Music sales soared anew last year in the United States backed by the rise of streaming, bringing revenue to a level last seen a decade ago, the industry said Thursday.
The Recording Industry Association of America said that revenue grew a robust 16.5 percent in 2017, marking the first time since 1999 at the dawn of online music that the business has expanded for two years in a row.
Recorded music sales in the world’s largest music market from all formats totalled $8.7 billion, returning to the revenue level seen in 2008 even if it is still 40 percent below the pre-internet peak.
The growth was almost entirely attributable to the public’s embrace of streaming, with subscriptions to paid platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and the new service of retail giant Amazon growing 56 percent to 35.3 million users.
The biggest loser in the rise of on-demand streaming has been digital downloads on iTunes and elsewhere, which tumbled 25 percent. Physical sales also fell but were propped up the continued resurgence among audiophiles of vinyl, for which revenue jumped 10 percent.
With the countervailing trends, revenue from physical sales outpaced digital downloads in the United States for the first time since 2011.
Streaming has been transforming the music business in much of the world, although artists frequently complain that they see little of the industry’s newfound bounty.
But Cary Sherman, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, pointed to a study that record labels worldwide invested $4.5 billion in artist development and marketing in 2015.
“More than any other creative industry, music companies successfully transformed themselves ahead of the transition to streaming, all while forging stronger relationships with their most important partner: the artist,” he wrote in a blog post.
He reiterated the industry’s concerns that antiquated laws have capped revenue from advancing even further. But he voiced hope that the US Congress will soon pass a bill, backed by members of both major parties, that would guarantee that online radio stations pay royalties for songs recorded before 1972, which are exempt under current law.
Jay-Z, who once boycotted the Grammys as biased against hip-hop, was hailed Saturday by the music industry’s power brokers ahead of the latest awards where he leads nominations.
The rapper who rose from a broken home to become a hip-hop multimillionaire was contrite over his previous attacks on the Grammys when he accepted a prize as an “industry icon” at a pre-award gala thrown by veteran music executive Clive Davis.
Jay-Z refused to attend the Grammys in 1999 because the Recording Academy which administers the awards snubbed fellow rapper DMX.
He stayed away, upset at the lack of recognition for hip-hop, until coming in 2004 with wife-to-be Beyonce, who joined him on Saturday.
“I realize like, man, art is super subjective and everybody is doing their best and the Academy, they are human like we are,” Jay-Z told the packed ballroom in New York’s Times Square.
“We can pretend we don’t care, but we really care,” he said of Grammy recognition. “We care because we see the most incredible artists stand on that stage and we aspire to be there.”
A who’s who of top artists performed in Jay-Z’s honor, with soul legend Gladys Knight singing her classic “Midnight Train to Georgia” and Luis Fonsi dancing through his viral hit “Despacito.”
Alicia Keys weaved Jay-Z’s songs from “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” to their collaboration “Empire State of Mind” into a piano medley, in which she raised her hands and led a chant of the rapper’s nickname Hov.
Breakthrough year for rap
Jay-Z is in the running for eight awards at Sunday’s Grammys including Album of the Year for “4:44,” a strikingly introspective work in which the rapper apologizes for infidelity to Beyonce and supports his mother as she comes out as lesbian.
The music industry’s premier awards gala — which has returned to New York after 15 years in Los Angeles — is shaping up to be a big night for hip-hop, which for the first time makes up a majority of nominations in the top categories.
Jay-Z is already one of the most accoladed artists in Grammy history with 21 awards. But until this year he had always been passed over for the main categories.
Jay-Z grew up fatherless in Brooklyn and became a small-time drug dealer.
He is now worth an estimated $1 billion with Beyonce after amassing a business empire that includes fashion, entertainment and the Tidal streaming service.
In an interview aired Saturday on CNN for a new show of Van Jones, the community activist and former aide to president Barack Obama, Jay-Z urged African American entrepreneurship.
“Until we come to the table with our own… power base, nothing will change,” he said.
Jay-Z is nominated for Record of the Year, which recognizes the top song, for “The Story of O.J.,” which explores the persistence of racism with his own success as a backdrop.
While Jay-Z is ahead for Sunday, music industry prognosticators see fewer clear-cut favorites compared with previous years.
West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar closely trails Jay-Z with seven nominations amid acclaim for his album “DAMN.,” a return to a classic hip-hop sound by an artist known for his experimentation.
Lamar’s previous album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” offered an unofficial musical soundtrack for the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality — but, to the disappointment of many music industry watchers, was denied Album of the Year two years ago.
Album of the Year contenders also include two high-selling pop albums — “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars, who has revived fun-loving retro funk, and “Melodrama” by Lorde, the 21-year-old pop prodigy from New Zealand.
A dark horse in the category is “‘Awaken, My Love!’,” the psychedelic, R&B-infused album of Childish Gambino, the rap alter ego of actor and comedian Donald Glover.
Lorde is the only woman nominated in one of the two top categories — despite the growing attention to gender discrimination in the entertainment industry following revelations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
In a show of support for the #MeToo movement, performers selected for the televised Grammy show include Kesha, who has taken on sexism in the industry after accusing her producer of raping her.
A group set up by female entertainment executives plans to hand out white roses as a show of solidarity with women fighting abuse.
Following the successful release of the music video for his latest single, ‘Alagbawi’, musicologist and gospel music singer, Precious Sam, hosted an album release concert in Lagos, for the new album titled ‘The Future’.
Giving insight on the title of the album, he explained that “the future is bright” although many seem to have given up on Nigeria.
He said it is a reminder that other developed countries have had their fair share of hardship however, they overcame.
In the case of Nigeria, he says everyone ought to be in unity as the nation is only passing through a phase.
He also hinted that some tracks on the album give insight as to where the problems lay, rather than the popular idea that it’s the fault of the government.
The gospel artist says his academic background in music gives him an edge and the opportunity to create something unique which he called a fusion of afro-beat and high-life.
He considers his music to fully message-based as opposed to the dance concept of regular music.
Business With God
Another gospel singer and music partner, Monique expressed joy over the album launch, saying that she feels blessed to win souls for God through the ministrations.
“Doing business with God is always profitable we are winning souls and getting blessed.
“Even if other artists are killing it, we are winning it. we are not setting our standards by whatever they are winning,” she said.
Dancehall artist, Patoranking, has released a video to one of the tracks off his new album, God Over Everything.
The track titled ‘money’, features rapper, Phyno, and was directed by Sesan.
The Alubarika crooner, who started his career as a dancer, and lover of ghetto music as well as dancehall vibes, appears to now be the rave of the moment.
With his vocal command and patois flair, he has so far done over 10 collaborations, including that of his ‘Girly o’ remix in which he featured Nigeria’s Biggest Female artist, Tiwa Savage.
Penthauze label member, Phyno, on the other hand, has gained much popularity for his unique rap style usually done in the Igbo language.
With recent collaborations with artists such as YBNL’s Olamide, law graduate turned musician/comedian, Falz, and many others in the industry, the artist appears to have gained even more fan base.
AO Of G.R.A.P Music Drops New Single
Meanwhile, G.R.A.P music signee, A.O, has dropped his first official single, ‘Walahi Walahi which features label mate, Vector and rapper, Jesse Jagz.
The highly anticipated track was produced by heavily sought after Producer Licious Crackitt.
Some reviews on the track have already revealed that there seemed to be a lot of refreshing experimentation on the record, most noticeable the relaxed baritone voice singing in the chorus.
With Falz ‘upping’ his rap game with more frequent collaborations as well as music releases, he has yet again featured Ajebutter 22 and Fresh L on a new track titled ‘Regards To Your Mumsy’ which was produced by Oluwasesan.
It was a star-studded, black carpet event at the premiere of AY’s new movie, ‘A Trip to Jamaica’, in Lagos.
Among those in attendance were fans, supporters as well as celebrities in the music, film and fashion industries.
The movie, which was a mix of Hollywood, Nollywood and Ghallywood actors, featured Funke Akindele, Nse Ikpe Etim, Chris Attoh, Dan Davids, Eric Roberts, Rebecca Sylvera, Paul Campbell and AY among others.
In 2014, comedian Ayomakun popularly known as AY, released his debut feature length film ’30 days in Atlanta’, which gained rave reviews and eventually became a box office hit, as the highest grossing film in Nigerian cinema.
Despite mixed reviews, the Robert Peters directed comedy, came back with the spin-off in 2016 ‘A Trip To Jamaica’.
AY, who is regarded as one of Nigeria’s highest grossing comedians, explained that he decided it would be a good idea to shoot the movie in Jamaica because he discovered after some research, that “Jamaicans love Nollywood movies, and we also love their culture, especially in the aspect of Music”.
He also said that as part of making it work, there were a lot of collaborations along-side the movie. Such collaborations he said were between Tiwa Savage and singer, Busy Signal, who created the official motion picture soundtrack for the movie.
Director, Robert Peters further explained the multicultural film, saying “we are trying to connect, trying to make a cross cultural movie and at the end of the day, it is aimed at giving our film a world view”.
AY also addressed concerns on piracy, a menace to which the ’30 days in Atlanta’ fell victim. He said certain measures have been put in place to avoid a repetition.
He, however, appealed to the government to take proactive steps to allay the fears of stakeholders in the creative industry.
Funke Akindele And JJC
Another interesting detail that crowned the event was the first time appearance of Funke Akindele, A.K.A Jenifa, with her singer husband, Abdul Rasheed Bello A.K.A JJC skills.
The couple, who had gotten married in a secret wedding, in London on August 23, 2016, finally came open in public for the first time during the premiere of the movie ‘A Trip To Jamaica’.
Reports say they chose a quiet wedding in London because neither of them wanted to be at the center of attention, having been on that lane before.
“The decision to do it quietly was right for us and we pray for the understanding of our close friends and fans at this offer of a lifetime moment,” the couple said.
“Music is something that always gives me joy. It helps me go through a lot of my challenges while growing up, Nigeria’s singer, Joy Bucknor, said, expressing hopes that she could inspire other Nigerians too.
Joy shared her thoughts on her inspirational single ‘Mercy’ saying, she wrote the song because “right now, we all need God’s mercy, nobody is exempted from the mercy of God”.
She was speaking to channels Channels Television few days ago on her drive, inspiration and music as her lifestyle.
Joy, who recently joined the music industry professionally in 2014, is a graduate of Computer Engineering with a dream to change the world through music.
According to the singer, her father told her she had always been drawn to music.
She says, she wants to inspire people with her genre of music. “I do inspirational music, my songs are songs that give people hope.
“I share my heart out in my song, making sure that I stay true to my lyrics. My lyrical content are things that inspire people,” Joy added
According to her, Nigeria is often perceived in bad light by foreign media, which is why she featured clips of some foreign leaders such as President Obama, in the music video for ‘Mercy’.
She said her reason for including the clips were to prove that there was chaos all around and that one do not have to look too far to see it.
She also added that “what inspired the music video was just everything happening in the world, because we are humans and we all have issues”.