Making predictions is always risky business. Nobody really knows what to expect in a year (or 10), but we all like to guess. I would like to forewarn you that I could be completely wrong with these predictions, but they represent my best guesses.
According to MIDiA Research, 2016 was the year of the video. Video dominated all forms of social media and took music farther than it has ever gone. Quickly, bands and brands are catching on to the rise of video and adapting to maximize every video’s social reach.
At the same time, I would argue that streaming services were really brought to an apex this year with the release of Apple Music. Millions of people who were already using iTunes suddenly had access to a streaming service that was built-in to their phone.
Now, I know more people streaming their music than not. And I certainly can’t blame them, it’s awesome. It’s not a bad thing for the industry either; while royalties remain well under 0.7 cents/spin, at least money is being made.
Inevitably, things will change and evolve. Here are my predictions.
Music Marketing Prediction 1: Spotify Will IPO And New Streaming Services Will Emerge
It’s widely expected that Spotify will IPO in 2017. They are apparently aiming for the second quarter. There has been widespread debate over whether Spotify will live up to it’s $8 billion evaluation.
A poorly performing Spotify IPO could shake the confidence in the entire streaming market. Researchers speculate that this could curb the “grow-at-all-costs” model in favor of personalized services that make more money.
However well it does or doesn’t do, Spotify going public surely means there will be room for other streaming services to move in and build upon its success.
Some of Spotify’s best and most popular features are its algorithms that make it a personalized experience. Other streaming services will take this concept and run with it. Perhaps inserting music catered to our tastes into various parts of our lives.
New streaming services rise and fall in popularity (for example TIDAL), but I firmly believe there is room in the market for a services that really break ground.
Music Industry Prediction 2: Record Labels Will Still Rule The Industry Despite What Everyone Says
If you go poking around the internet looking for music trends and predictions for next year and years past, you’ll read over and over again about the death of major labels. You’ll read about the rise of the indie artist. You’ll read comments telling you never to sign with a label.
In my opinion, this is nonsense from people who do not know what they are talking about.
With the rise of digital streaming, record labels are once again a major power, and while they are not making as much money as they made selling albums, they are making more money than anybody else on streaming.
Quietly, the big three record labels have bought stakes in most of the major streaming services. 10 to 20% of Spotify and Rdio are owned by the major labels (collectively). Often, they buy these shares at a discounted price, and buy more later and at a further discounted price.
Everything from Interlude to Shazam is owned in part by the major labels. Forbes estimates that the major labels have secured positions in digital streaming companies worth around $3 billion.
If you’re still under the impression that labels do not hold sway in today’s music industry, think again. Labels are clawing back towards a position of power, and it’s going to be hard to stop them.
That said, indie artists have more power than ever before. In 2017, you can literally do everything yourself – create, release, tour, sell merch, and even become a successful artist. All I’m saying is that the industry is not as cut and dry as many assume.
Prediction 3: Ticketing Will Become Way Easier
With the advent of more affordable (and less terrible) ticketing companies comes innovation in the industry that we haven’t seen thus far. Presently, buying concert tickets is the same as lining up for them, except that you do it in front of a screen and it’s possibly more frustrating.
As artists, promoters, and venues continue to advertise heavily on social media, the ability to buy tickets to a show without leaving the page will become mainstream.
Already, startups like Shopify are making immersive shopping experiences more common. The rise of Apple Pay will add to the need to make easy ticketing possible.
Soon, the chain of events will be as follows: discover show on social media or website > click “Buy Tickets” > tap one Touch ID enabled (or similar) button > get tickets. Beautiful!
Prediction 4: Music And Virtual Reality Will Begin To Mesh
In 2016, virtual reality still seemed like science fiction, but was brought much closer to fruition with products like Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard.
In fact, VR made huge leaps towards the mainstream consumer this year. Many major centres now have virtual reality arcades and virtual reality apps for your smartphone are readily available.
Virtual reality has many implications for the music industry – and not just in the way the music is used in video games. Not only will music be a huge part of VR games, but it will become a major selling point for VR, period.
Jaunt, a hugely-funded music tech startup, basically makes virtual reality concert DVDs. It came to the spotlight in 2014 when it made a live Paul McCartney concert available in VR with a choice of either onstage or front row seats.
Imagine the potential for artists with huge brand power to leverage virtual reality experiences and sell them to fans. It’s huge, it’s here, and it’s becoming more and more lifelike every day.
Prediction 5: People Will Still Make Great Music, Everyday
Despite massive advances in music technology and shifts in the music industry, there will still be people like you and I who just like to play music.
Sure, I like to see my career grow and I like to talk about how to make a great career in a wonderful industry. Ultimately, the goal is to make great music and that’s exactly what people will do in 2017.
I don’t know why, but I feel like it’s going to be a good year.