The three biggest record labels are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment , and Warner Music Group.
Each of these have branches that specifically operate in the UK.
Universal Music Group is a major record label, and the largest in the world.
- UMG was originally attached to Universal Pictures, but has been merged and bought several times since its creation, and since 2006 has been in the hands of French media conglomerate Vivendi
- UMG owns other, smaller labels such as PMR Records, which has been responsible for artists such as Jessie Ware and Disclosure
- Universal Music Group UK is the London-based branch of this label which is responsible for promoting to UK audiences
- Universal Music UK represents over 300 artists in the UK
- In 2012 UMG earned £418m before taxes
Beggars is a record label which houses five independent record labels, including Rough Trade and XL Recordings
- Beggars started off in 1973 as a record shop based in London called Beggars Banquet
- It became a record label in 1977 when it released a single by 'The Lurkers', who were its first client
- There are now three London offices and two in America
- XL Recordings is an independent record label estblished in 1989, based in London and New York.
- The XL (UK)-released album '21' from Adele was the most successful album globally this millennium, showing that although the music industry is dominated by major labels, independent labels have the ability to break through
- They are responsible for 20 artists from a range of genres including: Basement Jaxx, Dizzee Rascal, M.I.A., Vampire Weekend, SBTRKT, Jungle, The xx, Radiohead, and Tyler the Creator
Some artists aren't attached to record labels, for example Ed Sheeran began releasing his music without promotion from a label and managed to reach number 2 in the iTunes charts with his EP 'No. 5 Colaorations Project'. After this success he was signed to Asylum Records and Atlantic Records (two American labels both owned by Warner Music Group).