As we come to the end of 2017, Music Week has reached out to many of the biggest names from across the biz for our annual poll on the highs, the lows and the standout songs and albums of the past year.
In a year marked by tragedy in Manchester and Las Vegas, there were also reasons to be cheerful with the music industry consolidating its return to growth and the market successfully transitioning to streaming. It’s also been an incredible 12 months for grime and UK rap, a pretty good year for debut UK artists and a period in which big names, from Ed Sheeran to Liam Gallagher, delivered the goods.
This year, our execs have picked out a plethora of memorable moments – there are so many, we can’t squeeze them all into one piece. Throughout the week we’ll be providing snapshots of what the industry pinpointed as its best (and worst) moments. And don’t forget, you can read our full review of the year in our bumper Christmas edition, which is out now.
See below for the first instalment of responses to the key question ‘what was the best thing to happen to the music biz in 2017?’
David Joseph, Chairman and CEO, Universal Music UK and Ireland
The return of justifiable optimism and finally an understanding that the increasing diversity of our industry is what will bring us growth and success. What’s happening in British urban music, both artistically and culturally, has made everyone sit up, in a very good way. Another big positive has been to see the breathtaking opportunities opening up in new markets around the world.
Jo Charrington, co-president, Capitol UK
The resurgence of urban pop music with artists like Post Malone, Migos and Kendrick Lamar.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive, BPI & BRIT Awards
The return of significant growth to the business, since that will allow for more investment into new artists.
Alexi Cory-Smith, president, creative & marketing, BMG UK
The continued take-up in streaming together with the re-energised live business. After its ‘special period’ this is a great time to be in or entering this industry. Personally, we have enjoyed year-on-year growth coupled with profitability at BMG - you may not have believed me if, in 2003, I’d predicted that was possible again.
Mike Smith, MD, Warner/Chappell UK
The explosion in British urban music has been the best thing to happen to the UK music industry in years. A grassroots scene has gone from the underground to dominate popular culture and has brought an authentic voice of consciousness that has long been absent from the charts. The return of Liam Gallagher has been terrific to be around as well, the greatest British rock and roll star of the last 25 years regaining his crown.
Guy Moot, UK MD and president, worldwide creative, Sony/ATV
Obvious, but a continued growth of subscription numbers and streams.
Frances Moore, CEO, IFPI
The continuing recovery of the market – driven by the growth of paying streaming subscribers – after so many years of revenue decline.
Kanya King, founder and CEO, MOBO Awards
It has to be the incredible rise of British black music. One only has to look at the charts, on social media, online and in British culture, the evidence is everywhere. In particular, the grime scene has brought not only huge creative and commercial success to the scene, but the British music industry as a whole, with our own home-grown artists working with some of the biggest US stars in the world and flying the flag for our country.
Michael Dugher, chief executive, UK Music
The best thing came out of the worst possible circumstances and that was the One Love concert that I went to in Manchester. The whole industry pulled together so quickly to put the gig on. It was the ultimate act of defiance in the face of terror. And the message was all about love conquering hate.
Kim Bayley, chief executive, ERA
Naturally the continuing growth in the market is a cause for celebration, but even more than that is the growing recognition of the symbiotic relationship between record companies and the retailers and digital services who connect fans with music. We have always been happy to acknowledge the importance of labels in finding, developing and investing in new talent. What is now more widely accepted than ever before is the great work our members have done in creating new business models which benefit everyone.
Steve Homer, co-CEO, AEG Presents
The resilience of the public to still go to live music shows after the terror attacks.
Sammy Andrews, founder/CEO, Deviate Digital
The industry has returned to growth and we’re finally embracing streaming… the main driver! Many of us said it would happen, whilst many thought all was lost. Now, though, we must build on this, we need to innovate and we need to collectively take the next steps to address all that comes with the streaming age, including payments, rights, transparency, data usage, ownership and access, for starters.
Paul Pacifico, CEO, AIM
Stormzy turning up to the AIM Awards on a motorbike just to get there in time! Shows love for, and dedication to, the grass roots.
Emmanuel de Buretel, founder, Because Music
Worldwide growth of streaming, up 50%. Today, any release is a worldwide release – you have more and more access to the world market and new artists are coming from all these new developing regions. Mexico, Brazil, Africa, China are becoming important in consumption and will bring an increasing number of new artists to the world.
Jeff Smith, head of music, BBC Radio 2/6 Music
With Max Lousada arriving at Warner in the US, UK-born music professionals are now running all the international major labels in the USA. I also think it’s good that there appears to be a growing dynamic for music and music content, including increased support from the BBC across all our platforms.
Gadi Oron, director general, CISAC
The best thing was that the business grew at an accelerating rate. The next mission is to make sure authors get their fair share of those growing revenues.
Mike Walsh, head of music/deputy programming director, Radio X
From a Radio X perspective, Liam and Noel returning in quick succession, both with truly great albums and plenty to say. Both bringing rock ’n’ roll spirit and inspired songwriting back to a large audience.
Nicola Spokes, UK label head, Caroline International
Streaming reaching a tipping point – it feels like there’s real optimism for the future of the industry after many years of doom and gloom and I’m really excited about what that means for artists in terms of flexibility, creativity and the ability to experiment.
Imogen Heap, artist in residence, Featured Artist Coalition
Blockchain has gone from strength to strength, changing the way we can imagine our now and future. It's here to stay and as we shift from an internet of knowledge to one of value, all those in the business of IP can get very excited. Plus, Lucie Caswell becoming CEO of the Featured Artist Coalition, of course!
Jeremy Lascelles, CEO, Blue Raincoat Music and Chrysalis Records
The Warner/Impala/Merlin divestment process. I know it’s been long, drawn out, complex and frustrating but how great is it to see often neglected repertoire returned into the hands of independent companies, who might give it a bit of love and attention? Or, in the case of Everything But The Girl, back into the hands of its original creators.
Ali Fletcher, A&R manager, Insanity Records
The power that has been afforded to unsigned artists to build and release music ‘properly’ with the backing and support of non-major label outlets/label services etc. Ultimately, it hasn’t made our job (majors) any easier, but the long-term positive effect on a wider range of successful UK artists from all different genres can only be a good thing for British music.
Helen Smith, executive chair, Impala
The European Union taking a tough stance on competition in the digital market – with heavy fines for tax avoidance schemes and, of course, for Google’s blatant abuse of its search dominance.
Marc Robinson, president, Globe – creative & commercial, Universal Music UK
The rise and rise and influence of music used in the global television market, from Michael KIwanuka’s Cold Little Heart in Big Little Lies, Max Richter’s score of Taboo, the music from Ozark, Black Mirror and Stranger Things to Blue Planet II’s epic score. With streaming also making all this music accessible and immediate, it’s exciting times for film and TV music.
Amy Wheatley, GM, Ministry Of Sound Recordings
Afro bashment breaking through into the UK scene.
Neil Hughes, MD, RCA UK
The success of the Ed Sheeran and Rag’N’Bone Man album campaigns proving that new artists can still break through and sell/stream at extremely high levels and superstar album releases can launch very big – and then still sell significantly for much longer than a month. The fact these things happened is good for the whole industry.
Korda Marshall, EVP, new recordings at BMG UK
The continued growth of streaming, up 53%, and the rise of the smart speaker, up 33%, means that finding, playing and discovering old and new music is the easiest it’s ever been. Also Nick Cave at the O2 was pure genius.
Caroline Elleray, head of A&R, Universal Music Publishing
Glastonbury - drunk and happy with oldest and newest friends. Stormzy was brilliant. The xx were sublime. Radiohead. Jeremy Corbyn.
Julian Palmer, A&R director, Columbia Records
An increasingly adventurous, more experimental, genre-bending spirit at grassroots level.
Shabs Jobanputra, president, Relentless Records
The way Relentless as a team and a label has grown in our 18th year. Otherwise, everyone cheering up as they are making money now.
Tom March, co-president, Polydor
Lots of excellent new British artists breaking through again – and a lot of them were ours.
Annabella Coldrick, chief executive, MMF
Liam Gallagher's video announcement for the NME Godlike Genius Award. That and the FanFair campaign changing the law, Google's ad policy and providing evidence to the CMA on the extent of the broken market.
David Bianchi, CEO, Various Artists
The speed the that the Asian markets are opening up for both live and recorded music.
Jason Rackham, MD, PIAS
It is difficult to see past the Manchester One Love concert, a reminder of the positive force that music can wield. Hats off again to those involved in putting it together and to the artists who stepped in.
Bruce McKenzie, sales director, Townsend Music
A truly independent artist such as Stormzy breaking through globally on his terms.
Rebecca Ayres, COO, Sound City and Modern Sky UK
Programmes like ReBalance and Both Sides Now being set up to address gender imbalance in the music industry, and the drive from festivals and organisations to recognise and challenge this. The issue is now part of mainstream dialogue and, although there’s a way to go, it’s good that, across the business, gender imbalance is now being taken seriously and that we’re trying to address it.
Drew Hill, MD, Proper Music Group
We moved, finally! Ending three years of uncertainty for staff and giving us the platform to build for the future.
Nitin Sawhney, composer
New software plug-ins that emerged this year for use by composers in film. There has been a huge revolution in the last 12 months in the ability of composers to create more realistic scores for film before they go in to record with live orchestra.
Chris Walsh, head of brand & creative, Tixserve
Technology is improving the discovery process of music and powering the ability to form new closer relationships between artists/promoters and fans. We hope to see this continue and urge the live industry itself to take full advantage of what technology can offer. We specialise in mobile ticket fulfilment, but tech is creating new opportunities across the entire music biz. It’s a really exciting time to be involved.