No Glee for Music Business in 2010

The biggest news of the year is the cover version, and 2010 found new old ways to pump old songs, and the tv series Glee lead the way with several #1s.  For this reason, I’m adding a list of the best themed cover albums as well as a plain best of 2010.

At the end of 2009, John Kennedy of the IFPI issued a report that stated that despite the “360” nature of the business, everything starts with a record company talent scout. Digital sales leveled in 2010 for the first time, and with new players getting into distribution (Google) and others significantly upgrading their services (iTunes’ Ping! and iTunes LP), let’s hope for improvement in 2011.

I have to thank the New York Public Library for keeping me up to date on new music, and recommend you hit your local branch too.  A library is a public resource, like insurance, that we all pay into, and draw from at various times.  As a music business professional intent on staying that way, NYPL.org is an essential resource.

John Rosenfelder’s Best Music of 2010

Gorillaz “Plastic Beach” – Another clever amalgam of vibes and people. They make it look/sound easy. Easy listening!
Robyn “Bodytalk Pt. 1 & 2” – Self-contained, distinctive. A month later and I’m a cd behind.
Sara McLachlan “Law of Illusion” – Somebody broke her heart, badly.
Sheryl Crow “100 Miles from Memphis” – Surprisingly good and soulful, especially when she reprises her role with Michael Jackson on “I Want You Back.”
The Chemical Brothers “Further” – Time to start a “Classic Techno” genre. Are they techno? Titular ambiguity hurt their movement.
Teenage Fanclub “Shadows” – Talk about making it look/sound easy. The Fannies still have it in spades.

Peter Gabriel “Scratch My Back” – A master singer/performer, in case you forgot. Radio City was the costliest show I have ever seen ($260) but worth it.
Willie Nelson “Country Music” – Particularly blazing the night of the Manhattan Center broadcast on Sirius/XM, the studio version also contains some great picking.
Janelle Monae “The Archanoid” – Too deep to sum up in one line but a great voice and totally groundbreaking music and image.
Elton John and Leon Russell “The Union”
B.o.B “B.o.B Presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray”

Honorable Mentions:

Charred Walls of the Damned
Emm Gryner and Joe Elliot “Stray Bullets” (single)
Vampire Weekend “Contra”
The Orb featuring David Gilmour “Metallic Spheres”
Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes “National Ransom”
Neil Young “Le Noise”
Rihanna “Redemption Song” for Haiti
Yeasayer “Odd Blood”
Lil Jon “Crunk Rock”
Black Dub “Black Dub”

Biggest Trend: Themed Cover Albums
Peter Gabriel – Symphonic plus younger bands. (add link)
Suzanne Vega Vol. 1 & 2 – Re-record your catalog, eliminate middle men.
Glee Sdtks – Multi-platform
Marc Cohn sings 1971 – Gold
Willie’s Country Music – Bluegrass
Sheryl Crow – Memphis
Johnny Cash “American VI” – Posthumous content for a posthumous release.

Honorable Mention: Deluxe deluxe packages like “The Promise” and “Exile on Main Street” with new material.

Great Books about Music:
Life by Keith Richards
Keep on Runnin’: The Island Records Story by Chris Salewicz and Suzette Newman
Record Store Days by Phil Gallo and Gary Calamar (add link)
Soul Mining by Daniel Lanois

It’s challenging to listen to new music when you have so many great old records, but these artists make me glad I was on the move aesthetically in 2010. There’s still some gold in there though.

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