While many other industry publications are using the opportunity of the year’s end to conduct reviews of the decade, we here at CelebrityAccess feel a pedantic obligation to point out that the new decade does not start until 2021.
Looking back over the year, it is clear that 2019 was a period of consolidation for the entertainment industry with major players like Live Nation, AEG, and CTS Eventim acquiring smaller companies in droves.
Deals included AEG Facilities’ merger with SMG Worldwide to form the venue management giant ASM Global, and Live Nation’s acquisition of Canadian entertainment company evenko, as well as numerous regional promoters.
There were acquisitions and mergers in the world of content and distribution as well, including Disney’s mammoth $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, and CBS’s merger with Viacom to create an entertainment conglomerate worth an estimated $28bn.
2019 also saw its share of major failures, including the collapse of the music crowdfunding website Pledgemusic, which went into administration while owing millions to musicians and leaving their campaign promises to fans unfulfilled.
This was also the year that we watched the slow, inevitable death of Michael Lang’s 50th-anniversary revival of Woodstock, which collapsed amid legal disputes with its financial backers and a desperate bid to find an appropriate venue for the event.
The recorded music industry continued its successful run in the era of streaming, with major labels seeming awash in money and music publishing moving to the fore. There were major shakeups at the two leading publishers when Jon Platt left his post at Warner/Chappell to replace Martin Bandier at the top of publishing giant Sony/ATV.
2019 also saw a long-simmering dispute between Taylor Swift and her longtime label home at Big Machine Records, with Swift dropping the label and her management, and threatening to re-record her older material to throw a show into the cogs for Braun, whose Ithaca Holdings acquired the rights to Swift’s catalog from Big Machine earlier this year.
2019 was also the year we finally had that big country rap crossover hit by a gay black artist dressed like a cowboy that everyone has been waiting for when Lil Nas X dominated the charts with “Old Town Road.”
The track, which first broke on the social media service Tik Tok in late 2018, was re-released by Columbia Records in March and stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-breaking nineteen weeks. It also topped singles charts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom and landed in the top ten in nine additional nations.
Other artists who had a breakout year in 2019 include Billie Eilish, who vied with Lil Nas X for streaming dominance with the success of her debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” Camila Cabello, who scored monster hits in 2019 that included her duet “Senorita” with Shawn Mendes, and Lizzo, who landed her first #1 hit with “Truth Hurts.”
The live side of the industry continued to prosper as well in 2019, with artists such as Ed Sheeran, Pink and K-pop breakout BTS generating eye-popping box office revenue with global tours.
In 2019, Live Nation and other ticketing companies faced increasing scrutiny over ticketing practices, particularly in the secondary market. While Live Nation appears to have reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and extended its consent decree, the underlying factors driving public discontent, including ticket prices and availability, are likely to remain a flashpoint for debate.
2019 also saw the passing of numerous artists and industry figures, including Jack Scott, Juice WRLD, Marie Fredriksson, Robert, F.X. Sillerman, Paul Barrere, Ed Cherney, Gerry McGee, George “Pops” Chambers, Marcello Giordani, Kim Shattuck, Jim Huff, Ian Magan, Jack Gilardi, Chuck Dauphin, John Cohen, Eddie Money, Al Embry, Keith Case, Neal Casal, Larry “The Mole” Taylor, Ian Gibbons, Art Neville, Johnny Clegg, Gary LeMel, Lauren Valencia, Jerry Lawson, Jack Renner, Denise Nickerson, James Henke, João Gilberto, Tony Hall, Gary Duncan, Jeff Austin, Elliot Roberts, Philippe Zdar, Jim Pike, Richard “Bushwick Bill” Shaw, Dr. John, Lawrence Leathers, Leon Redbone, Allan Roth, Jake Black, Deane Cameron, Leon Rausch, Tim Conway, Malcolm Black, Doris Day, Mark French, Boon Gould, Russ Gibb, Phil McCormack, Joe Terry, Les Reed, Gary Stewart, Earl Thomas Conley, Ian Incognito, Bill Isles, Mickey Leonard, Gerry Stickells, Jim Rissmiller, Jenny Pagliaro, Billy Adams, Shelley Lazar, Gary Propper, Chuck La Vallee, Bernie Torme, Dick Dale, Eddie Lambert, Hal Blaine, Sid Sheinberg, Sara Romweber, Keith Flint, Ed Bickert, Andy Anderson, Mark Hollis, Mac Wiseman, Jackie Shane, Lewis Kahn, Peter Tork, Lynn Horne, Roy Imber, George Klein, Chris Harris, Larry Cunningham, Bonnie Guitar, Carol Channing, Lorna Doom, Reggie Young, Maxine Brown Russell, Don Grierson, Oliver Mtukudzi, James Ingram, Harold Bradley, and Sanford Sylvan.