2015 has been a very interesting and exciting year, especially in the music industry. We’ve seen more music platforms and record labels emerge, and a lot of music (is it just me or was there a whole lot of new music?). There’s also been a lot of connections, a few public disputes, and overall lessons learned (and reminded of) this year about the industry. Keep on readin’ to see the ten lessons I’ve learned from the industry this year.
- Record contracts are what you make of them.
Signing a recording contract can be a form of slavery, like Prince said, or it could be okay. Yup, I’m saying this after what I wrote earlier this year. I’m coming to this conclusion from seeing Pusha T become President of G.O.O.D. Music and Janelle Monáe become a label owner, accompanied by a joint venture partnership with Epic Records. I won’t deny the scary aspects of signing deals, but maybe the “slavery” of a recording contract depends on the artist’s involvement in the signing process and his/her relationship with the label. Let’s see if my point of view changes again in 2016.
- R&B isn’t dead — it’s being overshadowed by rap and pop.
Other than The Weeknd, we’ve had new releases from Jazmine Sullivan, Tyrese, Lalah Hathaway, Tamia, Jill Scott, Monica and more. Check out this list from NPR and look at this Google search of some of the major albums that came out this year. This isn’t even all of them. Crazy, right?
- Suing Jay-Z over copyright infringement is a waste of time.
- If you’re beefing with someone, just lay all your frustrations out in a song, not on social media.
I don’t have to mention too much about the self-inflicted Meek Mill tragedy on behalf of his “trigger fingers that turned into Twitter fingers.” Social media, a concert performance at OVO Fest, and two highly publicized diss tracks from Drake, “Charged Up“ and “Back To Back,” didn’t do too well for Meek, who claimed that Drake used a reference track (aka he didn’t write his verse) for “R.I.C.O.,” Drake’s feature on Meek’s album. It’s safe to say that Meek was right about the reference track, but the way Meek aired out the “dirty laundry” outshined the message. Now, Drake’s nominated for a GRAMMY for “Back to Back.” I think it’s safe to say he won this beef.
- You can still be relevant after x number of years of not being extremely visible in the industry. Just release something.
- Buying mixtapes like they‘re albums is the new wave.
Drake’s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late. Drake & Future’s What A Time To Be Alive. Erykah Badu’s But You Caint Use My Phone. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen mixtapes being sold online, but it’s becoming normal.
- Great music will be recognized, even if it isn’t “trendy.”
Kendrick Lamar, anyone? To Pimp A Butterfly came out in March and people are still listening to it, talking about it, and learning lessons from it, even though it doesn’t sound like his previous release, good kid, m.A.A.d. city.
- Music streaming isn’t going anywhere for a while.
Apple Music is booming. Spotify is still holding strong. Tidal has a lot of exclusives, particularly new music, music videos and live streams. Taylor Swift, Prince and The Beatles have placed their music on at least one music streaming platform in 2015. YouTube has even put themselves in streaming by charging for services in certain aspects. Yeah…it’s not going anywhere.
- Jazz is still relevant.
Listen to Kamasi Washington’s debut album The Epic. If you can, check out a live performance of it. Then listen to his jazz arrangements on TPAB. Let me know what you think then.
- The industry is way too saturated.
This point is a reminder of a similar idea I had back in 2014, but it’s much more noticeable this year than last year. I’ve lost track of so many albums that came out this year that I didn’t feel comfortable doing a Top 10 list. I can’t even say that I listened intently to 10 albums that came out this year…and that’s probably because I’ve listened to TPAB so much that I didn’t want to listen to much of anything else.
…and that’s it! I hope you all have a happy new year and I plan to share more new and awesome content with you all at the top of the new year! Let me know what you’ve learned from the music industry in the comments or on Twitter.