Here’s an article that suggest that management has something to do with it — a look at the fortunes of Capitol Records: Hands-On Leader Fuels Rare Revival in Record Industry
Andrew Slater is not your typical music industry executive.
A former manager and producer of artists like the Beastie Boys, Don Henley and Macy Gray, Mr. Slater now runs Capitol Records, one of the few labels in this unsteady era of file sharing that is not only stable but also has the rare distinction of substantial growth.
Since taking over nearly three years ago Mr. Slater and his very hands-on approach to music making — from rerecording parts of songs to dissecting new videos — have transformed Capitol from a languishing heritage label best known for the Beatles and Frank Sinatra into a company that can once again develop hit artists. He he has nearly doubled Capitol’s market share through the middle of March compared with the same period last year, the second-best performance of any label, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks music sales in the United States. (Capitol had 3.24 percent of the market; Columbia, the leader, 6.9 percent.)
[...] Capitol’s revenue in the United States has more than doubled since Mr. Slater took over, said Jeanne Meyer, the senior vice president for corporate communication at EMI North America, Capitol’s parent company. (She would not provide specific figures, she said, because EMI does not break out its labels, which also include Virgin and Blue Note.)
Capitol’s and EMI’s recent strength has been caution, said Michael Nathanson, a media analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein who specializes in the music business. “Most of the industry has been in a boat going down a river without a paddle,” he said. “But what they’ve done in this uncertain environment, they’ve been very cautious in committing resources to things that won’t work,” not overspending for artists and keeping the number of releases under control. [emphasis added]