Top music moments of 2011
Music industry expert Eric Alper
Published Tuesday, January 3, 2012 2:58PM EST
The music biz is in the middle of a very long and painful transition from one business model to a new and undefined one. But it does feel like the music biz turned a corner in 2011.
Despite some hard bumps the music business has taken during the past decade -- bumps that the film, book and video-game worlds are just beginning to experience -- the industry is more present, ubiquitous and more available than ever before. Nothing breeds innovation like disruption, and we're seeing plenty of both.
For the first time since 2004, overall album sales were up, to the tune of 4 per cent. Of that, digital album purchases increased by nearly 20 per cent and track sales by 9 percent. CD sales were down 5 per cent, but it was a far less toxic number than the double-digit declines of the past decade.
Top music stories of 2011
Google, Spotify, Facebook:
This trio underscored the digital surge in 2011-- and the immediate gratification of paying to download a track. Yet people still embraced albums. HMV Canada is now hopeful that a new online streaming subscription service will take off in Canada, joining Rdio, Slacker Radio, Rara and Deezer.
Five women who rocked the world:
Rihanna, Adele, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry helped dig the music business out of its seven-year sales slump. Adele was the sindustry's hining star of in 2011. She sold five million copies of her Grammy-nominated sophomore effort, and 21 to 33 percent of them were digital. The album has sold in excess of 100,000 for more than 30 weeks, the first time that has happened since 2006. From undergoing throat surgery to cleaning up in Grammy nominations, Adele provided story after story for the music world. "Rolling In The Deep" also sold more digital copies than any song in history, landing Adele on just about everyone's "best of 2011′ lists.
Swift moved 3.8 million copies of her third album.
Perry saw five singles from her second full-length album top the charts, tying Michael Jackson for the record and totalling 15 million downloads.
Rihanna also released two hit albums to bookend the year, racking up sales of 1.9 million.
In terms of pop, 2011 was clearly the year of the female singer.
Adele, Lady Gaga, Perry, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears pulled off radio hits and sold 52.5 million downloads combined. They also toured their vocal cords raw, spent millions on videos and performed at every awards show imaginable.
Arcade Fire's Grammy:
Arcade Fire rocked the music world when their album "The Suburbs" won the Grammy for Album Of The Year. While many critics thought the accolade was a well-earned choice, the pop-music community retaliated in disbelief and outrage. The win, however, paved the way for other cult musicians and lesser known artists to enter the mainstream arena.
Canadians ruled the world:
For the first time, four of the Top Five albums on the Billboard pop charts were by Canadians at the start of Dec., 2011. Michael Bublé had the second biggest selling album of the year with "Christmas," joined by Drake, Justin Bieber and Nickelback. The Weekend scored massive play, with more than 500,000 free downloads for this record (hyped by Drake). Deadmau5 broke attendance records in NYC's Roseland Ballroom, which they followed up by throwing a stadium rave filled with 20,000 people at Toronto's Rogers Center. The Sheepdogs, the Saskatoon retro-rockers, also became the first unsigned band to grace the cover of the Rolling Stone. The Sheepdogs became the second Canadian band in history to score that honour.
In short, it's been quite the end to a year that began with the Grammys handing its first-ever Best Album award to a Canadian band, Arcade Fire.
Steve Jobs, Amy Winehouse die:
Amy Winehouse has been greatly missed by her fans since she passed away on July 23, 2011 at the age of 27. The release of her posthumous album, "Lioness: Hidden Treasures," allowed the world to glimpse into the raw, unfinished works of the troubled singer.
Steve Jobs also passed away and received a Trustee Award from the music industry. The honour was bestowed upon a man that every label hated. Jobs held the music industry in a stranglehold for years. But death changes the world's perspective on people.
Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray is jailed:
Conrad Murray became known around the world after Michael Jackson's untimely death on June 25, 2009. Murray attended Jackson at the time of his death. In November, Murray was jailed for four years for involuntary manslaughter. The judge who delivered the sentence told Murray that he had "abandoned his patient, who was trusting him." Fifty-year-old Jackson died on the eve of his much anticipated comeback shows, which were due to take place over 50 nights at London's O2 Arena.
Breakups and reunions:
The White Stripes, LCD Soundsystem, R.E.M. and (hiatus) Black Eyed Peas all called it a day in 2011. Stone Roses, Black Sabbath and Van Halen with original lead singer David Lee Roth reformed. Prince also performed a cross-Canada tour which sold out.
Record labels and fans celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Nirvana's "Nevermind," Pearl Jam's "10," U2's "Achtung Baby" and The Beach Boys' "Smile" box set.
It seemed like all anyone was talking about in 2011 was Beyonce's pregnancy, from the initial reveal during her VMAs performance of "Love On Top," (which broke the Tweets per second record) to the controversy surrounding the realness of her baby bump. Now the world waits for the chosen one to emerge from the most revered womb on earth.
It's Friday, Friday:
Rebecca Black's "Friday" was the runaway sensation of 2011. The strangely hypnotic tune and low-budget video made for the most talked about song of the year, though many ridiculed Black's efforts. Still, with 180 million YouTube views, Black's "Friday" was the Internet hit of the year.
The Black Keys, Coldplay won't share:
The Black Keys not only found mainstream fame and appreciation in 2011, they also refused to share their new album, "El Camino." The Black Keys announced that they wouldn't be offering "El Camino" on music file sharing devices like Spotify, claiming that it wasn't feasible at this point in the band's career to do so since the band makes its living selling music. Fans spoke out from both sides, marking The Black Keys as the second major act behind Coldplay to shun streaming services.
Bon Iver, Skillrex get Grammy Nods:
"Alternative" cult artists Bon Iver and Skillrex scored nominations for 2012′s Grammy Awards for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist. Controversy surrounded the nominations, as Bon Iver front man Justin Vernon slammed the Grammys by calling them "unimportant."
Skrillex scored a whopping five Grammy nominations and became the first DJ to land a Best New Artist nod. The former Sonny Moore's musical background -- both on his own and as a member of his former group, From First to Last -- carried over into Skrillex's brand of fiery electronica.