There’s always bad news for the music business to cope with every year, but 2017 was truly shocking as the industry - like the wider world - tried to come to terms with the tragedy of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and Las Vegas. At least the response of artists, the live sector and fans raised the spirits and started the healing process.
Like 2016, there seemed to be far too many music legends passing away, including Tom Petty, Malcolm Young and Glen Campbell, as well as rising stars such as Lil Peep and respected industry figures such as Dave Chumbley and John Preston. This year was also the moment the industry had to fully process the uncertainty of Brexit.
We’ve heard from the execs about the best things to happen to the biz this year - see part one and part two - and now it’s time for their least favourite moments. See below for the first instalment of the execs' responses to the question ‘what was the worst thing to happen to the music biz in 2017?’
Jane Third, global chief creative officer, PIAS
Triggering of Article 50. Although Brexit hasn’t happened yet, the prospect is daunting enough.
David Joseph, chairman and CEO, Universal Music UK and Ireland
The horrific terror attack in Manchester Arena. Music has always been a force for peace and togetherness so seeing so many innocent music fans lose their lives was heartbreaking on so many levels.
Guy Moot, UK MD and president, worldwide creative, Sony/ATV
A lack of new breakthrough UK acts on the world stage. Everybody would acknowledge that as much as there has been some smaller breakthrough this year with the likes of Rag’N’Bone Man and J Hus, where are the next Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith? I don’t think we are replenishing our global heritage artists.
Frances Moore, CEO, IFPI
The appalling attacks at concerts in Manchester and Las Vegas were an attack on the freedom of people to enjoy live music without fear of harm. The powerful response from the communities, fans, artists, and the wider industry has been incredibly heartening.
Kanya King, founder and CEO, MOBO Awards
The sad passing of some music industry greats, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Al Jarreau, Joni Sledge, Dr Psycho, Major Ace, Clyde Stubblefield, Prodigy, sadly too many to mention, all of which have impacted the music business in their own way and paved a way for future artists.
Michael Dugher, chief executive, UK Music
The terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena. To murder and maim so many innocent people, at a gig with so many children at it, was just evil.
Kim Bayley, chief executive, ERA
The seemingly endless death toll of music greats from Walter Becker and Glen Campbell to Malcolm Young, Tom Petty and David Cassidy. It’s in the nature of things that this happens, but when you have an emotional connection to an artist and their music, I think we all feel it.
Sammy Andrews, founder/CEO, Deviate Digital
The continuation of the unregulated secondary ticketing market. So many artists have this year felt the wrath of fans unable to attend their shows owing to secondary and I’ve seen a notable shift in fan sentiment the past 12 months. Have no doubt it is damaging artist-fan relations and it needs addressing collectively as an industry.
Paul Pacifico, CEO, AIM
Consolidation of independent distributors into majors trapping multiple independent labels in the major eco-system – it works against choice and transparency in the value chain.
Emmanuel de Buretel, founder, Because Music
Algorithms. The 2017 Spotify or Apple Top 100 will almost be exclusively urban pop. Alternative music, rock music, electro, world music have disappeared from the streaming charts. Should we ask the question – is technology mainly bringing up Orwell’s 1984 barbarism: only one pop genre? These platforms will kill themselves if they become mono-genre.
Gadi Oron, director general, CISAC
The shocking, tragic events at Manchester and Las Vegas. It’s no coincidence that those who want to harm us the most attack culture and cultural events which bring people together in happiness.
Mike Walsh, head of music/deputy programming director, Radio X
Much bigger than just the music industry – May 22 at Manchester Arena – still no words, still hard to process.
Alex Boateng, head of urban, Island Records
People calling anything/everything grime that had a MC involved.
Jo Whitty, director, Sound City +
The closure of more grassroots music venues across the UK. These venues are where new music is bred.
Peter Breeden, CFO & COO, Warner Music UK
The terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena and the senseless loss of innocent young lives who were there purely to enjoy a night out seeing one of their favourite artists.
Dan Chalmers, president, Rhino, East West & ADA UK
The enseless attack of innocent people at concert venues around the world.
Jim Chancellor, president, Fiction Records & co-MD Caroline International
Manchester Arena bombing was utterly tragic.
Toby Leighton-Pope, co-CEO, AEG Presents
The terrorist attack in Manchester was of course horrific. But I think both fans and artists stood strong and the One Love Manchester concert was a great moment.
Duncan Scott, general manager, Black Butter Records
The bombing at Manchester Arena and the mass shooting at the festival in Las Vegas were both horrific.
Pete Leggatt, VP of sales & business development, Sony Music UK
The tragic events at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester in May.
Ben Mortimer, co-president, Polydor
Constantly hearing the phrase, “We’re not going to do a deal”. I truly believe a good record label can still add immense value to artists’ careers. I think the tide is changing on this though.
Nick Raphael, co-president, Capitol UK
There weren't enough breakthroughs.
Ted Cockle, president, Virgin EMI
The terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena in May put a horrible stake through the very heartland of artists performing live. Week in, week out, up and down the country, artists make people sing, laugh, smile and dance on their big nights out and this was shattered for so many people in the most heartbreaking of fashions.
Pamela McCormick, founder/director, Urban Development
The passing of more artists and legends, Fats Domino, Al Jarreau, Chuck Berry, it’s important that the younger generation know of their incredible contribution.
Jon Barlow, founder, 3 Beat
Manchester Arena terrorist bomb. Shook me to the core.
Simon Pursehouse, director of music services, Sentric Music
The atrocities that happened at events in Manchester and Las Vegas. Live music is supposed to be a refuge, a place to go to forget about everything for a couple of hours and lose yourself in the music you adore. The fact that so many people lost their lives doing something they love and what the majority of us do on a weekly basis is terrifying and deeply upsetting.
Henry Semmence, MD, Absolute Label Services
The continued poor deal that copyright holders receive from YouTube.
Richard Robinson, CEO, Help Musicians UK
Personally, the end of Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service. It was the best thing across BBC platforms and I’ll mourn its loss.
The deaths of Malcolm Young and Chris Cornell.
Stan McLeod, CEO/co-founder, Headliner
The continued problems with secondary ticketing. Both Songkick and Ticketmaster have demonstrated progress with some excellent ticketing innovation, but there is a long way to go. Perhaps a review of how talent is programmed and toured is required to ease some supply and demand issues.
Pieter van Rijn, CEO, FUGA
Despite the technology being available to make data processing, royalty reporting and payments more transparent and efficient, collection societies have not yet been able to fulfil songwriters’ needs (although not for a lack of trying).