Entertainment & Arts

Music in 2015: A look ahead

Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Iggy Azalea
Image caption Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Iggy Azalea are all expected to win Brits and Grammys in 2015

Where will you get your music in 2015? Increasingly, it seems like you won't be buying CDs on the high street.

In the US, revenue from streaming songs surpassed CD sales for the first time in 2014 and the UK market is catching up fast.

Apple signalled it was ready to make a fresh assault on the market when it purchased Dr Dre's Beats company, including its streaming service, for $3bn (£1.75bn) in October.

But not everyone is a fan: Beyonce, The Black Keys and Taylor Swift all withheld their music from streaming sites this year, partly in protest at the low royalty rates on offer.

Ed Sheeran, on the other hand, said he owed his career to Spotify and blamed record labels for not paying a fair share of streaming royalties.

"I'm playing three Wembley Stadiums on album two. I don't think I'd be able to do that without Spotify," he told the BBC.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ed Sheeran will play his three-night residency solo, armed just with a guitar and a loop pedal

Sheeran's stadium residency - which he'll play without a backing band - is one of the live music highlights of 2015. Incredibly, he sold out the gigs before even announcing his support acts,

"My whole thing is I don't want to play to someone else's crowd," he explained, "but I've [booked] three acts every day and they're all multi-platinum. Some of them have played Wembley before. It'll be like a little mini festival."

Sheeran is not the only artist to book a spot on Wembley's turf, with AC/DC and Foo Fighters promising to rock the big white arch next summer.

Playing on a very different pitch is Katy Perry, who hosts the prestigious Super Bowl half-time show in Arizona on 1 February.

Having promised edible glitter, fire-breathing sharks and a thousand kittens, the pop star is guaranteed an audience in the millions. Traditionally, more people watch the concert than the game itself.

Image copyright YouTube
Image caption Katy Perry says she is "already road-testing ideas" in a tongue-in-cheek promo video

Other tours on the horizon include One Direction, Taylor Swift, Take That and Fleetwood Mac, now reunited with Christine McVie.

Jessie Ware, Royal Blood and George Ezra will also be packing their belongings into a camper van, while the Wu Tang Clan celebrate their 20th birthday with a show at the Brixton Academy.

But hopefully there are a few surprises in store, too. The best gigs of 2014 were Prince's pop-up performances and Kate Bush's unexpected Hammersmith residency.

Could David Bowie suddenly pitch up with a new show in 2015? (Short answer: No).

Bowie is also rumoured to be playing Glastonbury in the summer - more out of tradition than expectation - but more likely headliners include Iron Maiden, Muse, The Libertines and Coldplay.

Lionel Richie has already been booked for the Sunday afternoon "oldies" slot. If he doesn't break out The Commodores' Easy, he's doing it wrong.

Image caption Metallica's Glastonbury set opened up the possibility of other metal acts headlining the festival

Meanwhile, last year's headliners, Metallica, are holed up in the recording studio working on their 10th studio album.

"We have something called 'the Riff Bank,' and the Riff Bank keeps getting bigger and bigger, still, to this day," Kirk Hammett told MTV.

Radiohead are also in the exploratory stages of making a new record. Producer Nigel Godrich has posted a series of cryptic Twitter pictures that either show the band hard at work or connecting long distance calls for BT.

Image copyright Twitter / Nigel Godrich
Image caption Radiohead have been hinting they are working on a new album, the first since 2011's King Of Limbs

Bringing the LOLs, Muse have decided the themes of their forthcoming seventh album will be "deep ecology, the empathy gap and World War Three".

And Madonna is dusting off her leotard for the follow-up to 2012's lukewarm MDNA.

Rebel Heart, her 13th album, sees her working with Ryan Tedder (Adele, Beyonce) and dance producer Diplo, who said he'd written three "amazing smashes" with the Queen Mother of Pop.

However, dozens of unfinished demos for the project leaked online before Christmas, prompting Madonna to rush-release six tracks on iTunes.

With titles like Unapologetic Bitch and Illuminati, the music is uncompromising and ferocious - prompting some reviewers to suggest Rebel Heart could be the star's best album in a decade.

Other albums on the horizon include:

  • The long-awaited return of Rihanna - who has been teasing new snippets of music on Instagram
  • Coldplay, with Chris Martin promising their next album, tentatively called A Head Full of Dreams, will be their last
  • South London dance act Rudimental - joining forces with funk legend George Clinton
  • Giorgio Moroder - who's enlisted Kylie and Britney for his first album in 30 years
  • An album of "uncovers" by Bob Dylan, who has reworked 10 songs including Irving Berlin's What'll I Do
  • Albanian-born chart star Rita Ora - whose second album had to be postponed this year after she split from boyfriend and co-writer Calvin Harris
  • Folk trio The Staves, whose Bon Iver-produced second album is shaping up to be special
  • Mark Ronson with the hip-hop inspired Uptown Special, featuring lyrics by Pulitzer-winning author Michael Chabon and vocals from Stevie Wonder
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pete Doherty and Carl Barat are back in the studio

As well as new records from:

  • The Libertines
  • Brandon Flowers
  • Emeli Sande
  • De La Soul
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Imagine Dragons
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Kanye West
  • Charli XCX
  • Van Morrison
  • Sleater-Kinney
  • Fergie
  • Garbage
  • Gwen Stefani
  • Motorhead
  • Noel Gallagher
  • Marina and the Diamonds
  • Florence + The Machine
Image caption Bjork's art exhibition will feature "a narrative, both biographical and imaginatively fictitious," MoMA promises

Amongst other highlights of the year are a Bjork exhibition at New York's MoMA, which promises "sound, film, visuals, instruments, objects, costumes, and performance".

The project, which runs from March to June, culminates with a newly commissioned, immersive music and film experience - as well as the promise of a new album.

And finally, the year will end with a brand new Bond song.

Sam Smith is already being tipped to scream the theme, although the idea of Adele returning shouldn't be discounted.

The Foo Fighters, Muse and Beyonce could also provide the requisite pomp if she's unavailable. But whoever gets the job, we look forward to finding out how they shoehorn the word "Spectre" into the lyrics.

And that's true whether its on CD, download, vinyl, broadcast or stream.

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