Never mind “best of” lists, here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the year in music.
It certainly has been an eventful year and, much like silently contemplating a brilliant piece of music that you recently encountered, some of us cannot quite resist the urge to retrospectively assess the year in music gone by. As is often the case, however, most of us seem to do this in terms of end-of-year lists that amount to obvious things like “best albums of 2009” or “best songs of 2009” or “best videos of 2009”. But it gets more interesting with lists like “best musical collaborations of 2009”, or ones like Wired magazine’s “5 Legal Cases that Defined Music in 2009”. And depending where you go with them, they can be very informative and some even useful.
But that’s not to say that the music year gone by is any less worthy of being listed or discussed in various ways. For example, we heard early in the year from the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (the supposed authority on everything music industry-related) that global digital music sales in 2008 witnessed a 25 per cent growth as compared to 2007.
While this may have not been enough to compensate for the rapid decline of physical sales, it is a positive indicator.
In other industry news, the Recording Industry Association of America decided to stop its notorious practise of suing individual file sharers in December 2008. Unfortunately this did not come soon enough to help Jammie Thomas-Rasset, who in 2007 was sued by the RIAA for downloading 24 songs. She lost the case in 2009 and was fined $1.92 million as a result. In a similarly harsh verdict the founders of the Swedish bit torrent site, The Pirate Bay, were served prison terms for aiding file infringement.
In more positive news, music and technology in 2009 continued to collaborate in more innovative ways with the Beatles Rock Band release in 2009 alongside digitally re-mastered versions of the band’s catalogue. On the flip side, former Nirvana members and fans around the world were dismayed to find that an unlocked Kurt Cobain avatar in Guitar Hero 5 could be made to sing songs by Bon Jovi and Bush. But the DVD release of Nirvana’s historic “Live at Reading” performance hopefully provided some respite. And also, in a first of sorts, a U2 webcast of their Rosebowl performance via YouTube was viewed by a supposed audience of 10 million people globally.
There was also the untimely passing of Michael Jackson and the departure of Noel Gallagher from the band Oasis, which coincidentally occurred in the same year that their former rivals Blur decided to reunite. And in more recent news a Facebook campaign aimed at preventing another Simon Cowell product (Joe McElderry this time) from clinching the UK #1 spot over Christmas turned successful when the campaign managed to push the song, “Killing in the Name” (1992) by Rage Against the Machine to the #1 spot instead. And could this mean that Facebook and Twitter, with a little help from iTunes, may just be the gatekeepers of the music business in the future? Only time will tell.