From “Aigel” to Taylor Swift. What happened to the music industry in a year

At the request of RBC-Life, music critic Nikolai Ovchinnikov (Voice telegram channel) chose 12 main events and phenomena in the music industry over the past 12 months.

The song “Pyala”, recorded in 2021, was included in the soundtrack to Zhora Kryzhovnikov’s series “The Boy’s Word”, was performed there a bunch of times – and in the end, the audience liked it so much that it entered the charts around the world and topped the global Shazam rating. The Aigel group enters the Billboard chart and is in first place in streaming in Russia and the countries of the former USSR. It is surprising not only that this is a track by Russian musicians, but also that it is a song in the Tatar language. 2023 has once again proven that there are no obstacles for music from any geography and with any text.

They returned to the Russian music industry after the crisis year of 2022. In the fall, Dmitry Konnov from Zvonko Digital, in an interview with Forbes, predicted industry growth of 5-10%. VK exclusives became a symbol of new money, and with them new industrial players appeared. For example, the company is increasingly joining the race for listeners MTS. Tried to launch my own music service “Gazprom” Develops “Yandex. Music”, which relied on “Wave” and recommendations based on user preferences.

Artificial intelligence has reached the music industry. With it you can now make a song with anyone’s voice. There is already, for example, Egor Letov, the “singing” hit “Do you know” Maxim. Sometimes such creativity goes beyond just humor. For example, at the beginning of 2023, an alleged track by Drake and The Weeknd appeared on streaming; it was removed, but was almost nominated for a Grammy. And in the summer the disc “Gorgorod Forever” appeared. It features a voice indistinguishable from Oksimiron’s real vocals (Miron Fedorov, recognized Ministry of Justice foreign agent – approx. RBC Life) continues the story of Mark from the real Gorgorod. The Afisha Daily publication found out that the project was led by a district deputy from St. Petersburg, who was interested in exploring the possibilities of AI.

In the absence of foreign imports, cover bands performing the repertoire of foreign performers have become very popular in Russia. According to Forbes, demand for tribute shows has more than tripled over the past four years. “Yandex. Afisha says that in the first five months of 2023, such performances increased by 95%. However, this practice is not only Russian: in the United States, 1.7 million tickets to tribute shows are sold every year. People indulge their nostalgia for the music of the past – especially when it comes to musicians who will not make it anywhere due to natural reasons, like the original lineup of Queen or The Beatles.

The daughter of Senator Elena Mizulina, Ekaterina, heads the “Safe Internet League” and has built her public image on, among other things, the fight against musicians. She demanded that Instasamka be banned for promoting debauchery, and Pasha Tekhnik for promoting drugs. Many musicians were forced to apologize to her – and even go to joint photo shoots. Her claims can result in detentions of several days – as in the case of Loqimean – or even several criminal cases – as in the case of Charlotte. Mizulina is one of the main heroines of the Russian pop industry in 2023, without a single album or song. But the interaction between the state and musicians does not end with her activities. Some performers have to apologize to the police, others are recognized as foreign agents, and still others have their concerts cancelled.

Continues to rule the music industry. One of the main TV series hits of 2023 in Russia is the biopic of Mikhail Gorshenev from The King and the Jester. The group’s already popular songs remained on the charts for a long time, especially on Yandex. Music” (the series was shown on Kinopoisk, which also belongs to Yandex). And series about “Gaza Strip”, “Hands Up!” are already being prepared. and “Combination”. The latter’s song “Don’t Forget” is now actively performing on the charts thanks to “The Boy’s Word” (see Aigel). Another chart success was the cover band “My Michelle” of “Winter in the Heart” by “Guests from the Future”. Abroad, people “stand” in queues at Ticketmaster not only for Taylor Swift concerts, but also for shows by reunited pop-punk heroes Blink-182 or the eternally relevant Depeche Mode. U2 are re-recording their old songs and energizing them with a series of visually intense shows at the MGS Sphere in Las Vegas.

“Person of the Year” according to Time magazine, beating Vladimir Putin in this category. Creator of dozens of hits for centuries ranging from folk to r’n’b. And one of the highest-grossing artists in the world, who was able to monetize literally everything she touched. She recorded new albums and re-recorded old ones – eventually earning more than $100 million from Spotify alone. She organized a world tour, for which tickets sold out almost immediately, and the Ticketmaster website crashed from the influx of her fans. The result is $1 billion in revenue. But the tour was not enough for her – she began showing the film with a concert. Taylor Swift is the face of pop culture and music as an industry. And perhaps it will retain this status next year.

The messenger has finally turned into a new base for both musicians and those who steal from them. The latter leaked the hits of Bushido Zho and Anikv, Pharaoh and Kai Angel to Telegram. This often happens due to the vulnerabilities of streaming or the sluggishness of people involved in releases. At the same time, the musicians themselves also understand the power of telegram as a media. Some, like new rap star Baby Melo, use video circles for creativity and communication. Others – like Morgenstern (Alisher Morgenstern is recognized by the Ministry of Justice as a foreign agent – approx. RBC Life) and Kuok – sometimes dump material past streaming into their channels. Almost all of the more or less decent music press in Russian, as well as track blogs from VK, have moved to Telegram: from “A Quiet Place” to “Russian Shuffle”. Finally, this is where Ekaterina Mizulina, the main nemesis of Russian-language music, lives.

VK’s new (or rather, already old) weapon in the fight for the audience. In the new music market after the departure of Spotify and (partial) Apple Music the rules have changed. Streaming companies can now also be labels (this practice is not common abroad) and pay for music. The main scourge of 2023 is VK exclusives. Performers – from major pop stars like Khleb or Eldzhey to smaller heroes – posted their songs or albums on VK Music a couple of weeks before the release on other platforms. At the same time, VK was ready to shower musicians with money: even indie artists received 500 thousand rubles. for exclusive. After the specialized press paid close attention to the topic, the exclusives slowly faded away.

A Spotify alternative that may be dying soon. Bandcamp has long been a haven for indie musicians: the service paid good royalties, allowed the sale of tracks, organized interest-free days (the so-called Bandcamp Fridays), allowed the sale of merch, and created its own media about unobvious heroes of alternative culture. Last year, for some reason, it was bought by Epic Games. The creators of Fortnite and the game store are people as far removed from indie music as possible. And in September, the service was resold again – to the B2B company Songtradr, which is involved in licensing and selling music. Soon the new owners fired half the staff, including key employees. It is still unclear what is happening and whether Bandcamp will close.

The world’s leading music streaming service. Provider of huge income to top musicians, paying pennies to indie artists. But they may not even see these pennies. From 2024, the company will stop paying for tracks that have been listened to less than 1,000 times. Demonetization of unpopular songs seems to be logical: an artist receives about $3 for 1,000 streams, but this money still does not reach him – it is dissolved in commissions and deductions to labels and distributors. And now as much as $40 million will be freed up, which will be given to other artists. The problem is that Spotify has always paid little – less than other services. And I don’t like his behavior simply because he personifies the new musical capitalism: everyone seems to get money, but the majority get almost nothing. But piracy has been defeated, and the labels are happy.

A ticket sales service and the main evil of the global music industry. Worse than Spotify. Known for its countless commissions and markups, as well as its absolutely clumsy technical base. Because of this, ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s world tour turned out to be a big failure: the site simply could not handle the influx of visitors. The service is owned by Live Nation, which organizes tours for major artists from Madonna to Depeche Mode. It became the subject of antitrust proceedings this year as fans and musicians grew weary of the company’s dominant market position. Ticketmaster also sells terribly expensive tickets – Live Nation, however, stipulates that the prices are set by the artists. As a result, Beyonce’s American fans find it easier to fly to the singer’s concert in Sweden. Bruce Springsteen tickets cost up to $1,000 apiece. By the way, the singer suggested to dissatisfied fans not to buy or return tickets. Tickets on the secondary market have also become more expensive—on resale, you can pay $1,056 for a Coldplay concert. For comparison, when they left for the last world tour, even before the covid pandemic, resale tickets were five times cheaper.

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