2017: The Year That Was
And just like that, 2017 comes to a close. A year marked by tumult and loss, it’s been another solidifying reminder of music’s power to connect and heal.
As with any Oscars annual tribute montage, reflection on the losses can be jolting. We saw the departure of greats in the music world this year: Tom Petty, Fats Domino, Chris Cornell, David Cassidy, Greg Allman, Butch Trucks, Walter Beck, Glen Campbell…too touch on just a few. Artist turned record exec Tommy Page was just 46 when he was taken from us this year. Having recorded a number hit with “I’ll Be Your Everything,” Page pursued an equally successful career behind the scenes. A&R Exec and VP of Promotion for Warner Bros., Page helped shape the careers of Green Day, Alanis Morrissette, Josh Groban, later joining Billboard as publisher. Billboard Entertainment Group President John Amato shared “We are all mourning the loss of our friend and colleague Tommy Page. He was a magnetic soul and a true entertainer.”
We continue to absorb and process the tremendous losses of The Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, our view of outdoor concerts now inevitably tied to the tragedy. Jason Aldean performed recently in Nashville at the Country Rising Benefit Concert, which raised more than $4 million for victims of the shooting and those affected by recent hurricanes.
“It’s been a rough couple months for us up here, and it’s a lot of fun to get back out and play for the people who matter which is you guys,” Aldean shared from the stage. “I love getting up every day and playing music, and I’ll be damned if anybody out there will ever stop me from doing that.”
Aldean later opened up on Today. “I just hope that everybody can start to heal. Some of that stuff you can never get over, but I hope it gets better for everybody as time goes on.” Alongside 2017’s tapestry of tragedy is a soundtrack of unmatched gems. Adele brought us “Hello.” David Bowie gifted us a farewell Black Star. Randy Newman, meanwhile, returned after 9 years with Dark Matter. Continuing with the theme, Danzig returned after five years with Black Laden Crown. Living Colour also re-emerged following an extensive hiatus. And 2017 saw U2 return with Songs of Experience, which is heading for a number one.
After a five-year break, Pink returned with her 7th album, Beautiful Trauma, topping the charts immediately, and in doing so enjoying the biggest opening for a female artist since Beyoncé gave us Lemonade last year. To the delight of romantics and wedding DJ’s everywhere, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill released their first collaborative album, The Rest of Our Life.
It was a year that, like any other, saw reconciliations, reformations, and disbandings. A Tribe Called Quest reformed and toured, following the death of Phife Dawg last year. Similarly bittersweet, Audioslave and the Eagles also reconnected.
Others chose 2017 to hit pause for a bit: One Direction, fun., Twenty One Pilots, Slipknot, Dave Matthews Band.
The big sellers this year are of course dominated by known giants. Taylor Swift takes the prize with Reputation being the top seller, unseating Ed Sheeran’s Divide. They join fellow behemoths Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, and Drake.
As for the business itself, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) recently released the 2017 Music Consumer Insight Report, brimming with encouraging tidbits, not least of which the notion that 87% of all internet users consume music via traditional radio concurrently. Cheers to that and to 2018.