In the new issue of Music Week, we mark the end of another relentless year in the music biz with a look back at the stories that shook the industry, from George Ezra’s success and Spotify’s IPO, to the soundtracks boom and the upturn in stadium shows.
In keeping with festive tradition, Music Week invited the industry to hold court on the moments that defined 2018. In the second of a yuletide series (read part one here and part two here), we present your chance to reflect on 12 action-packed months.
Kim Bayley, CEO, Entertainment Retailers Association
Best: "The return of positivity. It has been a long haul out of the deep trough the industry found itself in. Naturally we are extremely proud of the pivotal role digital services and retailers have played in all that, but are happy to celebrate the collective effort of the entire industry. Together we made it happen."
Worst: "Sadly we live in times in which there is no shortage of “worst things”, so the really worst thing is the time we lose to all of them."
Robert Ashcroft, CEO, PRS For Music
Best: "The positive vote on the EU Copyright Directive in September was a bold step forward to ensuring a functioning and sustainable digital single market for creative content. I appreciate we still have much work to do and face a hostile campaign of misinformation, but it was a hugely positive step. Credit is also due to our colleagues across the Atlantic who have successfully steered the Music Modernization Act into U.S. law."
Worst: "If not July’s vote against the EU Copyright Directive, which we recovered from, then perhaps the continued risk that Brexit holds for our members who tour. These creators need assurance that they will not be held back by prohibitive visa costs and unnecessary red tape."
Steve Homer, co-CEO, AEG Presents
Best: "David Byrne brought the best live show of the year without question – innovative, unique and brilliantly delivered."
Worst: "The further demise of the guitar as the weapon of choice for new artists."
Jane Dyball, CEO, Music Publishers Association
Best: "It’s a tie - Article 13’s journey so far – the industry really came together when it counted although there’s still much to do. Also our intiative for young music publishers – the YMPA."
Worst: "The misinformation coming from Youtube/Google’s lobbying army."
Michael Dugher, CEO, UK Music
Best: "Two things: firstly, ensuring that Agent Of Change was enshrined in planning laws to give grassroots music venues the protection they deserve. Secondly, winning the vote on the EU Copyright Directive that should hopefully force Google’s YouTube to finally pay fair rewards to the music creators."
Worst: "Two things again: we continue to march towards Brexit without progress on the visa waiver agreements we need to ensure musicians and artists will still have the freedom to work across Europe. More cost and bureaucracy will make touring simple unviable for many. 2018 also saw more evidence of the disastrous decline of music in state education. We’re in danger of turning music into something you can only do if you’ve got well-off parents."
Peter Leathem, CEO, PPL
Best: "2018 has been such a strong year for the music business, between collective success in lobbying for Article 13 to amend copyright law and seeing recorded music industry revenue increase again. For PPL, launching PPL PRS Ltd – our joint venture for public performance licensing with PRS For Music – was a huge achievement. We were also delighted to win the Company Award for Diversity in the Workplace at the Music Week Women In Music Awards. Personally, I was delighted to be appointed to the Board of SCAPR – the international trade body for performer CMOs – and to become the chair of The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, the healthcare charity for those in the performing arts.
Worst: "Amongst many musicians and singers it was particularly sad for the world to lose Aretha Franklin, one of the most talented, iconic and influential female artists of our time."
Mark Davyd, CEO, Music Venue Trust
Best: "The changing of Planning Guidance was a huge step forward for protecting our Grassroots Music Venues; it not only did something hugely practical and meaningful after too many years of conversations, it created a moment of real change in the apoproach to those venues and demonstrated that we can actually achieve better protection and support for them."
Worst: "Brexit. And it will be the worst thing in 2019 as well unless people start listening. Why? Because we're literally cutting off our access to major markets for our musicians for no gain at all."
Vanessa Reed, CEO, PRS Foundation
Best: "Cross-industry awareness of the need to diversify and rebalance the industry, helped by the gender pay gap reporting & other grass roots movements which have had a huge impact this year. Working together towards change that will benefit everyone and make the industry stronger has to be the best thing that could happen."
Worst: "The ongoing threat of Brexit because of its potential impact on the free movement of artists across EU borders."
Crispin Hunt, songwriter/producer, chair, BASCA
Best: "Easy, the best thing happened in September when the European Parliament voted through the EU Copyright Directive. Copyright has needed updating ever since music stopped being trapped in bits of plastic and went viral- this is the beginning of that reform. The Directive aims to protect the future value of culture online for all:creators, performers and their investors. It balances the interests of consumers with those of creators, the interests of creators with those of copyright investors and finally the interests of investors with digital giants (like Google’s YouTube). It's good law, and European citizens can vote democratically to evolve it, whereas we cant vote for the terms and service of platforms."
Worst: "Ha! In my opinion definitely the disinformation campaign (and spamming MEP’s campaign allegedly underwritten) by You Tube designed to manipulate public and political opinion against the EU copyright directive: Its blatant, unfettered commercial self interest masquerading as ideology .YouTube are the biggest and probably the best streaming service on the planet, they just don't seem to want to admit it or to fairly reward the creators who drive their business. So they shelter behind anachronistic safe harbour laws repeating their ‘don't shoot me I’m just the postman’ gag while harvesting the fruits of others labour. To be honest, from a personal perspective, the most depressing moment was seeing YouTube purchase the cover of Music Week trying to divide and rule the business."
Mick Glossop, record producer and executive director, Music Producers Guild
Best: "The emergence of Jaxsta as a serious initiative to finally create an on-line database (like the film world's IMDB) for music production and all who participate in it."
Worst: "Technically this is something that didn't happen, but I lament the failure to hold Youtube to account and force it to pay royalty rates in line with other streaming services."
Gadi Oron, director-general, CISAC
Best: "It has been another positive year, with growth globally and new digital licensing deals. But thinking of the long term health of the sector, it is hard to beat the picture of thousands of individual music creators speaking out as one to support the EU copyright directive - and persuading MEPs to vote the right way."
Worst: "We lost many iconic artists but the death of Tim Bergling (Avicii), such a young, talented and globally popular musician, was particularly tragic."
Horace Trubridge, general secretary, Musicians' Union
Best: "The best thing that happened in 2018 was the music industry uniting in its opposition to Brexit. Brexit is overwhelmingly a bad deal for musicians and the music industry and must be stopped."
Worst: "The sudden and tragic death of the genius that was Avicii. We will never get to enjoy all the amazing music he would have no doubt gone on to produce."
Sybil Bell, founder, Independent Venue Week
Best: "What was the best thing that happened to the music business in 2018 and why? For us, it has to be a huge increase in awareness and love of small, live music venues. Whilst IVW runs in January, we’ve been doing more throughout the year and that is set to continue on a much bigger scale in 2019. We had over 72k people go through the doors of venues during IVW in Jan/Feb 2018. Industry is getting more involved and as a result so are more gig-goers."
Worst: "The growing disparity of money at the both ends of the live music spectrum. Money needs to come back to support the small venues from the bigger companies who rely on these spaces to nurture new talent."
Helen Smith, executive chair, IMPALA
Best: “Copyright vote in the European Parliament in September, because it took place amidst a huge anti-copyright campaign on an unprecedented scale.”
Worst: “Death threats for parliamentarians standing up for copyright, because it says a lot about the risk to democracy when today’s information monopolies are able to use their networks to determine what people should think. They control giant communication and advertising spaces, which offer a competitive advantage on a scale simply not accessible to ordinary businesses. Using it for your own propaganda, not least by exploiting kids, would be outlawed in the traditional media.”