At times it's felt as if 2016 has had nothing better to do than steal our legends. The year began with the death of David Bowie and hasn't got a lot better since. We've lost Prince, Maurice White, Lemmy, Glenn Frey, Vanity, Phife Dawg and George Martin, to name just a handful.

Obvious misery aside, though, the music scene in general has been pretty chipper across 2016 so far. Rick Astley's back after all, and there are many other things to cheer about...

1. Five of the 10 biggest artists in the world are British

While things might look a little dicey at home, globally a cadre of Brits are doing very nicely, thanks very much, according to a February-released report published by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Turns out that (surprise!) our Adele is the world's top-selling pop star, with Ed Sheeran runner-up. The rest of the big-hitting Top 10 is graced by One Direction, Coldplay and Sam Smith in a Brit-smash that leaves room for only two US artists - Maroon 5 and the ubiquitous Taylor Swift - and three Canadians: Justin Bieber, The Weeknd and Drake. Well done, Team UK; the future's safe in your hands.

2. We discovered Prince and Bowie were even greater than we realised

Heartbreaking farewells to Prince and David Bowie led to the standard surge in back-catalogue sales, each star dominating the charts for a few weeks post-mortem, but as grief subsided some remarkable facts emerged, enhancing already robust reputations.

With Bowie, it was his admirable stoicism in the face of cancer. He spent the 18 months between diagnosis and his eventual death working as hard as he'd ever done, collaborating on Broadway musical Lazarus, completing his own masterful sign-off Blackstar and making headway with a follow-up that we may well hear one day.

Prince had been beavering away in secret, too, in this case over his entire career. Stories cropped up about the charitable and humanitarian work he'd done in private. He'd set up a foundation to provide millions to schools and communities across the States, backed an environmental initiative, conceived and funded an organisation that helped underprivileged kids make an entrance into the tech industry, and even popped into his old school once or twice on a whim.

3. Beyoncé showed she's the boss of the surprise album

It's not as if we weren't prepared. Beyoncé's sixth album had seemed imminent for months, vying with Frank Ocean's Boys Don't Cry for Most Discussed Record That No One's Actually Heard, and yet she still managed to spring Lemonade on us in late-April, doing husband Jay Z a favour with a Tidal exclusive (but balancing the karma by implicitly dissing him throughout the album).

Beyoncé had repeated the trick she pulled with her self-titled 2013 effort, slapping a fully-formed, brilliant record on the internet with barely a moment's warning. Rihanna, her rival for pop's throne, endured a somewhat messier campaign with Anti, but it was equally great and still went platinum.

4. Radiohead's return was their most accessible in years

Radiohead have done the surprise thing before. Nowadays they give us - ooh - at least a week's notice, introducing ninth album A Moon Shaped Pool with, first, a social media blackout, then by releasing a couple of tracks in the days leading up to the full album coming out.

The first, Burn the Witch did two intriguing things: First, its video (above) was an entertaining, twisted parody of 1960s kids' animation Trumpton; second, hang on, you could hum its tune. The album, which was played in full on 6 Music on its release day, was called a stunning triumph and no wonder - mostly centred on a cerebral kind of jazz-folk, the album felt warm and open, ending with old live favourite, True Love Waits, finally in a home of its own. You could almost say they've mellowed.

5. At last, we may have found some future Glastonbury headliners

Music journalists and promoters have been getting angsty for years over whether any new band's ever going to become big enough to command the festivals of tomorrow, and with good reason. As Coldplay parachuted in to top the Glastonbury bill for the fourth time, it looked like the jig was up.

Florence + The Machine flew the flag for the younger generation in 2015, albeit as a late sub, and we have in Arctic Monkeys a bona fide crowd-puller, but they first headlined Glastonbury 10 years ago next year. Thank goodness then for The 1975, looking like world-beaters in waiting on the Other Stage, and Ellie Goulding and Foals creeping up the Pyramid Stage pecking order, poised.

6. Zayn proved there isn't just One Direction

[LISTEN] Zayn Malik interviewed by Clara in January about new single, Pillowtalk

He may have had a terrible time sorting uppercase and lowercase letters in the song titles on his album sleeve, but that didn't stop Zayn Malik scoring a notable triumph with Mind of Mine. As smouldering as a One Direction member was ever going to get, Zayn was always a cocked eyebrow too cool to stick with the boyband forever and he bailed to do his own thing before the other four "decided to take a break".

It's worked a dream. Crashing in at No. 1 here, the US, Australia, New Zealand and several other territories, Mind of Mine took 1D's pulling power with it. The only question is: is there enough of this residual affection to go round? Your move, Harry.

7. Chance the Rapper struck a blow for pure indie

[LISTEN] Chance the Rapper talks to Semtex at Reading, 2013

More than a decade after Arctic Monkeys enjoyed an almighty leg-up from the Internet, enterprising artists are still managing to make the business work for them on their own terms. Chicago's Chance the Rapper has taken a rather individual approach to his career so far, refusing to release what the old guard might consider a proper album, and chucking out mixtapes for free instead.

In May, he struck gold (or whatever gold is in a world of streams and free downloads). Chart boffins calculate some kind of sales figure out of oodles of streams (in the US, that's 1,500 streams per album sale), the upshot being Chance's Coloring Book made it to No. 8 on the Billboard 200 without a single copy sold and no label behind it. The Guardian promptly declared him "the world's first truly independent artist".

8. Live music's on the up

This one's about 2015, but the news was only announced in June: UK Music - lobbyists for the industry - say almost 30 million gig and festival tickets were sold in Britain last year, a 7 per cent hike on 2014 that's worth 3.7 billion quid in total. While sales of recorded music continue to decline and the labels strive to find a way - any way - to make decent business out of streams, it's encouraging to know there's an area that's still buoyant.

Mind you, there are still serious problems for ordinary fans in the live music sector...

9. Artists are fighting back against secondary ticketing

[WATCH] Highlights of Mumford & Sons' set at Radio 1's Big Weekend 2016

Punters have been stung by touts for years. In the olden days, that meant paying through the nose on a traffic island opposite the venue five minutes before curtain-up. Now it's all about discovering tickets for your favourite gig have sold out in 20 seconds because so-called 'white-collar touts' thought to be working on an industrial scale with sophisticated technology have scooped them up to sell at exorbitant prices on secondary ticketing sites.

The government have had a go at resolving this, but Professor Michael Waterson's report, which was published on 26 May, didn't go far enough for some. Now Mumford & Sons' manager Adam Tudhope has a petition on the boil demanding enforcement of the Consumer Rights Act, which directly addressed the secondary ticketing market last year, and he already has support from 44,000 signees, including Adele's manger, as well as Robbie Williams's and One Direction's. Perhaps this is the clout required.

10. The older guard have been having a terrific time of it lately

As the new breed vies for those coveted Glastonbury slots, let's not forget the stalwarts still capable of delivering the unexpected. When Martin Fry of ABC (or basically ABC all on his tod) launched Lexicon Of Love II - the wholly unexpected sequel to the 1982 classic - pop veterans were nervous, but with Anne Dudley back on strings it was a lush, romantic delight.

And that's not all. Paul Simon (above) bagged his first UK No. 1 album in 26 years with Stranger to Stranger; Rick Astley had his first in almost 29 years with 50 (who saw that coming?); and while The Monkees failed to do much chart-wise, they nonetheless released a corking comeback in Good Times with contributions from Paul Weller, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, XTC's Andy Partridge and Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard. Rude health abounds.

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