaving a one-inch air gap.

The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Bee Gees, Megadeth, Katy Perry, Beastie Boys, Neil Diamond, Iron Maiden, Coldplay, and Migos are among Capitol Records’ top artists.

6. Interscope Records

The Universal Music Group owns Interscope Records through its Interscope Geffen A&M imprint. Interscope Records is an American record company with headquarters in Santa Monica, California. Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field established Atlantic Records in late 1990 as a $20 million joint venture with Warner Music Group and Interscope Communications.

After purchasing the exclusive rights to the Death Row Records releases in the early 1990s, Interscope Records achieved success. Interscope was unafraid to take a strong stance in the gangsta rap dispute that dominated the public discourse at the time, making it perhaps one of the first big record firms to foresee the hip-hop explosion of the ensuing decades. They thus made a lot of money.

Due of its affiliation with hardcore rappers, the company label has had its fair share of criticism and controversies. OneRepublic, Dr. Dre, Lady Gaga, Blackpink, and Eminem are just a handful of the well-known performers who have collaborated with Interscope Records.

Yet Interscope Records isn’t exactly a hip-hop label. First and foremost, Interscope’s staff appears to have a flair for promoting musicians who do well on the charts. Notable examples include the popular Billie Eilish, the phenomenal K-pop group Blackpink, and the promising Olivia Rodrigo.

On May 23, 2000, Interscope/Shady released Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP. It sold 1.76 million copies in its first week, making it the fastest-selling rap album in history. When Limp Bizkit’s 2000 album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water was released in October, it sold 1.05 million copies in its first week in the US, firmly establishing Nu Metal as a major musical subgenre. Interscope also started working with U2 after it bought the US marketing and distribution rights to the album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Since 1990, Iovine has been attempting to sign U2.

Dr. Dre, Billie Eilish, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Blackpink, U2, Kendrick Lamar, Olivia Rodrigo, and Maroon 5 are some of Interscope Records’ top artists.

5. BMG Rights Management

With the sale of Bertelsmann’s ownership in Sony BMG, BMG was established in October 2008. The financial corporation KKR owned 51% of the business from 2009 to 2013, during which time it grew to become one of the biggest music publishers in the world. One of the eight business divisions of the group, BMG is 100% owned by Bertelsmann.

BMG Rights Management is the world’s fourth-largest participant in the record industry. Unlike the majority of the labels on the list, it was never purchased by one of the big three. Bertelsmann Music Group, on the other hand, is the only owner. BMG Rights Management, a separate organization, is both a record label and a music publisher.

The new BMG was introduced by Bertelsmann in October 2008 with a modest portfolio of recorded music rights from 200 artists that it had acquired from Sony BMG. It announced that it would adopt a corporate strategy emphasizing justice, customer service, and openness.

While BMG Rights Management isn’t nearly at the same level as the big three, it does consistently generate more than $500 million in revenue each year. The corporation spent around $100 million in 2017 to acquire the BBR Music Group, which is well known for its country music repertoire. It was one of the largest transactions in European music market history.

Craig David, Cypress Hill, Dido, Fergie, and Lenny Kravitz are among the many acts who have recorded with BMG.

4. Atlantic Records

Atlantic Recording Corporation (often referred to as Atlantic Records) is a record company in the United States formed in October 1947 by Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson. Beginning with the release of its debut recordings in January 1948 and continuing for the next two decades.

Atlantic Records was already releasing a string of hits by the late 1940s, with some early performers selling over 400,000 singles. A few years later, the Ertegun brothers decided to sign Ray Charles, who was then unknown. With songs like “Mess About” and “I Got a Lady,” Charles swiftly became one of the label’s most profitable artists. He is still one of the most well-known musicians in the Atlantic Records collection.

Atlantic became known as one of the most influential American record companies, specializing in jazz, R&B, and soul by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Ruth Brown, and Otis Redding. Its position was greatly strengthened by its distribution agreement with Stax. Atlantic became a wholly owned part of Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, now the Warner Music Group, in 1967, and expanded into rock and pop music with albums by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, as well as Led Zeppelin and Yes.

Best Atlantic Records Artists Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Yes, Phil Collins, and “Weird Al” Yankovic all signed.

3. Warner Music Group

Warner Music Group was founded in 1957, the same year that Paramount Pictures (Warner Bros.’ competitor film studio) had its first number-one song. The single, issued by Paramount’s now-defunct Dot Records, was Tab Hunter’s lackluster “Young Love.” In order to replicate the success of its competitors, Warner Bros. established its music branch in 1958. It was the beginning of one of the largest music companies in history.

WMG was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange from 2005 until 2011 when it announced its privatization and sale to Access Industries. It later had its second IPO on the Nasdaq in 2020, becoming a public business once more. WMG employs about 3,500 people and operates in over 50 countries throughout the world, with a multibillion-dollar yearly revenue.

Throughout the 1990s, Time Warner was the world’s largest media company, with assets in excess of US$20 billion and annual revenues in the billions of dollars; by 1991, Warner’s music labels were generating sales worth more than US$3 billion, with operating profits of $550 million, and by 1995, its music division dominated the US music industry, with a 22% share of the domestic market.

Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dua Lipa, Muse, Michael Bublé, Ed Sheeran, Madonna, Deftones, Cher, Prince, and many more are among the top Warner Music Group artists.

2. Sony Music Entertainment

Sony Music Entertainment (SME), sometimes known as Sony Music, is an American multinational music firm owned by Sony Entertainment and managed by Sony’s American umbrella division. Sony Music Publishing (previously Sony/ATV) is the publishing sector that makes up the other half of the Sony Music Group.

You may be wondering what this has to do with music. Sony, on the other hand, owns the world’s most profitable record label (as well as a big conglomerate) with a yearly income of about $9 billion. Their amazing roster of owned/associated labels, which ranges from RCA Records to Legacy Recordings, is almost too long to traverse.

Sony Music Entertainment is the second largest of the “Big Three” record labels as of 2023, behind only Universal Music Group and being followed by Warner Music Group. Its music publishing division, Sony Music Publishing (previously Sony/ATV), is the world’s largest.

Two Sony Music UK labels won accolades at the annual Music Week Awards on April 5, 2017. Columbia Records was named “A&R of the Year,” while Syco was named “Record Company of the Year.”

Sony Music is exclusively owned by Sony Group Company. Sony has bought various record labels over the years, including RCA Records, Arista Records, Columbia Records, Columbia Nashville, and Legacy Recordings. It has offices in over 40 different countries. Bob Dylan, Pink, the Black Eyed Peas, Michael Jackson, and Pink are among the well-known musicians whose music has been distributed through Sony Music.

Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Wu-Tang Clan, Harry Styles, Mark Ronson, Celine Dion, John Legend, Judas Priest, and many more are among Sony Music Entertainment’s top artists.

1. Universal Music Group

Universal Music Publishing Group (UMG), the world’s largest and wealthiest record label, controls more than 95% of the worldwide music business and has offices in more than 60 countries. MCA and Decca Records merged to form UGM in 1992. 

In 2019, Fast Company called Universal Music Group the most inventive music company, and UMG was designated one of the Top 50 most innovative companies in the world, with Universal “redefining what a modern label should look like amid the music industry’s digital transition.”  UMG has licensing agreements with over 400 platforms around the world.

While most major music labels are headquartered in New York, Universal Music Group’s corporate headquarters are located in the quiet Dutch city of Hilversum, which has a population of fewer than 100,000 people. Despite its reputation as a Dutch-American multinational, Universal has historical roots in the United Kingdom.

The entire music industry began when the British Decca Records (yep, the one with The Rolling Stones) chose to enter the US market. Decca Records partnered with Universal Pictures and was later integrated with the media behemoth MCA Corp. The business was purchased, sold, and restructured multiple times before becoming the Universal Music Group we know today, with major buyouts coming from Japan’s Matsushita Electric and Canada’s Seagram.

On September 28, 2012, Universal Music Group completed its takeover of EMI. Steve Barnett was appointed chairman and CEO of Capitol Music Group in November 2012. He was previously the COO of Columbia Records. On December 22, 2012, Universal Music Group sold the Mute portfolio to the German-based BMG Rights Management in accordance with the European Commission’s criteria following the purchase of EMI. BMG paid €50 million ($58 million) for Sanctuary Records two months later.

How Does a Singer Get Paid?

The label’s principal responsibility after recording an album under a music contract is to commercialize the music. Typically, you provide your label the master rights to your music, and they are in charge of reproducing, distributing, and marketing these recordings. Before, this was mostly accomplished through the use of CDs and downloads. After the introduction of Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and others, this has largely transitioned to music streams. Because CD sales and downloads are so low these days, focusing on streams makes more sense for this essay. When the label sells a CD, download, or stream of the singer’s or band’s music. When the singer or band performs the song at a concert for which tickets have been purchased. When a company wishes to use the exact master recording of a song in a commercial project such as an advertisement, film, or video game. If an artist works with a record label, they must pay a portion of their earnings to others involved, such as managers, agents, promoters, public relations teams, and sound engineers.

The Beatles, Queen, Lady Gaga, Drake, Taylor Swift, BTS, Kanye West (Ye), Adele, Elton John, Coldplay, Metallica, KISS, and More Artists You Should Know From Universal Music Group


Yet, if you want to make a living as a musician or music executive, it’s critical to know who’s who in the music industry. Although it might seem hard to overthrow the “big three dominance, “there is always room for change in a sector as dynamic as the music industry.


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