Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Facts and figures about the French music market

(This story was originally published in the Feb. 4 issue of German trade magazine MusikMarkt)

By Emmanuel Legrand

The leading record company is Universal, which has a market share exceeding 35%. In France, Universal has not been allowed to incorporate EMI as part of the acquisition of the UK major by the French conglomerate Vivendi in 2012. As a result, EMI's French catalogue and infrastructure was acquired by Warner Music which has almost doubled its market share overnight. Sony Music comes second in terms of market share. 

Alongside the majors, there are about 400 indie label of significance, with Wagram, Naive, Believe, Because, Atmosphériques, Tot Ou Tard, Play On, being among the most important. Top distributors are Wagram, Naive, L'Autre Distribution for physical, and Believe, IDOL and The Orchard for digital.

The dominance of local repertoire in music sales – one of the highest in Europe – was built the last two decades. “The French market is very domestic-driven, with probably one of the highest share of local repertoire,” says Former EMI France CEO Olivier Montfort. The dominant music genre is “chanson francaise,” a blend of highly melodic tracks with prominent upfront vocals, and meaningful lyrics. It is the heritage of the elders such as Charles Trenet, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré and Georges Brassens or Charles Aznavour, who at 89 shows no sign of slowing down.

One characteristic of the French market is the longevity of artists' careers. Artists who were popular in the 1960s like pop icon Johnny Hallyday, Michel Polnareff, Adamo, Sylvia Vartan and many others, are still professionally active and with significant following, although they are in their late 60s-early 70s. But for Montfort, this is also changing. He explains, “It used to be a very stable market on the long run, with very long careers, but it is less and less the case. The public is more volatile, and young talent have problems getting attention for their albums while it is getting harder for older acts.”

The chanson sector keeps on being vibrant with a new generation of singers who follow in the footsteps of the elders, with the likes of ZaZ, M, Zazie, Nolween Leroy, Christophe Maé. On a more edgy side, there are acts such as Dominique A, Miossec, Bertrand Belin, Camille, Benjamin Biolay, Woodkid or Vincent Delerm.

But there are two genres where France stands apart: hip-hop/rap and electronic and dance music. With the rise of a homegrown scene, France is believed to be the second largest market for Urban music. Acts such as MC Solaar, Supreme NTM, IAM launched the trend in the 1980s, and nowadays Maitre Gyms, Youssoupha, Sexion D'Assaut, Orelsan, La Fouine, Booba, Keny Arkana carry the torch of rap in French.

French artists nowadays are also very much active in electronic music, with what was described as “the French touch” introduced in the 1990 with the likes of Daft Punk, Air, and a few others. Today, France's electronic and dance scene is one of the most dynamic in the world, ranging from mainstream acts like David Guetta, Justice, and C2C to more specialised stylists like Gesaffelstein, Arnaud Rebotini, or Kavinsky.

France's Top 10 Best-Selling Albums in 2013
Artist Album Label Units
Racine Carrée
1 159 320
Daft Punk
Random Access Memories
509 209
Maitre Gims
Jive Epic
497 513
Les Enfoirés
La Boîte A Musique Des Enfoirés
421 200
Bruno Mars
Unorthodox Jukebox
419 459
Play On
390 005
Christophe Maé
Je Veux Du Bonheur
388 325
Génération Goldman
Génération Goldman 1
My Major Company
291 517
Florent Pagny
Vieillir Avec Toi
279 374
A L'Infini
214 661
(Source: Gfk)

Top 10 most played tracks in France in 2013
Daft Punk Get Lucky Columbia
Bruno Mars Treasure WEA
Saule feat. Charlie Winston Dusty Men PIAS
Robin Thicke Blurred Lines Polydor
Passenger Let Her Go Columbia
Macklemore Can't Hold Us WEA
Rihanna Stay Def Jam
Bruno Mars Locked Out Of Heaven WEA
The Lumineers Ho Hey Capitol
Major Lazer Watch Out For This (Bumaye) Because
(Source: Yacast)

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