Yes, 2016 has been a pretty sucky year all round, hence the evolving number of 2016 hate videos making the rounds. We do not disagree and certainly don’t want to minimise the gravity of what has happened. For the music industry in particular there is no avoiding the depth of emotions felt from the loss of legends like Prince and Bowie. Not to mention the recent demise of Team Rock, leaving the future of music publications like Metal Hammer in question.
However, in the holiday spirit we have found five positive things that musicians and music lovers can take from this year. While some may say we are clutching at straws, we hope that this will help some enter 2017 with a little positive reflection, hope and determination.
1. New regulation to reduce noise abatement notices
Countless live music venues have been unfairly shut down from noise abatement notices throughout the country this year and, according to Noisey, London in particular has lost 35% of its grassroots music Venues since 2007. There is still a long way to go, but music venues are now protected by new legislation which requires property developers to acknowledge the impact of existing business’s noise on new residents in the area. The hope is that this will help new residents and venues coexist under a mutual understanding in the name of protecting live music and culture.
This has been considered a ‘major victory for UK music venues’ by Mark Davyd of Music Venue Trust. It is certainly something to be celebrated, if you are to take a few positive things from 2016, the increased protection of music venues is definitely one of them!
2. Increase of digital collaboration opportunties
This year has seen a continued uprise of digital platforms that help musicians to promote their music and collaborate online. This includes digital production company hitRECord founded by 3rd Rock from the Sun actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The list of collaborations on HitRecord are endless – for example there is also a new challenge to create a recipe with just three given ingredients, you just have to film yourself cooking your creation. Along with collaborative jam sessions for musicians and vocalists like in the current “Play Along” project, prospective film-makers, graphic designers, writers and many more are challenged to make their mark on the innovative website.
In addition, Univision’s Music Division launched a talent incubator called U-LAB. A creative talent development partnership between Uforia Music, Univision’s music platform, and Casa Limon. The initiative enables emerging musicians to develop and showcase their music, with input and direction from a host of experts that includes superstar Alejandro Sanz and Latin Grammy winner Jorge Drexler.
“This initiative was created to foster young talent, support social good and innovation – something much needed in Miami and in the music industry overall in order to revamp,” said Sanz in a statement.
3. New music tech & gadgets to play with
What muso doesn’t love a new gadget? Whether it was on your Christmas wish list this year or on your radar in 2017, there was plenty of new tech released this year, including:
- h.ear headphones with high-resolution audio
- The NW-A20 Series Walkman with noise-cancelling headphones
- The HT-NT3 Sound Bar with discreet high-quality surround sound
- Fender Offset-series Duo Sonic – a new lease of life for a semi-forgotten model and a great alternative to the more expensive Mustangs
- New Serato DJ controller DDJ-SZ2, a next generation four-channel controller
4. Vinyl sales surpassed digital sales this year
Some surprising news in 2016 was that vinyl sales have now overtaken digital sales. According to The Guardian, record sales have hit £2.5 million sales in the first week of December compared with £2.1 million digital music sales. What’s more, the surge in vinyl sales appear to have encouraged album art to flourish once again.
This uplift in vinyl sales proves that music lovers are craving the tangibility of a record, rather than a digital download and artists are spending more time and effort on the presentation of a release. Songwriter from Percival Elliott, Samuel Carter-Brazier, commented:
“An increase in vinyl sales demonstrates that music fans care more about the quality of, not only the music they listen to, but also about the product itself.”
This retrospective take on music ownership can only prove to be a positive thing especially for artists in a digital age, where music lacks physicality.
5. Digital crowdfunding could save Team Rock
While an increased reliance on digital has led to the demise of many print magazines in recent years, the ability to crowdfund has also helped many musicians and organisations to get support, including the Just Giving campaign for Team Rock. A campaign that has now raised over 20k for those left unemployed for Christmas. Laila from Sonic Boom Six said:
“Kickstarter and Pledge enable bands to use their fanbase to push their music and make things happen. What’s happening at Team Rock is a prime example. The Just giving page is going to help the 60 odd people who have lost their jobs just before Christmas.”
The rise of digital, although somewhat zombifying at times, has paved the way for an online community to grow enabling users to connect on a digital level. The closure of London nightclub Fabric, earlier this year is another example of the vibrant community surrounding music and culture coming together online; a whopping £333, 588 was raised in a bid to save the popular venue. This was about more than just the closure of a nightclub, but about the unity of people coming together to save something they loved. Fans and readers supporting Team Rock in a similar feat is a demonstration of the positive side of emerging online technology showcasing the depth of music culture and community thanks to online platforms.
A glimmer of hope as we prepare for 2017
So there you have it; small venues and vinyl are on the up (after a long and drawn out slump), new tech is emerging, and an exponential growth in digital promotion means we can all rest a little easier as 2016 draws to a close.
You might call it ‘polishing a turd’ but these positive things to take from a particularly shitty 2016 will hopefully send us into the new year with a little less negativity and a little more enthusiasm for 2017’s musical and creative endeavours!
If you can think of more positive things musicians and music lovers can take from 2016, pop us a tweet @altmumagazine #2016goodbits.
Now unclench, 2016 is nearly over.
Feature by Bex Cole & Jennifer Le Roux