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Music Industry News 2015
by Alex Cosper

Interviews with Radio/Music Professionals

All Access President Joel Denver
Bealtes Album Cover Designer Kosh
RKO Radio Legend Dave Sholin
Slacker Executive Jack Isquith
Live365 Director Dennis Constantine
KBAY Radio Host Jona Denz-Hamilton
Radio Marketer Bonnie Stacy-Canelakes
Radio Programmer Lee Arnold
KRXQ Record Breaker Midday Host Pat Martin
Radio Programmer John Sebastian
91X/San Diego Radio PD/Host Michael Halloran
A&R/Manager/Host Bruce Ravid
Media Host/Singer/Actress Mimi Chen
San Jose Radio PD Dana Jang
A&R Consultant Marc Nathan
Indie Label Executive Marc Ratner
Music Industry President Bob Catania
Radio/Music Pro Roland West
A&R Executive Jerry Jaffe

Chart of 2015 Solo Recording Artists
2015 American Music Festivals

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Billy Davenport, Mark Naftalin, James Arnold, Sam Lay),
Green Day (Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt),
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (Gary Ryan, Irvan Arifin Harahap, Lee Crsytal, Ricky Bird),
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, Reese Wymans),
Lou Reed,
Bill Withers


Grammy Awards February 2015

Record of the Year - Sam Smith - Stay With Me
Album of the Year - Beck - Morning Phase
Song of the Year - Sam Smith - Stay With Me
Best New Artist of the Year - Sam Smith



Nielsen Study Reveals Resistance to Streaming Services

A study called the Nielsen Music 360 Report in September 2015 revealed that, despite all the media hype about online music streaming services taking over, there's still heavy resistance to streaming services such as Spotify. Nearly half of those surveyed said paid subsciptions for music streaming services, which usually run about $10 per month, were too expensive. The Nielsen study's main focus was on how music fans discovered new music, as 61% still said radio. Consumers find out about new music several ways online, such as YouTube, artists websites, audio sites and music news sites. A global music study by IFPI in 2014 found that less than 1% of the world's population paid a music streaming service.

Adele Has Fastest Selling Platinum Album in Years

Adele's album 25, released in November, stood out as the fastest selling million seller in decades. In its first week the album sold close to 3.5 million units, which hasn't been done since electronic tracking began with SoundScan in 1991. The album sold another million units the second week, putting it far ahead of any other album sales in 2015. It was also far ahead of weekly sales over runner-ups Justin Bieber and One Direction, neither of which came close to one million. To show how much impact the release had on the music industry, its first week sales accounted for 41 percent of album sales that week. Adele's third multi-platinum album follows 19 in 2008 and 21 in 2011.

B.B. King Lives To Be 89

"Blues Boy" B.B. King, known as "King of the Blues," died at the age of 89 on May 14 in Las Vegas from heart problems related to type 2 diabetes. He was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 in Berclair, Mississippi. In the late 1940s he worked as a DJ on WDIA in Memphis. After getting signed to RPM Records in 1949, he scored his first r&b chart topper with "Three O'Clock Blues" in 1952.

King went on to record 49 studio albums on various labels (Universal, Warner, EMI). He toured frequently from the fifties through his "farewell tour" in 2006. He actually kept playing live until he became ill in October 2014. He ran The B.B. King Blues Club in Memphis, Los Angeles, New York City, Connecticut, Nashville, Orlando, West Palm Beach and Las Vegas. Other career highlights included:

1968 - The song "Lucille" featured spoken word over music piece about how his guitar got its name
1969 - Opened for the Rolling Stones
1970 - Won Grammy for the track "The Thrill Is Gone"
1980 - Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame
1987 - Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
1988 - Featured in the U2 film Rattle & Hum on the song "When Love Comes To Town"
2000 - Released his most successful album with Eric Clapton, Riding With the King

Kingsmen Singer Jack Ely Dies

Jack Ely, who sang lead vocal on "Louie Louie" for the Kingsmen in 1963, died on April 28 at the age of 71. He was a co-founder of the Portland band in 1959, but did not have rights to the name. Ely actually left the band before the record became a smash hit. The song made history by getting banned from several radio stations whose management thought the lyrics used profanity. An FBI investigation concluded that the lyrics were too slurred to matter. The recording sold over 13 million copies, yet it cost less than $50 to record and was done in one take.

Kanye West Becomes Top Grammys Story

Kanye West was the talk of the 2015 Grammy Awards, partly for his gesture reminiscent of the Taylor Swift stunner he pulled years back, saying Beyonce deserved the award. But he only implied the gesture after he announced Beck won album of the year for Morning Phase. Later, West told reporters that he thought Beyonce deserved album of the year. It became a media controvery for the next week that cast West as crossing the line again. The media coverage helped Beck's album rebound in the top 30. The single "FourFiveSeconds" by Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney made the top five within a few weeks.

Apple Music Enters Crowded Streaming Field in June

Apple introduced a new music streaming service, Apple Music, on June 30, 2015. At first the tech giant had said it wouldn't pay artists the first three months of its introductory free service, but after top pop artist Taylor Swift complained in a widely publicized letter and threatened to pull her latest album from the service as she had recently done with Spotify, Apple made a reversal and said it would pay royalties after all.

After the first month, Apple announced it had 11 million trial members, in which 2 million signed up for the monthly $14.99 family plan. Despite the music industry's claims in the media that "streaming is taking over," digital downloads still accounted for two thirds of music sales at the launch, which happened four months after Google's expansion of its music service, Google Play Music. In August Billboard added Apple Music data to its chart methodology.


Comprehensive Music Industry Report Exposes Weaknesses

One of the most thorough studies to date on the financial state of the 21st century music industry was published by REDEF in June 2015, revealing many of weaknesses that must be addressed. The music industry has severely damaged itself by only focusing on online piracy as its downfall in sales, when the truth is it needs to reinvent itself in many ways, the report suggests. Titled "Ride or Die" by venture capitalist Liam Boluk, the report explored the history of the music sales since the 1970s and key turning points in its ups and downs. It covered the digital download and streaming era then forecast the music of music.

One of the most significant points of the report was it focused on how the consumption of music has increased so dramatically, it should have raised the value of music. But due to the expansion of music choices the opposite happened, as large streaming libraries such as Spotify devalued the musical units. But one must also take into account the artificial scarcity of music from last century due to carefully controlled distribution channels of tight radio playlists. Read the entire report here.


Marvin Gaye Estate Wins Settlement for "Blurred Lines"

A jury found in March that the recording "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams infringed upon the copyright of "Got To Give It Up" by Marvin Gaye. The Gaye estate, victors in the case, will renegotiate royalties. One of the issues arising from the controversial case relates to paying homage to established artists. Another effect is that songwriters and producers need to be more careful about releasing music that is similar to hit songs.

Sam Smith Settles with Tom Petty Over Plagiarism

Sam Smith, who won Grammy awards for his hit "Stay With Me," announced a settlement with Tom Petty over the melody of the song resembling "I Won't Back Down." The settlement was announced the Monday following the weekend in February when Smith won "record of the year" and "song of the year" for "Stay With Me." Petty will now get songwriting credit for "Stay With Me." The three notes lifted from the chorus of "I Won't Back Down" have actually been used many times in pop music, including the hit "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King.

Lesley Gore Dies of Cancer at Age 68

Lesley Gore, who has several pop hits in the 1960s including the number one hit "It's My Party," passed away at the age of 68 in Manhattan on Feb. 16, 2015. Cause of death was lung cancer. She achieved stardom at age 17 when "It's My Party" became here first big hit in 1963. The recording was produced by Mercuy Records A&R rep Quincy Jones, who went on to become a superstar producer. Her next three singles all made the top five, which included "Judy's Turn To Cry," "She's a Fool" and "You Don't Own Me." She continued to chart through 1967.

Broke Meghan Trainor Awaits Paycheck

Meghan Trainor, who was born in Nantucket, MA, one of the wealthiest communities in America, says she is broke after having one of the biggest pop hits of 2014, "All About That Bass." The song spent several weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 throughout 2014. She told The Daily Star in an interview in January 2015 that she had not received a cent yet from her record label, Epic. She did say that she was expecting a check from Epic in April 2015.

SXSW Artists Include Kanye West, Whiz Khalifa, Wyclef Jean and Wynona Judd

Artists playing at SXSW in March 2015 included AWOLNATION, Bodeans, Courtney Barnett, The Damned, Drivin N Cryin, E-40, Gang of Four, Iggy Azalea, Incubus, Kanye West, Rae Sremmurd, Tove Lo, Whiz Khalifa, Wyclef Jean and Wynona Judd & The Big Noise. The annual music convention held in Austin, is the city's biggest revenue generator. The showcase of over 2,000 artists attracts talent seekers from major record labels. It also draws over 50,000 music and film fans. Regional acts mentioned by Associated Press include: : Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, Stromae, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, Andra Day, The Bros. Landreth and Jack Garratt.

See also:

Music Industry News 2013
Music Industry News 2014

Learn how to create your own music job





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