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Music Industry News 2023
by Alex Cosper

Indie Artist Oliver Anthony Debuts at Top of Billboard Hot 100

Indie recording artist Oliver Anthony reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in August for his song "Rich Men North of Richmond." He uploaded the song to the internet on August 11. Within the next week the song sold 147,000 downloads, along with 17.5 million streams. Although the song was not promoted to radio, it still racked up over 500,000 radio airplay impressions for the week, mainly from country stations.

Singer/songwriter Anthony's real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford from Farmville, Virginia. The initial exposure of the song was through TikTok and the Radiowv YouTube channel. From there it spread to other podcasts. Although the song was taken to be an anthem for conservatives, the singer spoke on Joe Rogan's podcast that the song isn't meant to take sides politically. The song touches on economic struggles experienced by the working class.

Billboard has reported the singer has made history by being the first artist to top the Hot 100 with no prior chart history. It's also rare that an artist tops the chart without the help of a record label. Anthony's music is distributed through online service DistroKid, which allows artists to keep the bulk of their profits. Anthony claims to have turned down record deals over the past month valued at millions of dollars.

All Access Radio/Music Industry Site Shuts Down

All Access announced in July 2023 it would be shutting down August 16. The online radio/music trade publication lasted over a quarter century following its launch in 1996. All Access founder Joel Denver was interviewed by Playlist Research in 2015 about his career leading up to site's launch. Over the years it was a central source for news about music and radio company advancements.

A&M Co-Founder Jerry Moss Dies

Jerry Moss, who partnered with music legend Herb Alpert to form A&M Records in 1962, died at age 88 on August 16, 2023. A&M made history as one of the most successful independent labels of all time at the time they sold the label to PolyGram in 1989. In 2020 he and his wife in support of their local art community donated $25 million to Los Angeles Music Center, which was renamed after him. The following year Epix ran a two-part documentary on his career called "Mr. A & Mr. M: The Story of A&M Records."

A&M Record rose to success with Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, one of the best-selling bands of the sixties. The band caught the attention of instrumental fans who craved melodic jazz/pop instrumentals. The label continued success with The Carpenters, who helped usher in the new modern sound of 24-track recording. In the seventies, after signing several more hit acts including Peter Frampton, A&M signed The Police, who became one of the best selling recordings acts of the eighties. Overall, the label sold over 70 million albums.

Music Publishers Up 19% to $5.6B

The National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) reported June 14, 2023 that U.S. music publishing revenue rose 19% from 4.7 billion to $5.6 billion in 2022 over the previous year. This does not include money owed to publishers due to a rate increase for streaming services from 2018 to 2022. NMPA President/CEO David Israelite has explained part of the reason for last year's revenue boost is attributed to streaming services raising subscription rates.

NMPA reports that U.S. publishers have collectively earned $2.2 billion from 2014 through 2022. Performance royalties have accounted for nearly half of these earnings. Meanwhile, NMPA members are suing Twitter for hundreds of millions of dollars for damages relating to copyright infringement of over 1,700 songs.

Recording Artists Who Have Died in 2023

Here are some of the several legendary recording artists who have passed away in 2023:

Steve Harwell (September 4 at 56) was the lead vocalist of Smash Mouth. He retired from the band in 2021 due to physical and mental health issues. After years of battling alcoholism, the singer succumbed to liver failure. The band's most memorable 90s hits included "Walkin' On The Sun" and "All Star."

Gary Wright (September 4 at 80) came to prominence in 1967 as the lead vocalist of Spooky Tooth. He then worked as a session musician for George Harrison's 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. He went on to have solo hits starting in 1976 with "Dream Weaver" then "Love Is Alive." He continued recording over the years and joined Ringo Starr's All-Star Band. "Dream Weaver" became a hit again in 1992, when it was featured in the film Wayne's World.

Jimmy Buffett (September 1 at 76) was best known for his 1977 top ten hit "Margaritaville," but he had a string of minor hits that spanned decades as well. Since the seventies, he built a huge concert following among devoted fans called "Parrotheads" for tropical-inspired country-flavored rock. He also ventured into the restaurant business, owning chains such as Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise, as well as hotels and casinos. In 2010 he sold his Palm Beach home for $18.5 million. In 2023 Forbes reported his net worth to be $1 billion, making him one of the few music professionals to reach billionaire status.

Robbie Robertson (August 9 at 80) was Bob Dylan's guitarist in the 60s through mid-70s and member of his touring group, The Band. His most well known song was "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," which became the signature hit for Joan Baez. Other songs he wrote for The Band include "The Weight" and "Up On Cripple Creek." He also enjoyed a solo career, in which notable 80s rock tracks were "Showdown At Big Sky" and "Down The Crazy River."

Randy Meisner (July 26 at 77) was a long-time bassist for The Eagles. He was a founding member when the band formed in 1971. As a songwriter, his most acclaimed contribution for the band was "Take It To The Limit," which hit top five in 1976. The band issued a statement the day after his death, revealing Meisner suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Sixties psychedelic artist David LaFlamme (August 6 at 82) was the founder and lead vocalist It's a Beautiful Day. Their most prominent song was "White Bird," a top 25 hit in 1969, released on Columbia Records. Throughout the sixties, he performed with rising San Francisco musicians such as Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin. After leaving the group in 1972, he continued to create and produce music on Amherst Records. Once he gained control of the name It's a Beautiful Day in 2000, he reformed the group with his second wife and became active again.

Irish singer Sinead O'Connor (July 26 at 56) reached the top of the charts in 1990 with the Prince song "Nothing Compares 2 U." She had built a following on modern rock stations with unique songs such as "Mandinka" and "I Want Your Hands On Me." She created controversy when she tore up a picture of the Pope on national television. The negative reaction caused the singer to retreat and even contemplate suicide. During this time, she made surprise concert appearances at Peter Gabriel shows.

Songwriter Cynthia Weil (June 1 at 82) is remembered for writing a string of hits in the 1960s with her husband Barry Mann. Their most famous songs included "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers, "On Broadway" by The Drifters, "Kicks" by Paul Revere & The Raiders and "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" by The Animals. After the sixties, the couple's songwriting periodically resurfaced on the charts, such as with the 1986 Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram hit "Somewhere Out There." They gained further attention in 2004 with the unveiling of their musical called They Wrote That?

Tina Turner (May 24 at 83) began appearing on hit songs in the 1960s and made a huge comeback in the 1980s. Born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939, she was considered by fans and the press as one of the most vibrant concert attractions in rock and roll history. Her most memorable hit was the 1984 number one smash "What's Love Got To Do With It." As the wife of early rock pioneer Ike Turner, the pair is remembered for their cover versions of "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Proud Mary." Other hits by Tina Turner included eighties classics "Better Be Good To Me," "We Don't Need Another Hero," "One of the Living" and "Show Some Respect."

Canadian singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot (May 1 at 84), known for 1970s hits "If You Could Read My Mind," "Sundown," "Carefree Highway," "Rainy Day People" and "Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald."

Canadian guitarist/vocalist Tim Bachman (April 28 at 71), a founding member of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, which had 1970s hits "Let It Ride" and "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet."

Harry Belafonte (April 25 at 96) helped popularize calypso music with his 1950s hit "Banana Boat Song" aka "Day-O." As an activist since the 1960s, he helped open minds throughout the world on social issues such as human rights. In February 1968 he made television history when he sat in for Johnny Carson on NBC's Tonight Show for a week. His musical guests included Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Johnny Nash, Petula Clark and Buffy St. Marie. Other guests included Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

April Stevens (April 17 at 93) was known for a few hits with her brother Nino Tempo in the early 1960s, such as the 1963 chart-topper "Deep Purple," a 1930s cover song that inspired the name of the band known for "Hush" and other hits.

Jazz bandleader Ahmad Jamal (April 16 at 92) played piano since age 3 and composed music throughout his career. He began recording in the 1950s. His most notable album was At The Pershing, released in 1958. One of his most widely heard recordings featured his electric piano solo on the instrumental "Suicide is Painless," the theme of the 1970 film MASH.

Jay and The Americans singer Howie Kane (April 26 at 77) sang with the band in two separate eras: 1960 to 1973, then on the oldies circuit 2006-2023. He was more of a backup vocalist to lead singer Jay Black, who died October 22, 2021 at 82. The band had several hits in the 1960s including "Come a Little Bit Closer" and "This Magic Moment."

R&B singer Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins (March 16 at 81) was a founding member of 1970s funk bands Parliament and Funkadelic, led by George Clinton. The bands, collectively known as P-Funk, worked together with rotating members. Fuzzy remained with the project until 1977, when he ventured into solo work. Parliament had several lead vocalists with Clinton as the mainstay.

Jazz singer Bobby Caldwell (March 14 at 71) was best known for the 1978 hit "What You Won't Do For Love." That marked the start of a career that spanned decades. He released solo albums in every decade since the 1970s. His music crossed multiple genres, such as R&B, soul and jazz and he appealed to a wide age group.

Napoleon XIV (May 3 at 84) was considered a one-hit-wonder with the 1966 novelty hit "They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Ha."

Guitarist Garry Rossington (March 5 at 71) was a founding and last original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, in which he played both lead and rhythm guitar. He was also a founding member of the Rossington-Collins Band.

Huey "Piano" Smith (February 13 at 89) was an early rock and roll pioneer who played piano on R&B hits. One of his most notable performances was on the 1957 hit "Rockin' Pneumonia and Boogie Woogie Flu."

Songwriter Burt Bacharach (February 8 at 94) wrote many popular songs, mainly concentrated in the 1960s through 1980s. He wrote music for lyrics written by Hal David. Some of their most widely known collaborations include "Close To You" by The Carpenters and "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" by Dionne Warwick. Both acts were propelled by Bacharach/David songs.

English rock guitarist Jeff Beck (January 10 at 78) came on the music scene in the mid-sixties as a guitarist for The Yardbirds. Some of his most memorable leads were found in "Heart Full of Soul" and "Over Under Sideways Down." As a solo artist, he released several 17 studio albums and 11 live albums showcasing his talent on lead guitar. The peak of his albums sales occurred in the mid-70s with platinum albums Blow By Blow and Wired.

Sire Records Co-Founder Seymour Stein Dies at 80

Music industry legend Seymour Stein, who co-founded Sire Records in 1966 and coined the term "new wave music," passed away at 80 on April 2, 2023. Some of the many recording artists he signed included Madonna and many modern rock acts such as Depeche Mode, Talking Heads, The Ramones, The Pretenders, The Cure, The Replacements, The Smiths and Echo & The Bunnymen. He was a major force behind the new wave era of the late seventies through mid-eighties. He also signed Ice-T, Lou Reed and various other acts. Stein remained head of Sire through 2018, when he officially retired and released his autobiography, Siren Song: My Life in Music.

2023 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees Announced

The 2023 nominees to be inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced earlier this year. The inductees will be announced in May. This year's nominees are Willie Nelson, Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Sheryl Crow, A Tribe Called Quest, Iron Maiden, Joy Division/New Order, Cyndi Lauper, Rage Against The Machine, Soundgarden, The Spinners, The White Stripes and Warren Zevon.

Vinyl Records Outsell CDs in 2022

Vinyl records overtook CDs in units sold throughout 2022, according to a year-end report released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on March 9, 2023. While digital streaming still made up the vast majority of revenue, physical sales hang on to an 11% share of the market. Among physical sales, vinyl was up 17% for the year, accounting for $1.2 billion in revenue. It marked the 16th straight year of sales growth for vinyl. For the first time since 1987, vinyl recording products outsold CDs and it was by quite a wide margin: 41 million vinyl units vs 33 million CD units.

65th Annual Grammy Awards

The 65th Annual Grammy Awards was broadcast live February 5, 2023 on CBS from Arena in Los Angeles. The show attracted an average of 12.5 million TV viewers, according to initial Nielsen data. It marked a 30% increase from the previous year's average of 9.2 million viewers, which had set a record low. Here are selected awards from the event.

RECORD OF THE YEAR: Lizzo - "About Damn Time"
ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Harry Styles - Harry's House
SONG OF THE YEAR: Bonnie Raitt - "Just Like That"
BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM: Harry Styles - Harry's House
BEST ROCK ALBUM: Ozzy Osbourne - Patient Number 9
BEST ROCK SONG: Songwriters Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth & Tim Hanseroth - "Broken Horses"
BEST R&B ALBUM: Robert Glasper - Black Radio III
BEST R&B SONG: Songwriters Denisia Andrews, Beyonce, Brittany Coney, Terius Gesteelde-Diamant, Morten Ristorp, Nile Rodgers & Raphael Saadiq - "The Dream"
BEST RAP ALBUM: Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers
BEST RAP SONG: Songwriters Jake Kosich, Johnny Kosich, Kendrick Lamar & Matt Schaeffer - "The Heart Part 5"
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM - Chris Stapleton - Starting Over
BEST COUNTRY SONG - Songwriters Matt Rogers and Ben Stennis - "'Til You Can't"

See 2022 Music News

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