The music industry is broken.
That became pretty clear when we went 10 months into 2014 without any albums going platinum aside from the "Frozen" soundtrack. (Taylor Swift's "1989" changed that in one week of sales.) Something is wrong when Beyoncé's well-received, critically acclaimed "Beyoncé" album can't score any radio hits, but Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" gets hyped by iHeart Radio's 840 stations, who played the song a minimum of 150 times in a six-week period. Despite all that airplay, Azalea's "The New Classic" still didn't break into the Top 40 albums of 2014 in sales. Wanting to create new stars instead of supporting established ones has always been a music industry issue, but it seems that now the search is on for multi-threat artists, rather than pop stars. Luckily, 2015 seems to have plenty of those artists on deck.
Here's a look at who (and what) to look out for in 2015:
LONDON SOUL The growing group of like-minded U.K. musicians had a breakthrough year in 2014, thanks to Sam Smith and Disclosure. Mary J. Blige tapped into it with her "London Sessions" album, but more is on the way. Mark Ronson and his collaborators, including Bruno Mars, have "Uptown Special" on its way next month. Emeli Sande is expected to drop her follow-up to "Our Version of Events." And there's a new album expected from that little-known underdog named Adele.
SPOTIFY REVAMP Taylor Swift's decision to pull her albums from the world's biggest music subscription service kicked up so much controversy that it seems Spotify has to answer the concerns that she and her supporters raised. Look for the service to come up with some sort of compromise, allowing artists to offer some or all of their music to Spotify subscribers -- but not to those who use the service's free, ad-supported service. Artists may also want a higher royalty rate for songs streamed by paying subscribers than for those streamed on the free service. Or, you know, there could be an exodus to Apple's Beats Music service.
RITA ORA To many, the British singer is simply Iggy Azalea's pal from the "Black Widow" single, but next year she will move toward super stardom on multiple fronts. Ora will release her American debut early next year, featuring the current single, "I Will Never Let You Down," and she is set to star in the movie adaptation of "Fifty Shades of Grey," due out on Valentine's Day, of course.
MATTHEW KOMA After another strong year of co-writing and singing on other people's singles, the Seaford native is ready to release an album of his own in 2015. Koma has already sung on EDM smashes like "Spectrum" with Zedd and "Wasted" with Tiesto, as well as co-writing Zedd's "Clarity," but his debut album will be more eclectic, with his rock roots showing as much as his success with dance and pop.
MADONNA She gave the world an early holiday surprise with six songs from her upcoming "Rebel Heart" album -- including collaborations with Nicki Minaj and Kanye West, and an uplifting dance anthem "Living for Love" as an opening single. But there's even more excitement about a potential world tour next year to support the new album and to mark the 30th anniversary of her "Virgin Tour."
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FARMBOROUGH Manhattan's first country music festival will not only bring headliners Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley and Luke Bryan to Randalls Island June 26-28, but also a great undercard from legends like Dwight Yoakam to newcomers like best new artist Grammy nominee Brandy Clark and Maddie & Tae.
GEORGE EZRA The British sensation will finally make his way across the pond, releasing his debut, "Wanted on Voyage," in America on Jan. 27. The album, which hit No. 1 for two weeks in the United Kingdom, features Ezra's catchy single "Budapest" and more of his breezy mix of Mumford & Sons and Paul Simon.
TRACKVERTS Shakira teamed up with Activia for hers. The BBC rounded up everyone from Queen to One Direction to Coldplay for theirs. And Meghan Trainor worked with HP for hers. They're called "trackverts" -- song-length videos that double as advertisements through branding in the video and sponsorship of the production -- and there's going to be way more of them in 2015, as it gets tougher and tougher to get regular airplay on the radio. Through a trackvert, a company gets its product placed in a cool setting, and the artist gets the single repeatedly in front of a massive audience.
U2 Though the rollout of its "Songs of Innocence" album was a little bumpy, you can bet that it will all be straightened out by the time they hit the road with the "Innocence + Experience" tour. The tour, which will have an "Innocence" night and an "Experience" night in each city, launches in Vancouver in May and hits Madison Square Garden for six nights in July.
FOREIGN BOY BANDS The search is on for the next stadium-filler like One Direction. Will it be Australia's 5 Seconds of Summer, who already have two nights set at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in September? The Aussies also have Sheppard, whose "Geronimo" has been getting a big push. However, the Brits, who know a thing or two about creating Beatlemania-like frenzies, have Rixton and Lawson. Let the screaming begin!
Feb. 8 Grammys (CBS)
April 19 Academy of Country Music Awards (CBS)
Aug. 30 MTV Video Music Awards
November American Music Awards (ABC)
November CMA Awards (ABC)