Nearly 1 in every 4 songs you heard on the radio this year came from just a single record label. Republic Records, the home of the Weeknd, Florence + the Machine and Zac Brown Band, among many, many others, released 22.3 percent of the songs that landed on the radio charts published by Mediabase, a company that monitors radio airplay for the music industry.
It was the highest share ever recorded by one label, topping a previous high of 19 percent set in 2011, and its success was fueled by several incredibly popular songs, including Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” the Taylor Swift hits “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood” and the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face.”
Those hits started rolling in back in November 2014 with Swift’s “Blank Space,” and they simply never let up. For more than half of 2015 -- 28 out of its 52 weeks -- a Republic artist’s song was at the top of Mediabase’s Top 40 radio chart, meaning it was being played more than any other song. Republic songs played on American radio stations more than 9.3 million times in 2015, the largest total in history.
The label arrived at these milestones through some creative accounting. Republic, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Music Group, counted a number of releases that it helped promote as a result of a number of partnerships with other labels forged over its 20-year history. These include Big Machine, which handles Taylor Swift, and Young Money/Cash Money, which handles Drake as well as Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande.
The distinction is just one in a large handful for Republic, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. In addition to 40 Grammy nominations, it was named label of the year by Billboard. The label’s come a long way two decades after signing novelty acts like Bloodhound Gang and Chumbawumba.