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Mashable.com: How Snapchat will change the music industry in 2017

It started with a Twitter video, announcing: New music coming Friday. Then, an Instagram video—revealing a beat, and some lyrics. 

But when globally famous pop star Ed Sheeran wanted his fans to experience the first true listen of his new music, he turned to Snapchat. With an augmented reality lens, people could put on a pair of sunglasses, surround themselves in lights, and listen to the first 30 seconds of Sheeran's new track. 

Fans who uncovered the hidden surprise along with fellow artists like Shawn Mendes (who isn't a stranger to the power of social apps) helped hype the track before Sheeran released it later that night. 

Sheeran's use of Snapchat is just the most recent example of how the app—and its community—have emerged as powerful distribution tools for new music. Where other digital platforms are plagued by piracy issues, Snapchat has taken on the role of a DJ, with artists hoping to partner up, and get their song played within innovative, fun, engagement-heavy formats. 

For example, over the last two months, Snapchat users have been able to wear a different pair of shades, and bob their heads to a clip of rapper Sage the Gemini's song "Now and Later." 

But unlike other marketing rollouts, for both Sage the Gemini and Ed Sheeran, there wasn't even any mention of the artist on the Snapchat filter. But users eventually found their way to the name of the song.

And the artist himself had the opportunity to close the mystique gap, and re-promote himself as the one behind the track.

"This type of partnership had never been done before with an emerging artist," said Chelsea Gavin, director of marketing at Artist Partners (who works with Sage the Gemini). 

"Together we were able to enhance a lens sonically," explained Gavin, "maximizing user experience, which translated into a lot of curiosity around the artist." In other words: They knew they had a good song on their hands. They delivered it to Snapchat's users. And Snapchat's users then went looking for the song. The plan was simple. The results? Substantial.

From November to December, Sage the Gemini's "Now and Later" jumped from 1.1 million to 5 million monthly listeners on Spotify. 

Snapchat's been getting deeper into offering a wide variety of different types of media, including newspolitics and sports. In some cases, Snapchat is paying a licensing fee for the content. In others, there's an ad revenue split between publishers and Snapchat.

Entertainment and music are perhaps the most lucrative to (and in line with) the company projecting itself as a lifestyle brand as they convince influencers, publishers and advertisers to spend more time and money in the app. It's all the more important to the company's fate, as Snapchat prepares to go public later in 2017. 

While other digital networks like Facebook and YouTube combat the wrath of the music industry hoping to secure more rights, Snapchat has cemented a good reputation with the artists and label—for now. In order to keep its place of prominence, it's building more experiences that cater to the discovery and sharing of new music—a promotional machine for an industry that needs all the help it can get. 

An overdue duet

Snapchat's embrace of artists isn't that surprising, given Snap CEO Evan Spiegel's publicly evident passion for music. His tastes are available to peruse via his Hype Machine account, where you can see he's a fan of Goldroom, Chance The Rapper and The Chainsmokers. 

"Sometimes there can be challenges as a platform grows, but [at Snapchat], they're all passionate music fans, and have the interest of advancing the artist," said Chris Mortimer, head of digital marketing at Interscope Records. 

Regarding opportunities, Spiegel was once interested in buying a record label and partnering with video hosting site Vevo, as revealed in leaked emails by Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton from the 2014 hack.

Those deals haven't come to fruition, and perhaps that's for the better. Running a label "means taking 100 shots and hoping you hit a couple, and focusing in on that," said Scott "DJ Skee" Keeney, founder of Dash Radio. 

"Evan has a great idea around cutting through the noise and focusing on talented artists to promote on his platform. However, this isn’t what a record label does. This is what radio does," Keeney said. 

This isn't the first time Snapchat's shown interest in promoting music. They featured a Goldroom song in the promo video for Stories. It was a partnership that began via a "cold email" from the Snapchat team to Goldroom. 

Snapchat's latest promo for its new video-camera product Spectacles used "The Less I Know The Better," by indie rock darlings Tame Impala. 

Snapchat works with each partner to make sure any music used in a lens or in a promo video is properly licensed. Specific terms are confidential. 

"If [Sage the Gemini] got paid per use, he would be making so much money especially from my friend group."

But typically Snapchat pays artists to license songs. For now, that doesn't mean you should expect a bidding war for access like you do with a traditional ad buy, according to someone familiar with the program. 

"Snapchat is very supportive of artists, and I think they'd always rather support someone they believe in over the highest bidder," the person said.

For lenses, in particular, it's unclear if Snapchat pays per stream or for a one-time license fee. 

Sheeran's lens had the prime placement from Friday to Sunday. That's more than $500,000 worth of real estate per day, according to people familiar with Snapchat's ad pricing. 

These experiences are organized by Snapchat's music partnerships team, which is led by VP of Partnerships Ben Schwerin and Head of Music Partnerships Glenne Christiaansen.

As evidenced by the Ed Sheeran and Sage the Gemini rollouts, the company's beginning to build serious, productive and personal relationships with artists and record labels, offering them custom experiences within the app. They're also a new kind of effective, viral experiences other social networks have yet to come close to rolling out—at least for the time being, Snapchat is in a league of its own. 

Authenticity by design 

Snapchat's positive relationship with the music industry is also to the credit of the specific design and core functionality of Snapchat itself. The service has been able to cater to artists' needs, without being burdened by conflicts over the piracy issues that plague their contemporaries. 

Facebook and YouTube, where videos can last for an unlimited time and are saved permanently, both struggle with substantial piracy violators, and have devoted massive resources to fighting the uphill battle that is curbing these issues. Snapchat, on the other hand, has a core offering that consists of 10 seconds of video, which later disappear.

As the app expands from messaging to media, Snapchat's weaved music across its business. By showcasing concerts through the Live Stories tab, premiering songs and music videos, and connecting viewers directly to artists, Snapchat has melded the advantages of the old (radio and MTV-like visuals) with real-time conversation and cutting-edge tech like augmented reality.

"Using Snapchat to connect fans with a music experience is like editing a real-time documentary," Chris Williams, chief product officer for iHeartRadio, told Mashable. "Unlike the other social platforms where you curate posts, with Snapchat you are capturing and editing what you want to share on the fly, so there is an immediacy and authenticity to what we post."

Again, these projects have yielded the kind of demonstrable results that's made music industry insiders frothy to form a relationship with the app, the company behind it, and its user base. For Snapchat's Live Stories of the Video Music Awards, MTV generated 12 million unique viewers in 2015. 

For 2016's VMAs? 21 million unique viewers. 

Snapchat's also taken on a similar role to MTV by premiering and debuting music videos from Madonna, Goldroom and The Weeknd. While the company may be encroaching on the traditional fame of MTV by securing its own exclusives, MTV and other music-focused media companies have vied for and secured coveted positions on Snapchat's Discover network as well. 

"What’s great about Snapchat Discover is that you can tell a story around the music video premieres, and add context," said Bruce Gillmer, executive vice president of music and talent programming and events internationally for MTV. 

MTV's also producing original shows on the app—something Snapchat has prioritized for its partners going forward, and reportedly, one of the reasons Warner Music Group was removed from the platform. 

"We are second to none when it comes to giving fans access or exclusive interviews with iconic artists and emerging talent," Gillmer said, "making us truly stand out on this platform."

Both MTV and iHeartRadio have remained cheerleaders for Snapchat. 

"The future of music on Snapchat relies on great partnerships with recording artists who love the platform and trust iHeartRadio," said Ina Burke, vice president of original content for iHeartMedia’s Entertainment Enterprises.

Keep the artist happy 

Record labels and artists see mutual value in using Snapchat personally and professionally. Artists, just like any social media user, can be fickle to jump to the next platform, yet Snapchat's lifestyle culture and cool products are convincing them to stay. 

"It's one of the last places where it doesn't feel like you're curating a persona with every post," said electronic musician Josh Legg, aka Goldroom. "Snapchat is still my favorite platform for interacting directly with fans. They aren't burdened by character limits, and because it all feels more private, I think people get a better opportunity to see the real me."

DJs were some of Snapchat's earliest big creators. While Vine was a somewhat demanding and confusing network for creation and discovery, Snapchat offered them authenticity and simplicity.

"When I started to realize the demise, the Vine influencers weren’t the first to go. They obviously had a lot to invest. The ones that were first to go were the celebrities like Diplo and Skrillex," said one long-time former employee at Twitter, who used to work closely with Vine.

"Vine asked celebrities not to repurpose content from other platforms and only create original content, which just wasn't realistic," the insider continued. "Snapchat allowed them to create daily, lower production value content, which didn't live forever, and that just ended up being way more appealing," 

Searching for the next hit  

Snapchat has transformed into a new way to discover music. The latest integration with Shazam—where you can use Shazam at any point within Snapchat to identify the music playing around you—points to the potential for Snapchat to connect with other music apps like Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube and Vimeo. 

"Music is an inherently social activity, and Snapchat’s incredibly popular platform seemed like a perfect fit," said Shazam CEO Rich Riley. 

Shazam declined to disclose if Snapchat is now taking a cut of the referral fees Shazam generates from music download stores. Yet: Even if Snapchat is now pulling some of Shazam's profits, the partnership with Snapchat's more than 150 million daily active users surely helps generate enthusiasm around Shazam, which is 18 years old, and last year, reported it had more than 120 million monthly active users.

Legg said he hoped for more integrations with music platforms in the future. "Personally I love to play music in my snaps, and I think I get asked more about the songs than anything else. I'd love to have some sort of simple connectivity with Spotify," he said. 

Mortimer of Interscope Records said he predicts a strong future of Snapchat, based on its past successes: "Snapchat has helped move mainstream adoption of two technologies: QR codes and augmented reality. I think what's next is Spectacles, offering a perspective that nobody has except the artist themselves."  

Those artists are exactly who Snapchat must continue pleasing if the company wishes to thrive—via continued user engagement and via sustainable revenue offerings—and avoid the fate of Vine. 

"As artists continue to innovate on Snapchat, fans will continue to follow it," Mortimer said.

Il tour di Bruce Springsteen il più ricco del 2016

Il The River Tour è stato quello che ha fruttato maggiori incassi in tutto il mondo nel 2016. Bruce Springsteen ha incassato con 76 spettacoli 268.3 milioni di dollari, con 2.4 milioni di biglietti venduti.

Al secondo posto della classifica stilata da Pollstar c’è Beyoncé con The Formation, mentre al terzo si sono classificati i Coldplay con A Head Full of Dreams, fermo a 241 milioni di dollari.

California, troppi locali illegali aumentano il pericolo

È stata messa in discussione la sicurezza dei locali della scena musicale di Los Angeles dopo un incendio a Oakland nel quale sono morte 36 persone, a dicembre, durante un evento illegale, dove le licenze non erano in regola. Lo riporta il Los Angeles Times.

Le autorità, secondo il quotidiano, non cercano in modo abbastanza attivo le violazioni e aspettano soltanto che sia il pubblico a lamentarsi. Sono meno di 25 i casi di controlli negli ultimi tre anni.

Gli illeciti riguardano l’assenza di sistemi antincendio, la vendita di alcolici senza licenza e un atteggiamento libertino nei confronti del fumo. 

Fastcompany.com: 7 Ways streaming music will change in 2017

Last year was another eventful one in the history of music. And that was no surprise.

In 2016, the music industry saw its first signs of true growth since the internet started ravaging it a decade and a half ago. By mid-year, labels saw revenue grow 8.1% over the same period in 2015, fueled mostly by an explosion in subscribers flocking to services like Spotify (40 million subscribers) and Apple Music (20 million). Indeed, in early 2016, we learned that streaming had officially become the industry’s biggest source of income in 2015. While revenue from downloads and physical album sales both continued their years-long decline (by 14% and 17%, respectively), streaming revenue grew 57% during the first half of 2016, and since then, all signs have pointed to continued growth. This is good news for record execs, but what it means for artists and streaming platforms—which each have their own contractual relationships with labels—remains to be seen. As the pie grows, expect to see intensified battles over how it all gets divvied up.

 

There were also big changes within the streaming landscape itself. Amazonand SoundCloud launched Spotify competitors. Apple polished up its existing service with a new interface. Pandora also unveiled its premium subscription service, expected to launch in the first quarter of 2017. For those keeping count at home, that’s three new subscription services in one year, on top of the three that launched the year before (Tidal, Apple Music, and YouTube Red). Despite all the new competition, Spotify has held onto its dominant role, growing its listenership and flexing its playlisting muscle with more in-house curation and data-powered personalized playlists like Discover Weekly, Release Radar, and Your Daily Mix.

Despite all the upward-sloping numbers, the music industry still found reason to gripe. Its chief target this year was YouTube, which, along with Spotify’s free tier, creates what the RIAA calls a "value gap" for the industry. Simply put, ad-supported services just don’t make as much money as music subscriptions. Indeed, vinyl sales—a relatively tiny sliver of the industry’s income—generated more money than ad-supported streaming like YouTube, SoundCloud, and Spotify’s free tier.

There was tension elsewhere as well. Frank Ocean pulled a fast one on his label Def Jam by releasing his short visual album Endless on Apple Music to fulfill his contract before self-releasing the blockbuster Blond and denying Def Jam a cut of the profits. The maneuver made record executives rethink the already-controversial practice of releasing albums by major artists exclusively on one platform, which may help drive subscription numbers, but frustrates fans and encourages piracy. Up until that point, big-name exclusives practically defined the year in popular music: Kanye West, Drake, Beyoncé, and Chance the Rapper all put out albums initially available only via either Apple Music or Tidal. (Spotify refuses to play this game.) Meanwhile, the concept of the album itself became ever more fuzzy, thanks to visual albums (i.e., music released as a long-form video or film) from Ocean and Beyoncé, plus Kanye West’s post-release editing of Life of Pablo.

With so much change in the last few years, what could 2017 possibly hold? Plenty. Here are our predictions.

THE MUSIC SUBSCRIPTION BOOM WILL CONTINUE

The number of people willing to pay $10 a month for music skyrocketed in 2016, but it’s still pretty small. All told, about 100 million people are believed to subscribe to music services. (This doesn’t include free streaming from SoundCloud, YouTube, or Spotify’s free tier.) But considering that there are 319 million people in the United States alone, there’s plenty of room for growth. Just look at Apple Music. The service, which is available in 113 countries and comes pre-installed on every iOS device, only took a year and a half to reach half of Spotify’s size in terms of paying subscribers. And they both keep expanding. Now we have Amazon Music Unlimited, which is well positioned to reel in new subscribers at $8 per month for Prime members. When Pandora finally launches its subscription service, it will have 78 million listeners to potentially convert into paying subscribers—not to mention a newfound possibility of expansion beyond the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia (although those plans are still being hammered out).

 

Streaming music is also breaking free from the confines of our smartphones and laptops. Thanks to the rise of smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Sonos, and Google Home, more listening is happening at home, making the prospect of treating music like a monthly utility an even more sensible one. Cheaper family subscription plans don't hurt, either.

AT LEAST ONE MUSIC SERVICE WILL DISAPPEAR

We’ve seen five new music subscription services arrive in the last two years (and one more coming from Pandora early next year), but that doesn’t mean music streaming has become a lucrative successful business. Quite the opposite: None of these services has made an enduring profit, although Spotify is working aggressively toward that goal as it gets ready to go public next year. Big tech companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon can afford to run their music services at a loss indefinitely. This landscape makes it tricky for smaller players like Tidal, SoundCloud, Deezer, and Napster (formerly Rhapsody). Both Tidal and SoundCloud were the subject of acquisition rumorsin 2016, and rumors continue to swirl around the prospect of Pandora selling itself off. Bandcamp would make a very attractive acquisition for Pandora or Spotify, but the artist-centric music and merch marketplace is well positioned to stay independent if it prefers: The company has been profitable since 2012 and its cultural influence is only growing.

The bottom line: Expect to see fewer music services this time next year. At least one of these companies is bound to get acquired or go under altogether.

STREAMING EEXCLUSIVES WON’T DIE

Frank Ocean may have put a damper on the industry’s enthusiasm about platform-exclusive album releases, but don’t expect to see the trend die off just yet. Universal (owner of Def Jam) may have sworn them off, but the other major labels have remained silent on the issue. Besides, in an age when many artists have an unprecedented capacity to chart their own course, does it really matter what the labels think?

Apple and Tidal are apparently willing to shell out a ton of money for these exclusive deals. And as long as they remain an effective tool for driving subscriptions amid intensifying competition, the streaming platforms aren’t likely to stop offering them. Despite some controversy, the exclusivity approach seems to work for most artists: Drake was the most-streamed artist on Spotify this year, despite Views only being available on Apple Music when it debuted. Like Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Ocean’s Blond, Drake’s latest album was a massive success overall.

That said, we should expect to see fewer of these deals next year. Streaming platforms, labels, and artists will use the tactic much more selectively to minimize fallout while still extracting whatever competitive value they can.

MUSICIANS WILL SQUIRM AS AI GETS BETTER AT MAKING MUSIC

Have you ever seen a computer write a song? It’s nuts. Give IBM’s Watson a simple melody and define a mood, and the multi-talented artificial intelligence platform will churn out an original song that sounds like it was made by a person—albeit not an especially talented one. But it’s now possible to teach machines enough about the rules of music theory to let them compose their own music, complete with multiple instrumental layers and changes in key and tempo. The result isn’t something you’ll want to listen to on your daily commute, but it’s still early in the quest to teach computers how to make art. And it’s not just IBM that’s focused on this. Google’s Magenta project, announced in April 2016, is in the beginning stages of stretching the limits of machine learning to help computers understand—and eventually mimic—creative thinking. Like Watson, Magenta has already produced a rudimentary song of its own.

 

Machines aren’t about to put artists out of work, but advances in artificial intelligence could make certain types of music easier and cheaper to create—video-game soundtracks or background music for a retail store, for instance—that would not require licensing or paying royalties. AI could also augment the creative process for flesh-and-blood songwriters. An artist stuck on writing the chorus of a song could tap into tools based on Watson or Magenta to auto-generate a few ideas.

Next year, expect the technology to improve slightly and for more artists to catch wind of it. Some will see an exciting new creative opportunity. Others will cringe at the mere idea of it.

NEW ANSWERS (AND DOLLAR SIGNS) FOR ARTISTS

The brief history of streaming’s rise has been accompanied by an often awkward question: How will artists fare? It’s a natural concern given the minuscule per-stream royalty rates offered under a model that’s still scaling to its full potential. There won’t be a silver bullet in 2017, but artists will see more reasons to be hopeful about the future because catering to artists has increasingly become a priority for streaming services.

Apple Music and Tidal have famously made artist-friendliness a key tenet of their offerings—or at least of their marketing. In June 2016, Spotify hired former Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter to oversee its expanding artist relations initiatives. Middle-class artists might not be getting huge checks from Spotify, but many are finding new promotional value in landing on the service’s most popular playlists, whether they be hand-curated in-house or data-powered. Discover Weekly alone drove more than half of all listening for 8,000 artists in less than a year. Spotify is also building out more tools and services for artists and finding ways to tap into the passion—and disposable income—of super-fans. Meanwhile, Pandora is busy reshaping itself into a service that caters more directly to artists’ needs, be it with data, marketing tools for artists, or the ability to sell concert tickets directly to fans from within the app.

For now, record labels still reap the lion’s share of revenue, but that balance of power is poised to shift. Between the platforms' investment in artist relations and the growing slice of revenue being generated by streaming, musicians are bound to see new benefits. And streaming services, labels, and artists will all have to renegotiate their relationships with one another. Artists may soon be in a better position to demand more from their labels or, following Frank Ocean’s lead, sidestep the middlemen altogether—a prospect that could become easier for less-than-household names as the streaming industry’s artist-facing services mature.

We’re also seeing promising signs outside of the all-you-can-stream model. In 2015, Bandcamp announced that it had paid out $100 million to artists since being founded in 2008. As 2016 winds down, that number is already up to $190 million, a number that suggests Bandcamp is booming. That’s not just good news for Bandcamp and the artists who use it to sell music and merchandise. It’s also a clear sign that music fans are perfectly happy to pay for music and support artists directly in the digital age.

AMAZON WILL BECOME A MAJOR PLAYER IN MUSIC

In 2016, the streaming battle was primarily framed as a competitive struggle between Apple and Spotify. That will continue in 2017, but while latecomers to the subscription game like Pandora and SoundCloud fight to amass bigger numbers, one company will have a relatively easy time: Amazon. Like Apple, Amazon has the advantage of being a giant tech company with a massive customer base to which it can market its music service. Its wildly successful Echo smart speaker is also a natural vehicle for a full-fledged music subscription service, and Alexa offers more voice control functionality to Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers than it does to users of other services like Spotify and Pandora.

 

It's also a cheaper option for many people: If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, Amazon’s music service is $8 per month. If you own an Echo or Echo Dot, you can get the service for $4 per month (although it will only work on that device). No other major subscription service has been able to dip below the standard $10 monthly price tag, making Amazon’s lower cost a unique competitive advantage.

While it’s no Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited launched as a perfectly decent, cross-platform music service. And the company is already starting to improve the service with more hand-curated playlists and exclusive content deals like the one it recently signed with Garth Brooks. Like Apple and Google, Amazon can afford to invest in this area without much concern for profitability. Expect Amazon to nab quite a few subscribers pretty quickly.

NEXT WAVE OF INNOVATION: VIRTUAL REALITY

Music execs might have been caught off guard by file-sharing and other technological innovations, but the resulting wounds have taught the industry a valuable defensive tactic: Sleep—to paraphrase Napster’s one-time archnemesis Metallica—with one eye open, lest it get blindsided by change yet again.

If virtual reality is going to be as explosive as the experts predict (ballooning to nearly $30 billion in revenue by 2020), the music industry will be ready. Big names like Paul McCartney, U2, Björk, Coldplay, and Deadmau5 are just a few of the artists who have already embraced VR in the form of immersive music videos or live concerts that invite fans onstage. But since consumers are just starting to get acquainted with VR, the music industry has pumped the breaks as it waits for the market for hardware and software (and thus demand for immersive content) to catch up with its ambitions. It’s pretty unusual for the music industry to be ahead of the next wave of innovation, but that’s what’s happening with VR.

 

There are already signs that VR will yield exciting developments for fans and the music industry. Immersive live streams of concerts, for instance, could evolve into a real source of revenue beyond the standard catalogs of recorded music. Music videos, music documentaries, and music-oriented video games can also take on new life in a world where virtual reality headsets are common. There are also interactive music visualizers, which turn songs—or even your own voice—into responsive animations that unfold in front of you. Then there’s the audio itself. For the best experience, immersive music environments will require engineers to mix songs in more spatially complex manners than standard stereo or even surround sound, which could pave the way for innovations in the way music is composed and produced.

There could also be money in VR. It’s still early enough that artists and labels can start crafting business models around a simple but familiar logic: Give fans something meaningful and entertaining that they can’t get anywhere else (or easily pirate) and they just might give you their money. Sounds crazy, I know.

Variety remembers the music industry deaths in 2016

The music industry was hit particularly hard in 2016, with the passing of many notable artists, producers, and managers.

The year got off to a rough start with David Bowie, who died two days after his 69th birthday on January 10. The pioneering British rocker had been diagnosed with liver cancer 18 months earlier but did not disclose his illness. Perhaps knowing that his days were numbered and as a parting gift to his fans, he released his 25th and final album — “Blackstar” — on his birthday. In December, Blackstar was nominated for the 2017 Best Alternative Music Album Grammy, and many consider it one of the best albums of the year. It featured a number of Easter eggs for fans such as a vinyl album cover that turned into a galaxy of stars in the sun. (Read his obituary here.)

April marked the unexpected death of Prince Rogers Nelson, best known by just his first name. Like Bowie, Prince was known for his incredible showmanship, style and musicianship. Prince died of a fentanyl overdose on April 21 in his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Minnesota. He was just 57. His magmum opus, the 1984 soundtrack to “Purple Rain,” earned him two of his seven career Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score in 1985. (Read his obituary here.)

Country music legend Merle Haggard also died in April. His career spanned five decades and spawned 38 No. 1 hits on the country charts. He died on April 6, his 79th birthday, in California. Haggard was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, a Kennedy Center Honor in 2010, and even performed at the Grammys in 2014 with longtime friend Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Blake Shelton. (Read his obituary here.)

Leonard Cohen died on Nov. 10. The Canadian poet and novelist, who became a singular international presence as a singer-songwriter with songs like “Suzanne,” was 82. Only a month before, he released his final album, “You Want It Darker,” a deeply introspective work that focused thematically on mortality. (Read his obituary here.)

George Michael died on Dec. 25 at age 53. The pop star was part of the popular ’80s duo Wham! before branching out into his solo career. His powerful stage presence and overt sexuality were balanced by a giving spirit and desire for privacy. He was one of the earlier celebrities to come out as openly gay. (Read his obituary here.)

Numerous notable producers and managers died in 2016, including Beatles producer George Martin and Celine Dion’s husband and manager Rene Angelil.

A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg, The Surfer Blood’s guitarist Tom Fekete, and rising star Christina Grimmie all died too young. Grimmie was murdered by a deranged fan at the age of 22.

Other influential musicians lost in 2016 include musician and songwriter Leon Russell, who died Nov. 13, and two-thirds of progressive rock trio Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Keith Emerson in March and Greg Lake earlier in December.

 

 

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