Everything you need to know about the music industry

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The Most Streamed Songs of 2019

Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Señorita” – 1.02 billion streams
Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy” – 995 million streams
Post Malone – “Sunflower (ft. Swae Lee)” – 1.222 billion streams
Ariana Grande – “7 Rings” – 953 million streams
Lil Nas X –  “Old Town Road (ft. Billy Ray Cyrus)” – 802 million streams

The five popular tracks encompass what it seems much of the world is loving right now, including hip-hop, pop and Latin inspired pop. The two entries from Lil Nas X and Billie Eilish are considered to be each of their breakout tracks, and to rack up that many streams in one year is a phenomenal achievement!



Highest Attended Ticketed Concert

A total of 225,173 people attended the Modena Park concert on July 1st 2017 to see Vasco Rossi perform, making it the highest attended concert ever.

Vasco Rossi is an Italian singer-songwriter who has released 30 official albums and has written over 250 songs throughout his career, and he’s sold over 35 million copies of his work making him one of the biggest selling Italian singers ever.


Ed Sheeran’s ÷ Tour Grosses $775,046,937

The two year long worldwide tour from Ed Sheeran is the highest grossing tour in history. He performed 260 shows and the attendance totalled to a huge 8,796,567, and the average attendance per show was 34,496.

The tour was supporting Ed Sheeran’s third studio album, named Divide. He finished up the tour with some homecoming shows in Ipswich, and he had different support acts for the the four nights. These were chosen by BBC Music Introducing in Suffolk and Hoax, and they were all local undiscovered artists. The local acts that performed were Bessie Turner, Caswell, Salvador and Piers James.


Most Streamed Song of All Time

Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Shape of You’ is currently the most streamed song of all time, racking up 2.46 billion plays on Spotify alone. The song was released on 6th January 2017, and it was one of the first singles to be released from Ed’s best selling album Divide.

The track was written by Ed himself, along with Steve Mac and Johnny McDaid, and produced by Ed and Steve Mac. It hit number one in 34 countries, including the UK, US, Canada and Australia. It stayed in the number one spot for 14 consecutive weeks in the UK, and a huge 16 weeks in Canada, making it a record tying result.

The track also won Ed Sheeran the ‘Best Pop Solo Performance’ Grammy Award in 2018, along with the ‘Best Pop Vocal Album’ for Divide.



Vinyl Album Chart Launches

Vinyl has seen a huge resurgence over the last few years, and in 2015 this led to the launch of the first official vinyl album chart in the UK.

More than a million vinyl records were sold in 2014, and that was the highest number since 1996 – a 20 year high following seven years of unbroken growth. The first top-seller after the chart launched was Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds with Chasing Yesterday.


Insanity Records Launch

Insanity Records is a joint venture between the Insanity Group and Sony Music which was launched in 2015.

The label have launched the careers of artists such as Craig David, Joy Crookes and Tom Grennan, and they focus on an independent approach to Artist Development.

The Insanity Group was founded by Andy Varley, and they now have offices in London and Los Angles. They cover artist management, television, radio, podcast and also digital influencers. They also have an in house booking agency to handle global touring.



Elton John wins first ever Brits Icon Award

Sir Elton John CBE was given the first ever Brit Icon Award for his contribution to music with his outstanding career over the years.

He’s had many incredible achievements during his career, including 35 gold and 25 platinum albums, and he’s sold over 250 million records all over the world. His song ‘Candle In The Wind 1997’ is also the best selling single of all time, selling over 33 million copies worldwide.


Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Performance

This critically acclaimed performance was held in New Orleans for the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show. Beyoncé’s performance captured a huge 110.8 million viewers, making it the second most watched Super Bowl show in history. It was also the most tweeted about moment ever, as 299,000 tweets were made per minute during her performance.

The halftime show was produced by Ricky Kirshner and directed by Hamish Hamilton, who have both worked on the Super Bowl half time show for more than 10 consecutive years. Beyoncé’s performed 9 of her smash hits, and Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams from Destiny’s Child also made a guest appearance which thrilled fans.



The Death of Amy Winehouse

The extraordinarily talented Amy Winehouse was sadly found dead at her home in London on 23rd July 2011. She had died from alcohol poisoning, and was found by her bodyguard after a day and night of drinking.

Following her death, she broke her second world record by becoming the woman with the most songs in the UK charts, with eight of her tracks.

Just three years earlier, Amy had expressed her fear of dying at the age of 27, which has become a cultural phenomenon due to the many musicians, actors and artists who have all passed away at that age.

After her death, her parents set up The Amy Winehouse Foundation in memory of the singer, aiming to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people.


Longest Time a Female Artist Spent at Number 1

Adele holds the title for the album which has the longest time spent at the number one spot for a female artist.

Her album ’21’ spent a huge 23 weeks at the top of the charts in the UK, and she sold 208,000 copies in the UK alone in the first week of release. Now over 31 million copies have been sold worldwide, making it one of the best selling albums of all time.

Five tracks from the album were released as singles, and three of them also hit number one, including “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone like You” and “Set Fire to the Rain”.



Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress

Lady Gaga wore the infamous dress made of raw beef to the 2010 MTV VMA’s. The dress was designed by Franc Fernandez and styled by Nicola Formichetti. She angered animal rights groups by wearing the dress, and it was also named as the top fashion statement of the year by Time Magazine.

Gaga was nominated for eighteen awards on the night, and she bagged eight of them, including the Best Video for ‘Bad Romance’ and Best Collaboration for ‘Telephone’ with Beyoncé.

Telephone‘ hit the Number One spot in the UK and sold 7.4m copies worldwide, whilst ‘Bad Romance’ went to Number One in the UK and multiple other countries around the world and went on to sell 9.7m copies globally.


Launch of Black Butter Records

Black Butter is a London based record label which was launched by Henry Village and Joe Gossa as a joint venture with Sony Music.

The label was launched in 2010, and it quickly became one of the most impressive labels in the country. Artists who have been launched by the label include Jess Glynne, Rudimental, Gorgon City and Jessie Ware.

They also host a new wave of talent, including Octavian, Young T & Bugsey and J Hus who are all killing it at the moment.



The Death of Michael Jackson

The American pop music legend sadly died on 25th June 2009 at his home in Los Angeles. The singer died of an overdose of the drugs propofol and benzodiazepine following a cardiac arrest.

He was just weeks away from his sold out comeback shows at London’s O2 Arena which were due to be held between July 2009 and March 2010, and he was rehearsing for these shows the night before his passing.

The King of Pop was, and still is, a global superstar who has inspired so many people around the world. It’s estimated that he sold over 350 million records worldwide, and his album ‘Thriller‘ is the best selling album of all time. The record racked up 66 million sales around the world, and it went straight to the number one spot in multiple countries.



The Launch of Spotify

The streaming giant Spotify launched in Sweden in 2008. As of December 2019, they have a huge 271 million users across 79 markets, over 50 million tracks and 700,000 + podcast titles available to stream.

Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon created the platform to try and curb the growing problem of piracy in the music industry. They developed the idea of a free account for users which featured adverts, in the hope that those members would upgrade to the premium paid service.

Recently the platform, along with other streaming services, has faced criticism over the amount of money they pay out to artists for their music. They distribute approximately 70% of their total revenue to rights holders, who then pass the payment onto their artists. You can calculate how much money you have earned from your stream with our Royalty Calculator.



First Live Concert Broadcast to Space

Paul McCartney became the first musician to perform and broadcast a concert to outer space. The show was held in Anaheim, California and it was transmitted to the International Space Station to two astronauts.

He performed two tracks, ‘Good Day Sunshine’ and ‘English Tea’ to NASA astronaut Bill McArthur and Valery Tokarev from Russia – “That was simply magnificent,” McArthur told the singer. “We consider you an explorer just as we are.”



Launch of iTunes

The iTunes Music Store launched initially in the USA, and it enabled users to purchase and download tracks for 99 cents each and there were no subscription fees involved.

“The iTunes Music Store offers the revolutionary rights to burn an unlimited number of CDs for personal use and to put music on an unlimited number of iPods for on-the-go listening. Consumers don’t want to be treated like criminals and artists don’t want their valuable work stolen. The iTunes Music Store offers a groundbreaking solution for both”, said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.

As they launched, they held over 200,000 songs from BMG, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal, Warner and other music companies. They also had exclusive tracks and videos from artists such as U2, Bob Dylan, Eminem and Sheryl Crow, adding an incentive for music fans to navigate to their platform.

iTunes became available in the UK, France and Germany on 15th June 2004, and they also announced that they will launch a European Union version of their store in October later that year. By the time they launched here in the UK, they had over 700,000 songs available to purchase.



The Launch of the iPod

When the iPod launched, it certainly changed the way that we consumed music forever. It wasn’t the first MP3 player ever, but it was definitely the first one that turned it into a must have device for everyone.

Steve Jobs famously pitched the device using the phrase ‘Say hello to iPod. 1,000 songs in your pocket.’. It was smaller than the other MP3 players available at the time, and it’s great user interface made it a lot easier for people to use – being only 0.75 inches thick, having the famous click wheel and having a two inch screen were some of the main features.

Apple released the iPod with 5GB or 10GB of storage available, and they could store between 1000 – 2000 songs. The battery life could last up to 10 hours and you could buy one from $399.

By December 2001, 25,000 original iPods had been sold. Now, according to data from Apple, over 400 million iPods have been sold worldwide.



Launch of Relentless Records

Relentless was launched in 1999, and they were originally known for putting out massive hit singles like ‘Re-Rewind’ from Artful Dodger and the B15 Project’s ‘Girls Like This’. They have also achieved huge album sales for Joss Stone, KT Tunstall, Cage The Elephant and So Solid Crew.

They currently have Tom Walker on their roster, who they signed at the early stages of his career. They have worked with him for a few years on artist development and a their hard work is paying off, as Tom has now won a Brit Awards and his debut album hit the number one spot in the UK charts.


Nirvana at the Paramount, Seattle

Nirvana’s set at The Paramount in Seattle is an iconic performance from the band. It was five weeks after the release of their album ‘Nevermind’, and the performance was also recorded. It’s the only Nirvana show to be shot on 16mm film, and it was later released in 2011 and then released again on vinyl in 2019.

The performance included material from their debut album ‘Bleach’, along with tracks from the recent release at the time, ‘Nevermind’. The latter album had already sold over half a million copies at the time of the performance, and it went onto sell over 30 million copies worldwide.


The Launch of Napster

Napster was founded by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker almost 20 years ago. The file sharing software enabled the public to download MP3 files free of charge (payment was optional), and the service was running until July 2001 until they were shut down by a court order for copyright infringements.

Four months after the launch, they had already accumulated over 150,000 users. It’s reported that they had around 80 million users in total using the service, and the effects of this on the music industry are still being felt today. The benefit of having the ability to download music for free really set in with the public, and it’s been a continuous struggle to get the industry back to what it once was.

After Napster were shut down, they came back as an online music store, and in 2011 it was acquired by Rhapsody and is now an online streaming platform and users can pay a flat monthly fee to use the service.



Longest Single to hit Number 1

Oasis hold the record for the longest track to hit the number one spot in the charts with their track All Around the World. The track is a whopping 9:38 long, and it came from their hugely popular album, Be Here Now.



Tupac’s Death

The legendary American rapper Tupac was shot on September 7th 1996 in Las Vegas in a drive-by shooting. He was only 25 years old, and he died from his injuries 6 days later.

The shooting took place at 11:15pm and he was hit by four .40 caliber rounds shot by a Glock:[1], two of which hit his chest, one on his arm and the other to the thigh.

Earlier that night, Tupac, Suge Knight (co-founder of Death Row Records) and Suge’s gang of Bloods beat up Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson who was a Southside Crip, in a Las Vegas casino lobby. Following this, Anderson and his gang wanted revenge, so they went out onto the Las Vegas strip. They saw Suge driving with Tupac in the front seat, and then Anderson fatally shot Tupac.


Oasis at Knebworth

After their release of ‘(What’s The Story?) Morning Glory’, Oasis announced that they were playing two nights at Knebworth House, Hertfordshire on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 August 1996.

It’s said that 2.6 million people applied to tickets to the iconic gig, which amounted to around 5% of the UK population at the time, and it also meant that the band could have sold out that venue for a solid two weeks due to the amount of people that wanted to attend.

The held the record for the biggest crowd at the time, with 125,000 people in attendance each night they played. It’s also reported that the guestlist for the event had a staggering 7000 people on it!


2Pac at House of Blues

2Pac’s iconic set at the House of Blues was his last performance before his tragic death just two months later.

He was opening for Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound, and the performace was recorded and released 9 years later as an album. Since it’s release, over 1 million copies have been sold and it’s been certified platinum.



Most Expensive Music Video

Michael and Janet Jackson’s track ‘Scream’ had the most expensive music video of all time, totalling a huge $7 million dollars. It was aired on June 13th 1995 and it was directed by Mark Romanek.

The video featured a wipe-clean, hyper-modern spaceship, complete with indoor zen garden, remote controlled art gallery and futuristic squash court. Seven sound stages were built to make the video, and it was created in only 7 weeks. The set took two weeks to plan and set up, and then a further two weeks to film.



K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

On 23 August 1994, The K Foundation burned £1 million worth of cash. The money came from the earnings of their records sales as one of the most successful pop groups of the early 1990’s, The KLF.

Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty made their way up to the isle of Jura, near Scotland, to complete the dramatic event, and their collaborator, Gimbo, recorded the whole thing. The film went onto tour the UK, and Drummond and Cauty debated with the audiences about the meaning of the burning.

John Reid, the only other witness, wrote – “Cauty and Drummond tend to dismiss their past work. The million may have come from a critically-acclaimed music career, but to them by now much of it seemed like a failure. Perhaps burning the money is a purgative.”


Kurt Cobain’s Death

Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of the iconic band Nirvana, was found dead at his home after committing suicide in Seattle at the young age of 27.

He was prone to alcoholism and regularly used drugs and inhalants, and according to The Telegraph, he also had depression. Cobain was hospitalised following a painkiller overdose, and it’s not certain whether this was accidental or not. His wife, Courtney Love, believes that it was a suicide attempt: “He took 50 pills. He probably forgot how many he took. But there was a definite suicidal urge, to be gobbling and gobbling and gobbling.”



Interscope Records

Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field founded the record label as a $20 million joint venture with Atlantic Records, part of Warner Music Group.

The label differed from their competitors as they let the A&R staff have the authority to make decisions and also allowed their artists complete creative control over their work.

Hit records were released under the label within it’s first year, and they were profitable by 1993. The first release was from Ecuadorian rapper Gerardo, titled “Rico Suave”. The track went to number two on the Billboard Top 100 in April 1991. Then in August 1991, Tupac Shakur was signed to the label by Tom Whalley, just two days after Whalley heard his demo. His first album was released in November later that year.



The Creation of the MP3

A German company called Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft, invented and developed the MP3. They have licensed patents to the creation until its recent demise. Bernhard Grill, Karl-Heinz Brandenburg, Thomas Sporer, Bernd Kurten, and Ernst Eberlein were the inventors listed on the patent. The first patent was filed in April 1989 in Germany, and it was issued in the US on November 26th 1996.

MP3 stands for MPEG Audio Layer III. It’s a standard for audio compression that will make a music file smaller without damaging the sound quality. MP3 is part of MPEG, an acronym for Motion Pictures Expert Group.

Later in the 1990’s, Frauenhofer started to develop the first MP3 player, but it didn’t come to much. Then Tomislav Uzelac invented his version of the MP3 player in 1997 which was successful. After this, in 1998 Winamp became a free MP3 music player, which sky-rocketed the success of the MP3.



Live Aid 1985

The iconic concert was held on 13th July 1985 at Wembley Stadium in London and also at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The events captivated nearly 40% of the world population, with an estimated 1.9 billion viewers across 150 nations watching the live broadcast.

“We took an issue that was nowhere on the political agenda and, through the lingua franca of the planet – which is not English but rock ‘n’ roll – we were able to address the intellectual absurdity and the moral repulsion of people dying of want in a world of surplus.” – Bob Geldof

The line up of the events was filled with global superstars, with names such as Spandau Ballet, Elvis Costello, Sade, U2, David Bowie just to name a few. The most notable performance was by none other than Queen. Their performance has gone down in history as one of the greatest of all time. They performed some of their greatest hits to the sold out Wembley Stadium, and Freddie Mercury’s “Note Heard Round The World” became famous during the band’s a-cappella section of the performance.

The Live Aid events raised a total of $127 million for the famine relief in Africa.



Def Jam Recordings

Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons are the two founders of Def Jam Recordings. Rubin initially released a single from his punk-rock group Hose, before he met Simmons. Once the pair joined forces, their first release with the Def Jam logo was from T La Rock & Jazzy Jay, and then the first release with catalog numbers was from LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, both in 1984. Both of those singles sold well, and it led to a distribution deal from Columbia Records, who were a part of CBS Records.


Most Grammy’s Won in One Night

Michael Jackson won a total of 8 Grammy’s in one night at the 26th Annual Grammy Awards in 1984. He was nominated for 12 on the night, and he won big with the Album of the Year and Record of the Year being two of the awards he went away with.

Throughout his career, he won a total of 13 Grammy awards, and he was nominated for a huge 38.



The First CD

The compact disc was co-developed by Phillips and Sony, and the format was initially developed to store and play sound recordings, but it later developed into the CD-ROM to store data too. The first commercial CD player was released later that year in October in Japan.

‘The Visitors’ by ABBA was the first popular music CD to be produced in the Polydor Pressing Operations plant in Germany. This factory was established by Phillips, and the first ever test pressing was of Richard Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony).

The CD became incredibly popular, and by 2007, 200 billion CDs had been sold worldwide.



Kerrang! Magazine Launches

The rock and metal music focussed magazine was first published on 6th June 1981. It was originally created for a one-off feature in the Sounds newspaper. The publication then went on to being released on a fortnightly basis, and then in 1987 it went weekly. Then in the early 2000s it became the best-selling British music weekly magazine.

The first cover star was Angus Young of AC/DC, and in the 80’s and early 90’s they went on to place many different rock and metal acts on their cover, such as Mötley Crüe, Slayer, Bon Jovi and Metallica.

Fun Fact: The name of the magazine came from the onomatopoeic word that comes from the sound that is made when playing a chord on a distorted electric guitar.



John Lennon’s Assassination

John Lennon, of the world renowned band The Beatles, was fatally shot in his residence in New York. He was shot by Mark David Chapman, who was a resident of Hawaii.

Chapman was angered by the lifestyle and public statements that Lennon made, specifically his remarks about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus and also the lyrics of his songs ‘Imagine’ and ‘God’. He said that he was also inspired by the character Holden Caulfield from the novel Catcher in the Rye.

He had planned the murder over several months. He met Lennon earlier on in the evening of his attack, and he got his copy of the album ‘Double Fantasy’ signed by the singer. Later on, Chapman waited for Lennon to return home and then shot him four times in the back, and then remained at the scene reading The Catcher in the Rye until he was arrested.



The Launch of Rhino

The company originally started as a record shop in Los Angeles, before becoming a record distributor five years later.

Now, a division of Warner Music Group, Rhino looks after the catalogue development and marketing. They were founded in 1978, and they pride themselves on excellent quality reissues, focussing on perfect sound quality, bonus tracks, creative packaging and social conscience.

They’ve released a catalogue of over 5,000 works, from artists such as Led Zeppelin, Eagles, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, The Doors, Chicago, Ray Charles, Black Sabbath, John Coltrane, Yes, Phil Collins, The Ramones, and The Monkees, among many others.



First BRIT Awards

The BRIT Awards is an annual awards ceremony celebrating the best of British music and international talent. Now in it’s 40th year, the award show continues to captivate huge audiences, and the artists who win awards always see a great rise in the sales and streams of their material following the night.

The first ceremony was held in 1977 at the Wembley Conference Centre and it was hosted by Michael Aspel. They held the awards to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and the previous 25 years of her reign.

The first ‘Album of the Year’ award went to The Beatles for ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, and they also picked up the award for their Outstanding Contribution to Music.



First Album By Female Artist To Hit No.1

The first number one album in the UK for a female artist was the soundtrack to the 1976 film ‘A Star Is Born’, from Barbara Streisand. The album sold over 4 million copies worldwide, and it also hit the number one spot in the US, Canada and New Zealand.

It took 21 years for this to happen, and following this number one, Barbara Streisand went on to achieve another 6 number one albums in the UK alone.



Capital FM Launches

Started in London, Capital was an independent radio station in the 1970’s, and it then went on to become one of the UK’s largest radio groups in the 1990’s. The acquired local radio stations including Red Dragon FM, BRMB and Power FM. Then they merged with the GWR Group in 2005, becoming the One Network. The stations are now owned by Global Radio, and Capital remains as one of the most popular radio stations.


Virgin Records

Virgin Records began when Richard Branson spotted a gap in the market for selling cheap records by post. He launched Virgin Mail Order, and the company grew so much that in the first year, he opened a store on Oxford street, names Virgin Records.

After dealing with major labels, he realised that there was room for disruption and change within the industry. This led him and his team to buy a property called ‘The Manor’, and turn it into a recording studio and also launch his own record label under the name ‘Virgin Records’ in 1973.

Mike Oldfield was the first artist to be signed to the label, and his album ‘Tubular Bells’ was their first release. It went onto be one of the biggest selling albums of that decade, and it was also the soundtrack to the film The Exorcist. After that, the label grew and grew. They went onto sign The Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones, and their reputation as one of the coolest record labels was certainly in place.

Then, in 1992, Richard Branson made the incredibly tough decision to sell Virgin Records to Thorn EMI to fund Virgin Atlantic Airways.


The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd

The eighth studio album from the English rock band released under Harvest Records. The iconic album has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide since its release in 1973 and it spent a colossal 937 weeks on the Billboard 200. It was their first album that made it to the No. 1 spot in the US, and it peaked at No. 2 in the UK charts.

Tracks from the best-selling album were all developed during their live performances, and they were playing early versions to their audiences months before they even got into the recording studio.

The album was recorded in two sessions at the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London, UK with the help of engineer Alan Parsons who also worked with The Beatles on their albums ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be’. Since it’s release, the album has been reissued and remastered multiple times, and most recently for digital release on streaming platforms, such as Spotify, in 2011.


EMI Records Launch

Created in 1956, EMI Records oversaw various labels, including The Gramophone Co. Ltd, Columbia Graphophone Company and Parlophone Co.

Then in July 1965, the labels under EMI Records were extracted and put into The Gramophone Company Ltd, and this was then renamed EMI Records Ltd in 1973.

The label went onto sign Kraftwerk, Renaissance, Queen, Olivia Newton-John, Iron Maiden, Kate Bush, Sheena Easton, Pink Floyd, and Robbie Williams who have all had extremely successful careers.

As of 2013, Warner Music Group acquired EMI UK’s catalogue after the acquisition of The Parlophone Label Group’s assets.



Launch of Asylum Records

The American record label was founded in 1971 by David Geffen and Elliot Roberts. It is now under the umbrella of Warner Music Group, and is now part of Atlantic Records.

Their current roster includes the global superstar Ed Sheeran, Rudimental, Charli XCX and more. Early signings from the label included Jackson The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, and Tom Waits.

Fun Fact: The label achieved its first number 1 hit on the UK Singles Chart in May 2012 with “Feel the Love” by Rudimental.



The First Woodstock Music Festival

Half a million people travelled to a farm in Bethel, New York to attend the three-day music festival. The festival was originally known as “An Aquarian Experience: 3 Days of Peace and Music”, but it later became known as just Woodstock.

John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang were the four minds behind Woodstock. They were all under the age of 28, and they were simply looking for an investment opportunity.

Among the line up they had Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Joan Beez and Janis Joplin just to name a few. In total they had 33 artists performing over the three days.

The event was a huge success, but the organisers had to face a couple of issues: Last minute changes tho the venue, dodgy weather and the sheer amount of people who were attending caused some problems. They ended up making the event free to attendees, due to these issues, which would be unheard of now for such a big music event.



Rolling Stone Magazine Launches

The first edition of Rolling Stone magazine featured John Lennon on the cover. It came in a newspaper format, and the lead article was about the Monterey Pop Festival. The price was only 25¢, which is the equivalent of about $2 now.

The magazine is a monthly publication which focuses on popular culture, mainly focussing on music. It was founded by Jann Wenner and Ralph J. Gleason in San Fransisco, California.

Wenner explained in the first issue that the title of the magazine referred to the 1950 blues song “Rollin’ Stone” by Muddy Waters, and also Bob Dylan’s hit single “Like a Rolling Stone”.

Over the years some of the covers of this magazine have become iconic. Their cover stars have ranged from musicians to politicians to actors, and they’re known for their sometimes provocative photography.


The Beatles release “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

I’m sure you’ve heard of the iconic album by The Beatles, so here are some facts you may not know about the release –

  • After it’s release, the album spent the remainder of the year at No.1 on the UK charts.
  • In America, the record spent 15 weeks at the number one spot.
  • The crowd noises you can hear at the start of ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ were recorded by George Martin during one of their concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.
  • In total, 700 hours were spent recording the album.
  • The album cover was designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth from an ink drawing by Paul McCartney, and the cover art ended up costing nearly £3000 – 60 times the average amount that would have usually been spent at the time.
  • The album won multiple Grammy Awards, including Best Contemporary Album, Best Engineered Recording, Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts and also Album of the Year. It was also the first rock album to receive the prestigious awards.



Back in 1964, The Beatles were topping the charts in the UK, and they had just started to gain a following across the pond and worldwide with songs from their first couple of albums ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘With the Beatles’.

Records sales began to soar over in the USA thanks to radio airplay and a broad marketing campaign, and huge enthusiasm from new fans began to show.

The band embarked on a series of tours throughout 1964, starting in Europe and going on to visit the states, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Pure excitement and determination took over the fans, and this led to the police having to control the crowds, and they would sometimes have to use fire hoses to hold them back.

On 9th February 1964, the band appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show for their first televised concert. The sheer popularity of the band was shown here, as a huge 73 million people tuned in to watch the performance, which equated to 34% of the American population!



The Cassette Tape

The cassette was developed by Philips in Hasselt, Belgium and they were originally designed for dictation machines. Improvements over time meant that they eventually became suitable for portable audio, home recording and data storage for early microcomputers.

From the early 1970’s to the 1990’s, the cassette tape was one of the most common formats for recorded music, along with the LP record and then the compact disc later on. After it’s peak in the late 80’s, the cassette’s popularity declined quickly as the rise of the CD took over in the early 90’s

However, in 2016, the popular fashion retail company Urban Outfitters, (who have sold Vinyl LPs for some time), started selling pre-recorded cassette tapes along with blank cassettes and players. They’re now selling cassettes of Britney Spears, Lauv, Kanye West, and Eminem to name a few!



First Grammy Awards Ceremony

The Grammy Awards began back in 1959. The idea came from recording executives when they were choosing other industry people who would qualify for a star on the Walk of Fame. They realised that there were way too many people, so they decided to create an award similar to the Oscars or the Emmy’s, which was relevant to the recording industry.

There were a few options for the name that they would give the award itself, including the Eddie, which was in honour of Thomas Edison who created the phonograph. They eventually decided to use the name of Emile Berliner’s invention, the gramophone. This later became shortened to Grammy, which is what we all know the award as today.

During the first ceremony, 28 awards were given out, and over the years the amount of awards given fluctuated as categories were added and removed. At one time, there were over 100 awards listed!


Island Records

At 21 years old, Christ Blackwell launched the label Island Records in Jamaica (with the help of a loan from his parents). His first release under the label was from Lance Hayward, and following this he went onto release a string of albums which tapped into the vibrant, up-beat Jamaican spirit.

In 1962, he relocated to the UK with his three business partners and began to distribute the records himself by driving his Mini Cooper around the M1 to Birmingham, Manchester and London to serve the West Indian immigrant communities.

The first UK hit for the label was by Jamaican teenager Millie Small, and the track was a ska cover of My Boy Lollipop. The track went to number two in the charts in the UK and US, and it hit the number one spot in the Republic of Ireland.



FM Radio Broadcasting Begins

The BBC started FM sound broadcasting in the UK on 2nd May 1955. They began to broadcast the Light Programme, the Third Programme and the Home Service. to the south eastern parts of England.

Now, there are over 40 BBC and over 250 commercial radio stations in the UK.

At the time, AM broadcasting was more popular, and it wasn’t until 1988 that the BBC’s popular music station Radio 1 switched over to FM.



Launch of NME Magazine

The NME, (New Musical Express) was a British music magazine that came into circulation in 1952. They were the first publication to include the singles chart, and this began on 14th November 1952.

It became the best-selling British music publication in the 1970’s, and during the 1980’s it moved to a magazine format, changing from traditional newsprint.

After popularity for a physical format magazine declined, March 2018 saw the publisher announce that the print edition of NME would cease publication after 66 years, and they would continue to publish their articles online only.



Launch of Atlantic Records

Founded in New York by Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson in 1947, Atlantic Records started out as an independent business which was dedicated to finding, recording and promoting new talent from the R&B and jazz genres.

The pair were then joined by an incredible production team, including Jerry Wexler, Nesuhi Ertegun, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin. From Ray Charles to Led Zeppelin, from John Coltrane to Aretha Franklin, from Otis Redding to Genesis – the label have nurtured and launched careers for so many legendary artists.

Now in it’s seventh decade, the label continues to represent global superstars including Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Death Cab For Cutie and Wiz Khalifa.



Launch of Polydor Records

Polydor was founded in Germany in 1946 as part of the parent label Deutsche Grammophon. It was another 10 years until the UK division was launched, and this was at the time of the phenomenon of the rock’n’roll scene.

Later in 1961, the German division of Polydor launched a single from Tony Sheridan and The Beat Boys, and at the time it wasn’t known that this would end up changing the scene of music worldwide. The backing group grew to be none other than The Beatles.

The label went onto create a roster of British based and global pop and rock talent, including names like The Bee Gees, Billie Eilish and Eminem to name just a few.



Robert Johnson’s Crossroad Blues

In 1936, Robert Johnson recorded ‘Crossroad Blues’ and then released it later in 1973. He used his guitar in the Delta blues-style alongside his vocals, and it was performed as a solo piece.

The track referred to the place where he allegedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talents. The lyrics don’t actually contain any proper references to this, but it has since become part of the Robert Johnson mythology.

The song was later popularised by the English guitarist Eric Clapton with Cream in the late 1960’s. This interpretation led to many more cover versions of the track, and it was named as one of the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.



First Electric Guitar

The first electric guitar that was produced was called the ‘frying pan’. It was created by George Beauchamp in 1931 and then it went on to be manufactured by Rickenbacker Electro.

It was designed to take advantage of the popularity of Hawaiian music during the 1930’s. They began to sell the guitar in 1932, but the patent wasn’t awarded to Beauchamp until 1937. This meant that other guitar manufacturers were able to copy his idea around this time.



First Vinyl Record

The first commercial vinyl record was launched by RCA Victor. They were marketed as “Program Transcription” discs and they were pressed on 12″ diameter flexible plastic discs and designed for playback at 33⅓ rpm. According to the book The Fabulous Phonograph written by Roland Gelatt, the introduction of the disc was a commercial failure due to the lack of affordable and reliable playback equipment and also the wariness caused by the Great Depression.

The first recording issued was of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. 

Around the time of WWII, shellac supplies were extremely limited, and this led to some 78 rpm records being pressed in vinyl instead.

Then in 1939, Columbia Records continued to develop this technology. They put their efforts into solving the problems of recording and playing back narrow grooves, and also addressing the issue of the lack of accessible playback systems. They then introduced the 12″ LP at a conference in New York.

This launch spurred on the commercial rivalry between RCA Victor and Columbia Records, and it led RCA Victor to launch the 7″ EP. Over the next couple of years, there was uncertainty from record labels and consumers about which format would become the most popular.

Eventually, the LP became the disc of choice for albums, and the EP was more popular for singles and shorter recordings.



Decca Records Launched

Decca’s roots actually come from a family run business, named Barnett Samuel And Sons Ltd. The business manufactured musical instruments, and they created the Decca Dulcephone. It was a revolutionary portable gramophone player, and this led on to make them the biggest record wholesaler in London.

The British record label Decca was founded in 1929 by Edward Lewis. In late 1934, the US label was established. However, due to the Nazi aggression that led to WWII, Lewis ended up selling the US label which meant that the connection between the US and the UK was broken for decades to follow.

Decca had their own recording studios set up in the Chenil Galleries on King’s Road in London. Performances from recording artists were caught on a single microphone, which was concealed by a partition showing rural scenes.



RCA Records Launch

RCA has been around since 1919, and the company consists of RCA Records, RCA Victor, Space & Time Records and Chess Club Records, and it’s now a flagship label of Sony Music Entertainment.

As well as being a hugely successful record label, they also pioneered the first 45rpm record. They’ve worked with a list of legendary music artists, including Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Nina Simone, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Diana Ross.

They now work with UK based artists such as Little Mix, Bring Me The Horizon, Paloma Faith and Olly Murs, alongside the US megastars Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé.



Parlophone Records Launched

Parlophone is a German-British record label that was launched back in 1896 by the Carl Lindström Company, and they originally gained a reputation in the 1920’s as a jazz label.

Later in 1962, the label signed The Beatles, and then during the 60’s Parlophone became one of the worlds most famous record labels. They had 7 number one singles in the uk in 1964, and they released the single “She Loves You” and the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles.

Much later on in 2013, the label was acquired by Warner Music Group, and they are now one of three flagship labels under the group, representing Coldplay, David Guetta, Lily Allen, Kylie Minogue, Damon Albarn.



Launch of Columbia Records

Columbia Records was founded in 1887, and it is the oldest surviving brand name within the recorded sound business and they were the second name to produce records.

Columbia is now owned by the Sony Music group, and there is a very long list of successful artists who have recorded for them, including Adele, Louis Armstrong, Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Pink Floyd and Frank Sinatra to name a few.



First Sound Recording

The phonograph cylinder was the first practical sound recording device that actually reproduced the sound too. It was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 and the patent was put in place in 1878.

Following this, the commercial recording, distribution and sale of sound recordings grew into an international industry over the next two decades, and by the early 1900’s most popular titles were selling millions of copies.



Beethoven’s First Symphony

Beethoven wrote his first symphony when he was just 25 years old. There are clear influences from Haydn and Mozart in the music, but you can hear that greatness was to come from the legendary composer.

He was already breaking the mould, as the symphony started in a different key from the key of the symphony as a whole.

It was premiered to the Viennese public during a concert on 2nd April 1800, and it was published a year later in 1801. The symphony was dedicated to Baron Gottfried van Swieten, who was one of his most vociferous supporters.



Mozart Symphony No. 1

Written when he was just 8 years old, Mozart’s Symphony No.1 was his first symphony, and he went on to write 40 more over the next two decades.

The piece was written in 1764, whilst he and his family were touring London. His father was struck down with illness, and Mozart wasn’t allowed to touch the piano so he started to write a symphony to occupy himself.

He wrote it in E flat major, and the piece was criticised by his father for being too basic and he found three faults in the music. It’s not known to be one of Mozart’s best works, but it’s certainly remarkable for an 8 year old.



The First Guitar

It’s thought that the first guitar was developed by the people of Malaga, and it’s been traced back as far as the 15th century. The first guitars were originally strung with four strings, and they were very small in size.

During the Renaissance, the guitar was not taken seriously as an instrument. Later in the Baroque period, a fifth string was added and this meant even more music was available, and the complexity of the music increased earning the guitar more popularity.

At the end of the Baroque period, the five double strings on the guitar were replaced with six single strings. This led onto the Classical period, where the guitar was extremely popular and there were regular guitar concerts held for the public. But the guitar then fell out of popularity again in the 19th century, but was resurrected by Francisco Tarrega.

Then Antonio de Torres worked on the design and construction of the instrument, and later became known as the father of the guitar. He incresed the size and worked on the volume that the guitar held.



Gregorian Chants

The Gregorian chant is a tradition of Western plainchant, which is a form of monophonic sacred song in Latin and sometimes Greek. It was developed during the 9th and 10th centuries, mainly in western and central Europe. Pope Gregory has been credited for inventing the Gregorian chants.

The chant was traditionally performed by choirs of men and boys in churches, and by men and women of religious orders in their chapels. The chants are sung by using hexachords, which are six note patterns. The melodies are traditionally written using neumes, which are an early form of musical notation which our modern four and five line staff was developed from.

Gregorian chant is no longer obligatory, but the Roman Catholic Church still considers it officially as the most suitable music for worship. The Gregorian chant also underwent a popular resurgence during the 20th century.



Music Notation Began

Studied show that music notation actually began with the Ancient Greeks – but there are very few examples of this. For instance, Pythagoras was interested in the way that music worked and he is thought to be one of the first to investigate the numerical relationships between music intervals. The idea of tetrachord (four notes of a scale) was also created by the Greeks.

Then in the sixth century, the influential De Institutione Musica (The Principles of Music) was written by a Roman senator named Boethius. This brought the Pythagorian understanding of maths and music to medieval Western Europe.

The first music school was started in Europe a few decades later by Pope Gregory (who also invented the Gregorian chant). The school was names ‘The Schola Cantarum’, and the desire to learn about music was gaining popularity around this time.

650 AD saw the new development of a music notation called ‘neumes’. This was developed by St Isidore, and it meant that vocal chants could be written down with text, and neumes would be notated showing the contour of the melody.

Then in around 1000 AD, Guido D’Arezzo created a system of four-lined staves whereby you could organise pitches into groups named ‘hexachords’. He was also the one to add time signatures and to invent solfege (do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do).

Then around 1250, a system of symbols was invented by Franco of Cologne. This consisted of mostly square or diamond shaped black notepads without stems. Later in 1320, Philippe de Vitry took this idea further and he created a system of of mensural time signatures for minims, crotchets and semiquavers.

Music notation continued to evolve throughout the 1600’s during the period of Renaissance and Baroque composers. However, the notations were still not providing enough information. Composers started to introduce barlines, performance direction and dynamic markings. Then in the 1950’s graphic scores were introduced, combining art and music in a musical map helping the performer to play the music.


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