Music Industry News 2017
by Alex Cosper

Tom Petty Dies After Completing 40th Anniversary Tour

Tom Petty died at the age of 66 in his Malibu, Southern California home on October 2, 2017. He had just completed his 40th anniversary tour with the Heartbreakers. He was found unconscious then taken to UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead hours later. Major media outlets were criticized by the family and fans for prematurely reporting Petty's death before it was official. Petty was determined to be in full cardiac arrest.

According to the RIAA's "Artist Tallies," the band sold over 31 million albums in the United States. The band's self-titled debut album was issued in 1976 by Shelter Records, but did not gain national attention until a few years later with their first hit "Breakdown." Petty had been friends with label-mate Dwight Twilley and later sung backup on Twilley's 1984 hit "Girls" on EMI. In 1979 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers moved to MCA Records then in the 1990s switched to Warner.

Petty's most loved song according to fan polls was "American Girl," which was featured in the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but not included on the soundtrack. The band's biggest hit on the pop charts was "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" with Stevie Nicks in 1982, which went top 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. His only two other top 10 pop singles were "Don't Do Me Like That" in 1980 and "Free Fallin'" as a solo release in 1989.

His solo and band work were much more embraced at rock radio over the years, as they went on to outsell most of their pop contemporaries, based on RIAA data. One of his most celebrated anthems was "I Won't Back Down" from his 1989 solo album Full Moon Fever. He also recorded two albums with the Traveling Wilburys in the 80s and two albums with Mudcrunch in the past decade. Aside from his 3 solo albums, he recorded 13 albums with the Heartbreakers. Petty was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Total of sales of his recordings have exceeded 80 million worldwide.

Glen Campbell Dies

Glen Campbell, who sold over 45 million records and hosted a variety TV show, died at the age of 81 on August 8 in Nashville. The singer/songwriter announced in 2011 that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. The following year he did his "Goodbye Tour" featuring three of his children in his backup band. His TV show The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour ran from 1968 to 1971 on CBS. Prior to this show he was a sought session musician by many 60s artists. He recorded with the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Righteous Brothers and many others. His biggest hits were "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights" in the seventies.

Linkin Park singer Chester Beddington Dies

Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington was found dead at age 41 in his home on July 20, 2017. The Los Angeles County Coroner reported the cause of death was suicide by hanging, although no note was found. The singer had mentioned in interviews that he struggled with drugs and alcohol. His friend Chris Cornell of Soundgarden died in a similar way a few months earlier. The band canceled their North American tour following the official announcement. Linkin Park had released its seventh studio album One More Light in May 2017.

Sgt. Pepper Returns To The Top

The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the best selling album in the United States the week ending June 2, 2017, as reported by Billboard. But it was listed at #3 due to the publication's methodology that now mixes in streaming data.

The 50th anniversary edition of the legendary album was released the previous week. It sold 71,000 units with an additional 4,000 streams in its first week returning to the charts. The top album by Bryson Tiller only sold 47,000 units, but had an additional 60,000 streams. The reissue of Sgt. Pepper reached #1 in the UK. Over the years the album, which made #1 on Billboard in 1967, has sold over 32 million units worldwide and is the band's best selling album.

Gregg Allman Dies at Age 69

Founding Allman Brothers Band member Gregg Allman died at the age of 69 at his home in Savannah, Georgia on Saturday, May 27, 2017, as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The cause of death was complications from liver cancer. Born in Nashville, the singer and the band were originally called the Escorts, then the Allman Joys. They moved to Los Angeles in 1967, recording as the Hour Glass for Liberty Records. In 1969 they became the Allman Brothers Band and were signed to Capricorn Records, as they relocated to Macon, Georgia.

Gregg released his first solo album on Capricorn called Laid Back in 1973, featuring the hit "Midnight Rider." He released five more solo studio albums including the widely acclaimed I'm No Angel in 1987. He also recorded a few live albums and another studio album due in 2017 called Southern Blood. He was married to singer Cher from 1975 through 1979.

Former President Jimmy Carter, whom the band supported and played for at rallies during the 1976 election, presented the singer with an honorary doctorate from Mercer University in Macon in 2016. Gregg performed his final concert in October 2016 and was buried in Macon beside his brother Duane, who died in a motorcycle accident at age 24 in 1971.

Chris Cornell Dies at Age 52 After Soundgarden Show

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell was found dead in his hotel bathroom following a Soundgarden show in Detroit on May 18, 2017. His bodyguard discovered the 52-year-old singer lying on the floor with an exercise band around his neck. Even though authorities determined Cornell had committed suicide by hanging, his wife Vicky said that Chris had told her on the phone after the show he may have taken an extra Ativan or two.

One of the side effects of the prescription drug Ativan when misused is blackouts, according to a subsequent Rolling Stone article that interviewed medical experts. Vicky issued a statement that until a toxicology report is released, Chris' death should not be viewed as intentional. Several news sources reported on June 2 that the opinion of the medical examiner after issuing the toxicology report was still suicide by hanging, not drugs. However, the following drugs were found in the singer's system besides Ativan: brutalbital, narcan, pseudoephedrine, norpseudoephedrine, caffeine and naloxone.

Cornell recorded six albums with Soundgarden, three albums with Audioslave and four solo studio albums. Eddie Vedder of Pearl, who sang "Hunger Strike" with Chris for Temple of the Dog, said "Chris wasn't just a friend, he was someone I looked up to like my older brother."

Copyright Accountability Act Debated in Congress

The Copyright Accountability Act (HR 1695) was approved by the House of Representatives on April 26, 2017 by a vote of 378 to 48. Part of this bipartisan bill proposes to allow the President of the United States to appoint the Register of Copyrights, serving as head of the U.S. Copyright Office, with Senate confirmation. The legislation includes:

Fair Play Fair Pay Act: compensation for artists (not just songwriters) from the radio industry
Songwriters Equity Act: updates digital licensing to support songwriters, composers and publishers
Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act: gives producers the right to earn direct royalties through SoundExchange

The bill is sponsored by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The trade group that represents the radio industry, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), opposes the legislation, while the trade group that represents the music industry, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), supports the bill.

Music Industry Reports Revenue Uptick

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued a report on April 6, 2017 on the estimated value of shipments in the U.S. for the first half of 2016. The results were an 11.4% increase in revenue from the first half of 2015. RIAA Chairman/CEO Cary Sherman still characterized the industry's slow recovery as "fragile and fraught with risk." Estimated retail revenue for the period increased to $7.7 billion for the year. The doubling of music streaming subscriptions to 22.6 million accounted for the industry's biggest annual increase since 1998.

Spotify Hits 50 Million Subscribers

Spotify announced in March 2017 that they surpassed 50 million subscribers, increasing their lead as the world's top paid online music streaming service. Apple Music came in a distant second place with 20 million customers. Other trailing rivals include SoundCloud and Google. Last year the company announced it had 30 million subscribers. By September Spotify subscribers increased to 40 million. In 2016 streaming revenue reached $5.4 billion of the $16.1 billion earned in global music sales.

Chuck Berry Dies, New Album This Year

Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry died at the age of 90 on March 17, 2017. He had continued touring up until a few years before his death, although he continued to play live in his hometown St. Louis. Berry first started having hits with "Maybellene" in 1955 after getting signed by Chess Records earlier that year. He went on to have a string of big rock and roll hits such as "Roll Over Beethoven," "Rock and Roll Music" and "Johnny B. Goode." He is often cited as the architect of rock and roll, although he called himself the "father of rock and roll" in an interview.

A new album titled Chuck will be released later in 2017. Berry announced on his 90th birthday on October 18, 2016 he had put together new material for a new album the following year. His recordings of albums and songs have spanned every decade since he came on the scene. Here's a Chuck Berry tribute on cultural intelligence site Illoogle.

2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

Joan Baez, ELO, Journey, Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Yes, Nile Rodgers
Awarded April 7, 2017

Interview with R&R Founder Bob Wilson

The man who built Radio & Records (R&R) and made it the most read publication in the radio and record industries, Bob Wilson, reflects on his career. He talks about how he came up with the concept, along with other career highlights, such as partnering with Wolfman Jack in the creation of the TV show Midnight Special. The trade publication lasted over 40 years before the business sold to Billboard's former parent company VNU, which discontinued the publication.

See also:

Music Industry News 2013
Music Industry News 2014
Music Industry News 2015
Music Industry News 2016

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