10 Best Albums of 2015

Ahh, 2015. What a time to be alive. It was a record-breaking year for larger-than-life stars like Adele, whose album 25 sold 4.49 million copies in just two weeks, and Justin Bieber, who shattered Billboard records with his Purpose. Neither of those albums made my list of 2015 favorites (Sorry) (no pun intended), but I thought they deserved a quick shoutout for achieving total world domination.

Below are my 10 favorite albums of the year–listed in alphabetical order because ranking artists is hard. *sigh*

Alabama Shakes Sound and Color

alabama-shakes-sound-and-color
Image via Consequence of Sound

Drake If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

1035x1035-drake
Image via Rolling Stone

Father John Misty I Love You, Honeybear

fjm-iloveyouhoneybear
Image via Wikipedia

Jamie xx In Colour

8f09545c
Image via Pitchfork

Kendrick LamarTo Pimp A Butterfly

3813bcd3d4accb7634eea23a2a7ab190-1000x1000x1
Image via Genius

Kurt Vile b’lieve i’m goin down…

packshot
Image via Matador Records

Leon BridgesComing Home

920x920
Image via SF Gate

Sufjan Stevens Carrie & Lowell

sufjan_stevens_-_carrie_26_lowell
Image via Wikipedia

Tame Impala Currents

04192b63
Image via Pitchfork

Vince Staples Summertime ’06

33a9265391b2dcfc1f37a725f309746c-1000x1000x1
Image via Genius

Honorable mentions:

Grimes Art Angels

grimes-artangels1
Image via Stereogum

Various Artists Hamilton: Original Broadway Soundtrack

hamilton---digital-album-cover---final
Image via Vibe

(I’m not exactly a Broadway musical junkie, but anyone who can successfully write smart, catchy hip-hop songs about Alexander Hamilton deserves mad respect. I adored listening to this podcast featuring the mastermind behind Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

Listen to my Spotify playlist including all of my top albums of the year:

spotify:user:1217985074:playlist:7bnm3lZaWuUAQ3otTZ37eV

Fingers crossed 2016 will be filled with glorious new music from Yeezy, Radiohead, and Frank freaking Ocean (still bitter). Stay tuned.

Advertisements

What Will The Music Industry Look Like in 15 Years?

Spin-Future-of-Music-Landing
Image via SPIN

SPIN recently asked representatives from Bose, Record Store Day, Mood Media, Third Man Records, and Spotify about their predictions for shifts in the music industry within the next fifteen years.

A common theme among the responses was a continued emphasis on consumer-focused content. Shiva Rajaraman, VP Product at Spotify, said the streaming service is “focused on getting a deeper understanding of users’ taste.”

“Now we’re starting to recommend and craft content against those tastes,” he said.

In the next ten years, Spotify hopes to continue forming partnerships in addition to its current brand relationships with Uber and PlayStation to enrich other domains with music.

Image via Third Man Records

Ben Swank of Third Man Records predicted that physical copies of music aren’t going anywhere. Swank feels optimistic “that certain people are always going to gravitate towards the more romantic, visually and audibly appealing product, be it LPs or books or anything really.”

From the birth of streaming services to the revival of vinyl, the music industry is rapidly evolving. It will be really interesting to see the variety of new partnerships, products, and innovations to come in the next fifteen years.

Meow The Jewels: From Kickstarter Project to Reality

mtj
Image via Kickstarter

Breakthrough hip hop duo Run the Jewels (aka El-P and Killer Mike) released their highly anticipated remix album Meow the Jewels this weekend thanks to 2,828 backers on the popular funding platform Kickstarter.

Launched by fans in September 2014, the campaign pledged to raise $40,000 for Run the Jewels to create an album “with all cat sounds for the music.” The Kickstarter quickly surpassed its goal and received a whopping $65,783.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 4.20.22 PM
RTJ fans take hip hop very seriously. (Image via Kickstarter)

Some of the absurdly silly track names include “Lie, Cheat, Meow” and “Paw Due Respect”.

“A lot of people are saying it might even go catinum,” El-P joked on Saturday.

Meow the Jewels is now available for free download, and the rap duo announced that all proceeds from vinyl sales will go to charity.

The album is a testament to the power of an online community dedicated to bringing inspired projects to life. Since Kickstarter launched in 2009, 9.5 million users have backed a project and almost $2 billion have been pledged online. Additional statistics about the startup can be found on its website.

Image via Consequence of Sound

The Results Are In: Music Is Important

discex

The global research firm Nielsen released its fourth annual Music 360 2015 report this week, which measured how U.S. consumers interact with music. Highlights include the latest statistics on music consumption, discovery, and streaming.

Breaking news: everyone listens to music

According to the study, a whopping 91% of Americans listen to music and devote an average of 24 hours per week to their jam sessions. Nielsen points out the continued shift toward digital listening–75% listen to music online in a typical week. A growing number of Americans (44%) are also turning to smartphones to get their weekly music fix, up 7% since this time last year.

Video didn’t kill the radio star

The number one source of music discovery in America is radio, with 61% of respondents reporting to find new music via AM/FM or satellite radio. Family and friends (45%) as well as movies and movie soundtracks (31%) were the next top outlets for music discovery.

movie soundtracks
Four excellent movie soundtracks (Images via Wikipedia)

Apple Music and Spotify and Tidal, oh my

Music streaming services like Spotify are increasingly gaining subscribers worldwide. Nielsen’s study breaks down the top three reasons Americans cited for choosing a particular streaming service:

  1. Cost (83%)
  2. Ease of use (82%)
  3. Song library (73%)

Price is clearly a huge issue for people who argue that music can be streamed online for free. According to the study, a mere 9% of people not currently subscribed to a streaming service reported they were likely to subscribe in the next six months.

I’m curious: do you have a favorite streaming service? Were you surprised by any of these findings? Comment below!

3 Key Findings From Eventbrite’s Music Festival Study

2014
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival 2014

Crowds. Four talented bands scheduled to play at the same time. Memories (and Instagram posts) to last a lifetime. Love them or hate them, festivals are increasingly impacting the way millennials (ages 17-34) experience live music today.

A recent study from Eventbrite and the social media analytics company Mashwork measured online fan conversations and demographics during the 2013-2014 music festival season. Let’s break it down.

Festivals are kind of a big deal

One in ten Americans attended a festival during the twelve month period of the study, which generated more than 20 million online music festival conversations. Millennials represented the highest portion of the conversation–nearly 75% of people ages 17-34 posted about music festivals on Twitter.

Phoenix performs at Music Midtown 2013. Count those iPhones.
Phoenix performs at Music Midtown 2013. Count those iPhones.

#Hashtag game strong

Over half of online conversations (54%) occurred before the actual festival took place, but only 19% included the official branded hashtags. From an analytics perspective, Eventbrite data highlights the importance of branded hashtags for social media coordinators to monitor the pre-event conversation.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 11.31.50 AM
Local Big Ears Festival uses the official hashtag #BigEarsKnox. (photo via Twitter)

Know thy brand

Two of the most buzz-worthy elements of a music festival online are the lineup and overall experience. The study shows that festival promoters must understand their festival’s brand to build excitement before, during, and after the event.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.31.36 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.32.08 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.34.15 PM

via Eventbrite

Read more about Eventbrite’s Industry Insights here.