Music Industry News 2018
by Alex Cosper

State of the Music World 2018 Report

Sirius Buys Pandora

Sirius XM Holdings announced on September 24, 2018 that it would acquire the top internet radio service, Pandora Media. The deal was based on a valuation of Pandora at $3.5 billion. The share purchase was at a premium of $10.14, although the stock fell below that price during the subsequent trading session. Pandora CEO Roger Lynch said that the combination of the satellite and internet radio services will create the "largest audio-entertainment company."

Radio Industry Remembers Sean Demery

Radio programmmer Sean Demery died at the age of 60 on Saturday, September 15, 2018, following a stroke earlier in the year, as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He spent over 40 years in the industry working across the country in various formats. After Power 99 in Atlanta switched to 99X, he became a fixture of the alternative format and was a major contributer to the format as Assistant Program Director under Leslie Fram. He was on to program other stations, such as Live 105 in San Francisco, KMTT in Seattle and most recently KINK in Portland. Demery also worked in Salt Lake City and Milwaukee.

Aretha Franklin Dies of Pancreatic Cancer

The "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin died on August 16, 2018 of pancreatic cancer at age 76 after a long illness. Media reports began to surface three days earlier that the singer was gravely ill and surrounded by loved ones. Stevie Wonder and Rev. Jesse Jackson were among friends who were with the legendary vocalist in her final days.

Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25, 1942. She grew up in Detroit, where she lived until her death. She toured with Martin Luther King, Jr. and sang at his funeral. Her number one hit "Respect" in 1967 became a theme for both civil rights and women. Franklin had many other big hits to follow and sold over 75 million records throughout her career. She made history with several memorable White House performances during the Obama Administration.

RIAA Reports Music Revenue Uptick Due to Streaming Growth

The music industry enjoyed double-digit growth for the second year in a row with its most significant annual growth since 1994. The 16.5 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 to $8.72 billion was driven by the growth of online streaming. Revenue from streaming services was up 43 percent to $5.66 billion and accounted for 65 percent of total music revenue in the United States. The bulk of streaming income came from paid subscriptions. Spotify's subscriber base grew 55.5 percent from 22.7 to 35.4 million.

Digital downloads fell 25 percent from $1.8 billion to $1.3 billion in revenue. Only two albums in 2017 moved over one million digital or physical units, which were Taylor Swift's Reputation (1.9 million) and Ed Sheeran's Divide (1.1 million).

2018 Grammy Awards Show Features Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton made a surprise appearance at the 2018 Grammys on January 28, 2018 to share a spoken word performance. She read a passage from author Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury," which is critical of the Trump Administration. It was a pre-recorded clip with Grammy host James Corden.

It was the 60th Grammy Awards presentation, in which Bruno Mars won both "Record Of The Year" and Album Of The Year" for "24K Magic." The pop/R&B artist also won "Song Of The Year" for "That's What I Like," which he co-wrote with a team of others. Alessia Caria won the award for "Best New Artist" while Ed Sheeran won the "Best Pop Solo Performance" award for "Shape Of You." The late Leonard Cohen won "Best Rock Performance" for "You Want It Darker."

Rapper XXXTentacion Murdered

Rapper/songwriter XXXTentacion was murdered at the age of 20 on June 18, 2018 in his car while leaving the parking lot of a Florida motorcycle dealership. Born Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy, the independent artist started appearing high on U.S. music charts in 2017 with his debut album 17, which hit #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart. His 2018 follow-up album, ? reached #1. Prior to his first album, the rapper attracted attention with his 2017 mixtape called Revenge.

His notoriety was controversial, as he awaited trial on charges of assaulting his pregnant girlfriend. He faced up to a dozen felony charged, but pleaded not guilty in December 2017. The trial date was pushed back multiple times, as the rapper donated money to domestic violence prevention programs. XXXTentacion made music headlines in May 2018 when Spotify announced they would not be featuring his music in curated playlists, although they did not ban his music from their library. Shortly afterward Spotify reversed its position and said it would not censor artists.

XXXTentacion's single "Sad!" shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 the week after his death. The song had previously made the top 10 earlier in the year. The Broward County Sheriff announced on June 21, 2018 they arrested a suspect who was also believed to be connected with a robbery at the upscale dealership in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Cranberries Singer Dolores O'Riordon Dies at Age 46

Dolores O'Riordan, who sold millions of albums as lead singer of Irish band The Cranberries, died unexpectedly at the age of 46 in London on January 15, 2018. She was in London working on a new recording. She was born September 6, 1971 in Balyybricken, County Limerick, Ireland. O'Riordan joined the band in 1990 and enjoyed hits throughout the nineties such as "Dreams," "Linger" and "Zombie" on the alternative charts. In addition to vocals, she played guitar, bass and keyboards. She released solo albums in 2007 and 2009. She divorced her husband in 2014 and is survived by three children.

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

The recording acts that were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on April 14 were: Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The ceremony was broadcast on HBO and SiriusXM.

Sgt Pepper Was #1 Selling Vinyl Album of 2017

The Beatles celebrated their 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 2017 with a repackaging edition featuring additional tracks. The physical album was a top seller the week of its release. The vinyl version of the album ended up being the year's top vinyl seller, moving 72,000 units, according to Billboard. Abbey Road was the second best-selling vinyl album of 2017, selling 66,000 units.

Other top selling vinyl albums of the year included catalog classics such as Bob Marley's Legend, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Prince's Purple Rain and Michael Jackson's Thriller. Overall vinyl sales were up 11% for the year, accounting for 14% of all physical albums sold and 8.5% of total (physical and digital) albums sold.

Rap Surpasses Rock in Streaming but Not Album Sales

A.C. Nielsen reports that in 2017 rap music overtook rock as the most listened to musical genre of all audio listening. Rap, hip hop and r&b gained an edge due to streaming stats, whereas rock as maintained its position as the top selling genre in album sales, accounting for a 35% share.

See also:

Music Industry News 2013
Music Industry News 2014
Music Industry News 2015
Music Industry News 2016
Music Industry News 2017

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