It’s almost impossible to look beyond the tragedy of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and Las Vegas, so inevitably those tragic events dominate our execs’ worst moments of 2017 in Music Week’s annual poll of industry figures.
Once again, too many music legends seemed to leave us; rising stars, too, including Lil Peep. Amid the optimism surrounding streaming growth, there was a lingering concern over remuneration from services such as YouTube. And while there were more UK breakthroughs in 2017, was it enough?
We’ve heard from the execs about the best things to happen to the biz this year - see part one and part two – but this is their more depressing (but no less insightful) take on the past 12 months. See below for the second instalment (and click here for part one) of the execs' responses to the question ‘what was the worst thing to happen to the music biz in 2017?’
Jo Charrington, co-president, Capitol UK
Without a doubt, the atrocious terrorist attack at Manchester Arena in May, and the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in October.
Martin Bandier, chairman/CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
There couldn’t be anything worse than the tragedies in Manchester and Las Vegas, which made people more cognisant of their attendance at music events. On an entirely different matter, how bad is it that Ed Sheeran was not nominated for any of the main Grammy Awards? Is that a changing tide in America?
Geoff Taylor, chief executive, BPI & BRIT Awards
The Manchester attack at Ariana Grande’s gig. But then one can also talk about the phenomenal response to it, artists and their teams across the musical spectrum coming together to put together something beautiful and defiant in the wake of it.
DJ Semtex, director of artist development, Sony Music UK
Ticket resellers. These people are scum who ruin the live experience for true fans.
Mike Smith, MD, Warner/Chappell UK
The loss of so many great talents. Chuck Berry, Tom Petty, Glen Campbell, Malcolm Young, Fats Domino, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, and the shadow of George Michael’s death has hung over the entire year. The appalling attack on the Manchester Arena was a dreadful blow, but the response to it really did bring out the best in our business.
Richard Davies, founder, Twickets
Viagogo's no-show at the House of Commons Select Committee, demonstrating their contempt for the UK music industry – as if proof were needed.
Kim de Ruiter, director of marketing, VEON
Although diversity is increasingly on the agenda, the music industry is very much still a man’s world – with reportedly 59% of females applying for entry level roles yet fewer than 30% in senior management positions. There is a lot of ground to make up here.
Jon Gisby, head of Europe, Vevo
Manchester and Las Vegas. Everything else pales in comparison.
Peter Leathem, chief executive, PPL
The continued closure of so many important live music venues around the UK. These are the lifeblood of the industry and the places where virtually all festival headliners and stadium acts start out.
Robert Ashcroft, chief executive, PRS For Music
The distribution of streaming royalties – it’s increasingly difficult for the middle tier to earn a living.
Moe Bah, 2K Management
I'd say a lot of talent is being signed too early, which doesn't give them space to grow and have an organic fanbase.
David Manders, Liquid Management/MMF board member
One of my big bugbears remains the existence of merch concessions in certain music venues. Paying 25% of gross on a band’s merch sales is outrageous and there’s absolutely no consideration for the costs involved.
Paul Reed, general manager, Association Of Independent Festivals
The Manchester Arena bombing. The One Love Manchester concert was a phenomenal achievement from all involved, an incredible response by the music industry that demonstrated the sheer power that pop music holds and its necessity in the face of atrocity.
Nitin Sawhney, composer
The rise of violence at music festivals such as the shooting in Las Vegas and the bombing in Manchester.
Nicola Spokes, UK label head, Caroline International
The shocking levels of harassment that came to light across the entertainment industries. No one should be made to feel their workplace is a place of fear, harassment, intimidation or worse – especially when for so many, working in this industry is a dream come true. Hopefully, 2018 heralds a new era.
Jeremy Lascelles, CEO, Blue Raincoat Music and Chrysalis Records
I’m going to say Brexit and Trump, because they seem to me to epitomise everything that’s wrong and ugly in the world today. Happy to blame them for everything!
Helen Smith, executive chair, Impala
Increasing mental health issues facing artists – this is not a new issue of course, but recent data from Music Tank helps put the spotlight on the extent of the problem.
Amy Wheatley, GM, Ministry Of Sound Recordings
The passing of George Michael. Although technically last year, it was huge loss that has continued this year.
Neil Hughes, MD, RCA UK
The Manchester Arena bombing. No parent should drop their child off at a pop gig and then never see them again. No words are big enough to follow this sentence.
Annabella Coldrick, chief executive, MMF
The dreadful attack at the Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester. The response was overwhelming and One Love showed that hope can prevail over fear.
Jamal Edwards, founder, SBTV
Major Ace[’s death], that was sad.
John Woolf, co-founder, A-List Management
The growth of streaming made it harder for new acts to break through at the start of the year, until the Official Charts Company looked at the charts.
Korda Marshall, EVP, new recordings at BMG UK
Still the terrible rates that rights holders receive from Google/YouTube.
Julian Palmer, A&R director, Columbia Records
The current dearth of potential future festival headline acts coming through. More emphasis on short-term, formulaic tracks, and less on patient long-term artist/album development.
Shabs Jobanputra, president, Relentless Records
Secondary ticketing is just totally wrong and unfair. Also, live music venues need more support.
Tom March, co-president, Polydor
Losing Tom Petty. Legend.
Jason Rackham, MD, PIAS
The devastating news about the deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. The music business losing these two huge talents within weeks of each other was a stark reminder of the pressures on the mental health of artists and musicians. It is easy for us to forget that there are real people behind the performers that struggle with the same issues as everyone else. Hopefully, the passing of these two incredible talents will help shine a light on the importance of mental health in the music industry and companies will pay more attention to the well-being of their artists and staff.
Bruce McKenzie, sales director, Townsend Music
The tragic events in Manchester this May without doubt. Seeing the unity in everyone's response, I hope, gave some support to those sadly involved.
Rebecca Ayres, COO, Sound City and Modern Sky UK
The agent of change principle not being passed as a legal requirement, as there are still lots of music venues struggling against closure and they’re the lifeblood of culture across the UK. It’s great that Sadiq Khan has adopted this in London, though, and I hope that, in 2018, other councils take his stand too.
Natalie Judge, general manager, Matador
Best/worst: The #MeToo scandal hitting our industry and realising that sadly everyone has been affected by it. Unfortunately, I’m sure it’s not over yet, but I’m glad that people are finding the strength to come forward.
Chris Price, head of music, BBC radio 1/1Xtra
It’s hard to imagine a worse moment than the Manchester terror attack. But the response from Ariana and her team, as well as from the wider industry – not a single artist dropped out of Radio 1’s Big Weekend, staged just five days later – showed courage, defiance and a determination not to be cowed by cowardice.
The above round-up is just part of our huge review of the year issue, available now.