While the previous three years have had some no-brainer biggest stories (sadly because of the massive amounts of human life lost in 2015 and 2017 two major terrorist attacks that directly affected the music industry and music fans), 2018 didn’t necessarily have a can’t-miss biggest story. While the passage of the Music Modernization Act is mostly confusing and won’t move the needle for a lot of music fans, it could have the biggest impact of any music news story of 2018. Besides this groundbreaking accomplishment (a rarity in today’s gridlocked governmental mechanisms), there were other big stories that won’t be soon forgotten. Take a look at our list below.
10. AEG Tries and Fails to Revive FYF
This passed year rocked FYF, after its founder Sean Carlson was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. Although the festival’s parent company Goldenvoice had purchased the rest of Carlson’s stake, the festival’s fate became unclear. Although the company was adamant in continuing the fest in 2018; poor ticket sales caused the fest’s cancellation. A mediocre lineup stacked with artist’s who tour Los Angeles constantly, alongside the 2017 Festival’s costs, likely caused the poor sales. Unfortunately My Bloody Valentine, Janet Jackson and Florence + The Machine, couldn’t match the anticipation brought by Bjork, Frank Ocean and Nine Inch Nails in 2017.
– Aaron Grech
9. Mac Miller Dies Of An Accidental Overdose at Age 26
The hip hop community was shocked by the passing of Mac Miller at the age of 26. Although an accomplished solo artist in his own right, Miller was a major figurehead in the current LA hip hop scene (though he was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA), working with a slew of West Coast rappers such as Vince Staples, Earl Sweatshirt and Ab-Soul. His mixtapes Macadelic and Faces pushed his music into more psychedelic territory, while developing him as a lyricist. Yet Swimming serves as Miller’s most personal work, mixing in the neo-soul sounds of his LA home while he laments about his failed relationship with Ariana Grande.
– Aaron Grech
8. Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries Dies at Age 46
The Cranberries may have reached their peak of influence in the ’90s, but they were still a very active and relevant group in the alternative music world. The death of their lead singer Dolores O’Riordan came as a major shock, as she was only 46 years old. Her cause of death was officially ruled to be accidental drowning in a bathtub, caused by alcohol intoxication. Her powerful voice and strong Irish accent helped make songs like “Zombie” and “Linger” some of the most memorable tracks of the ’90s alt-rock explosion. Following her death, the public outreach to her death was powerful, including $250,000 of proceeds from alt-metal band Bad Wolves’ cover of “Zombie” going to cover expenses for her family.
– Matt Matasci
7. Finally Some Real Movement on a New Tool Album
Tool fans must be some of the most patient people in the world. For over a decade, they’ve been waiting for the follow up to 2006’s 10,000 Days. There have been plenty of teases and false starts over the years, plus albums by A Perfect Circle and Puscifer to semi-quell those fan’s tastes, but most want the real thing. Well, 2018 wasn’t the year that the new album finally came out, but it did produce some new Tool music (in the form of a backing track to a teaser for an immersive clinic hosted by Justin Chancellor, Danny Carey and Adam Jones. Then of course there was that day in July when Google tricked fans into thinking a new Tool album had been surprise-released, only to be massively crushed to discover it was an album by a Soundcloud rapper — likely the type of music that would make a Tool fan cringe in disgust. By all accounts, 2019 will probably be the year we get a new Tool album. Probably.
– Matt Matasci
File Photo: Mauricio Alvarado
6. System of a Down Members Squash Possibility for a New Album
A band that probably shares quite a few fans with Tool is System of a Down. Another trait they share is the lack of new music in over a decade (2015 for SOAD). While the band members still remain friends and continue to maintain a robust tour schedule, they simply cannot agree on a direction for a follow up to the twin release of Hypnotize and Mezmerize. In an interview, guitarist and principal songwriter Daron Malakian indicated that lead singer Serj Tankian simply wasn’t that interested in creating new metal songs. In a subsequent interview, Tankian confirmed that sentiment and took much of the blame for the lack of new music. It appears that we may have seen the last new music from System of a Down.
– Matt Matasci
File Photo: Alyssa Fried
5. The Smashing Pumpkins Return with (Most of) Their Classic Lineup
A reunion between mercurial lead singer Billy Corgan and the members of The Smashing Pumpkins’ classic era lineup has been teased for some time. 2018 is the year it finally, really happened and the results were surprisingly strong. While, for reasons that really only Corgan and bassist D’Arcy Wretzky know, she was not invited back to the reunion. However guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain did join back on, with the band embarking on a massive world tour and even releasing a new album together, called Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.
– Matt Matasci
Simple Plan playing a set on the final run of Vans Warped Tour – File Photo: Mehreen Rizvi
4. The Final Year of The Vans Warped Tour – Saying Goodbye to a Punk Institution
For decades, The Vans Warped Tour has stood as a pillar for punk rock. While its lineups gradually shifted away from its initial offerings of So-Cal skate punk bands like Pennywise and NOFX towards more fashionable genres like metalcore, it always maintained a punk rock spirit. Hundreds of bands have played this traveling festival and its influence on musicians and music fans alike is simply immeasurable. The festival had begun to experience falling ticket sales, making the decision to call it quits (at least in the current format) a logical choice for founder Kevin Lyman. With the final show of the final tour concluding with Pennywise performing a sing-along of “Bro-Hymn,” there could be no more fitting end.
– Matt Matasci
3. Kanye West’s 2018 – The Good, The Bad and The Bizarre
Kanye West had, arguably, the most eventful year of his entire career. His Wyoming sessions saw some of his most prolific output since the Twisted Fantasy days in 2010, producing albums for himself and his joint project with Kid Cudi, along with albums for Pusha-T, Nas and Teyana Taylor. While most of these albums received rave reviews, West made just as many headlines for his actions outside of the studio. West met with President Trump to discuss prison reform and secure the release of one person from prison, made controversial statements on TMZ about how 400 years of slavery “sound[ed] like a choice” and sparked beef with student-turned-pro Drake over his verse on Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.” Despite his name appearing in the headlines more often than not (and possibly for the wrong reasons), West “feel[s] stronger than ever” because of this year and is hoping to continue this into 2019.
– Francisco Martinez
2. The Grammy’s Equality Problem
The Grammy’s faced controversy this year after a lack of female nominations, and then when all but one award was given to a male artist. When questioned about this, the Grammy President Neil Portnow told women that they need to “step up” in the music industry. This comment resulted in even more controversy, and many called for Portnow to step down. In response to the backlash, the Grammy’s decided to create a gender bias task force, headed by Times Up co-founder Tina Tchen, and they inducted 928 new members, with 49% of them being female, and 38% being people of color.
– Caitlin Wills
1. Music Modernization Act Is Signed Into Law
The Music Modernization Act may have been overlooked by many this year, but it was absolutely one of the most important developments in the music industry in 2018. The bill is comprised of three major components: an improved music-licensing process, compensation for works prior to 1972, and increased royalty payments to producers and engineers from SoundExchange. The music licensing process will improve due to the implementation of a mechanical licensing database. This database will be paid for by streaming services and ultimately run by publishers and songwriters. Also works from 1972 and prior will finally be awarded with royalties. Lastly, producers and engineers will see a larger cut of royalties from performances on satellite radio. Overall, the act helps the musician and makes one hope that this is just one step in a positive direction for the industry. The law was officially signed into law in October after passing the Senate with a unanimous vote in September.
– Griffin Boyle