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2018: A Year In Review

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(CelebrityAccess) — The holidays are here again and as is a tradition at CelebrityAccess, we like to take a look back on the events that shaped the industry over the course of 2018.

This year marked the ascent of music streaming. While the digital sector has, for years, been the bright spot of profit in the recorded music industry, 2018 saw IPOs by major music streamers such as Spotify and most recently, by their Chinese rivals Tencent.

Spotify started off strong after it debuted on the stock market in April with an innovative non-IPO IPO, with its share price hitting almost $200 dollars before falling back to earth in recent months. SiriusXM, which at one time, appeared as if it might have become a legacy technology, has seen a revival of its fortunes and this year posted net profits of almost $1 billion for 2018 with a full quarter left to report.

SiriusXM has also moved into the streaming world, with the acquisition of Pandora from ticketing and event service Eventbrite in a deal worth $200 million.

The live sector also saw a strong year, with artists like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran reporting record-breaking tour grosses, often with lower volumes of tickets sold than previous tours.

Other major tours fielded this year included Fleetwood Mac, who controversially hit the road without their longtime guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, and The Eagles, who resumed touring with the late Glenn Frey’s son Deacon taking his place. As well the Rolling Stones announced that they will be rocking stadiums in North America early next year.

The live sector also saw major players such as Live Nation reporting strong growth in revenue from its concert business, as well as from its ancillary operations, including ticketing.

However, the ticketing business has also drawn scrutiny. In September, an undercover report by the Canadian Broadcasting Company and the Toronto Star revealed that Live Nation’s secondary market business appeared to be catering to ticket brokers. Reporters captured Live Nation sales reps on video assuring who they thought were brokers that they would be able to conduct business without interference from Live Nation, despite the company’s past public assurances to the contrary.

As well, the secondary market has drawn scrutiny internationally, with regulators in the UK taking aim at Viagogo for perceived abuses of consumers in the world of online ticketing. In other countries, such as Japan, ticket resale for a profit without consent from the promoter have been banned outright.

The music industry continued a period of consolidation in 2018, with independent companies such as Frank Productions, Emporium Presents, ScoreMore Shows, Dale Morris & Associates, Dainty Group, and Machine Management all being acquired by larger companies in the sector.

2018 also saw the passage of the Music Modernization Act, which was the first major reform of the nation’s copyright system in more than a decade. The legislation, widely heralded by the music industry, appears to have been a positive step forward in helping rightsholders to be fairly compensated for their work.

Data security came to the fore in 2018, with digital ticketing company Ticketfly suffering from a major data breach that left the company’s system down for days. While many promoters were left in the lurch during the outage for event ticketing, the company’s response to the crisis was widely lauded.

2018 also saw the settlement of the ‘Venue Wars’ which saw AEG engage in a legal battle with Ozzy Osbourne over coordinated booking policies that required artists to perform at favored venues in markets such as Los Angeles in order to gain access to venues in other markets, such as the O2 in London, or MSG in Manhattan.

This was also the year that MSG announced their ambitious plans for the MSG Globe, a pair of innovative new arenas in the works for London and Las Vegas.  In conceptual images that MSG’s James Dolan displayed during a presentation at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Globe indicated that the venue will literally be a giant sphere that can display a 360-degree image on its surface, providing for a truly immersive experience.

2018 also marked the dissolution of a joint venture between veteran entertainment manager Irving Azoff, and MSG. In October, Azoff announced that he intended to buy out MSG’s stake in the JV for $125 million, but said he would continue to advise his former business partners on the Forum and the MSG Sphere. Originally formed in 2013, the JV oversaw the refurb of the venerable Forum in Los Angeles, making the venue a significant rival for AEG’s Staples Center.

We almost made it through the year without another tragedy like the deadly terror attacks that targeted the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, and an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in 2017, which is, perhaps, a testament to an increasing focus on event security. However, last month came news of a deadly mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill, a popular night spot in Thousand Oaks that left 13 people dead and at least 10 others wounded.

We are also obliged to mark the passing of artists and industry figures in 2018 that includes Aretha Franklin, Otis Rush, Nancy Wilson, Mac Miller, Roy Clark, Charles Neville, Jahseh “XXXTentacion” Onfroy, Vic Damone, Dave Holland, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Joe Osborn, Pete Shelley, Eddie Reeves, Oli Herbert, Andy Goessling, Kyle Pavone, Dean Webb, Richard Swift, Alan Longmuir, Vinnie Paul, Danny Kirwan, Jimmy Gonzalez, Eddy Clearwater, Scott Hutchinson, Tim “Avicii” Bergling, Tim Matley, Cecil Taylor, Ronnie Prophet, Daryle Singletary, Pat Torpey, Dennis Edwards, Mark E. Smith, Dolores O’Riordan, Edward “Fast Eddie” Clarke, Denise LaSalle, and Ray Thomas.

Industry figures who passed in 2018 include Josh Roth, Jordan Feldstein, Nick John, Mitzi Shore, Chris Charucki, Paul Bloch, Richard Lustig, Roger Vorce, Mike Owens, Rocky Del Balzo, Ed Cohen, Jeremy Geffen, Bill Monot, Steve “Bogie” Bogdanovich, David Apps, Richard Cowley, Sarah Nulty, Joe Jackson, Billy Sammeth, Gina Zamparelli, Peter Stringfellow, John Gaydon, Irwin Pate, Hazel Smith, Paul White, Brian Murphy, Russ Soloman, Troy Blakely, and Dan Spellens.

This was the first full year for CelebrityAccess’s new content platform, and we’re proud to bring you the latest in industry news with the assistance of our expanded news team, which now includes Joe Reinartz and Juliette Jagger, and Tim Grable who joined longtime contributors, Larry LeBlanc, Bob Lefsetz, and Ian Courtney. We hope you’ve enjoyed the new look and services and invite your suggestions on how we can continue to improve.

As always, we thank you for your readership over the year and hope that we can continue to be your best source of industry news for 2019. We wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season, and a prosperous new year.


Marc Gentilella

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