For the music industry, 2010 was the year of Justin Bieber’s hair and Kanye West’s junk, of Lady Gaga’s meat dress and Katy Perry’s overflowing bikini, of Eminem’s recovery and Taylor Swift’s maturity. Two of the four major record labels had a change in leadership this year—Universal Music Group and EMI—and a new CEO for a third, Sony Music, is likely on the way early in the new year. The Beatles finally came to iTunes, just as the industry is attempting to shift from a download-to-own to a subscription fee for unlimited access digital business model. The touring industry collapsed, but book publishing was co-opted by bestsellers from artists like Keith Richards, Jay-Z, and Patti Smith who defined different musical eras and genres. Simply put, 2010 marked the year excitement returned to the music industry—even though the business is still busted, but at least this year wasn’t boring.
Peter Lauria is senior correspondent covering business, media, and entertainment for The Daily Beast. He previously covered music, movies, television, cable, radio, and corporate media as a business reporter for The New York Post. His work has also appeared in Avenue, Blender, and Media Magazine, and he's appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg, BBC Radio, and Reuters TV.