Everyone knows the saying, “new year, new you,” but does that mantra apply to industries as well?
The Music business is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Less than ten years ago no one knew if consumers would embrace premium streaming platforms, and Less than five years ago the idea of communicating with a speaker in your home still sounded like something from The Jetsons.
2019 is shaping up to be just as wild as any year prior. Streaming is now the most popular way to access music, but there continues to be a demand for physical product. Smart speakers are helping people consume more material than ever, yet many fear the access those products give corporations into consumers’ private lives. There’s also an entire generation of music legends embarking on farewell tours, young acts trying to establish themselves as the next big thing, and an ever-present chance that someone no one in power has ever heard of will spring to the top of the charts thanks to a viral video, meme, or song stream.
We cannot and would not pretend to know what the future holds, but there are things we feel would benefit that could easily happen in the months ahead. Here are a few:
Fan clubs are back and more beneficial than ever.
In the dark age, otherwise known as the time before social media, fan clubs were the primary way consumers stayed connected to their favorite artists. For a low fee, often paid monthly, fans were granted access to exclusive content, pre-sales, and even music.
These days everyone has access to every artist they enjoy through social media. The problem is that open access can overrun artists’ lives. Between Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter it is very easy for an artist to spend all day responding to comments and messages. The engagement is nice, but as an artist’s popularity grows (and/or they begin to age) their time becomes more and more valuable.
There’s also a problem with exposure on social media. An artist can have 10,000 fans on either platform, but the number of people who see their updates is far less. The only way to guarantee reach is through paid promotions, and many in the industry are struggling to see the point of giving money to third-party services to reach their fans.
The solution to both of these issues is fan clubs. Anyone can choose to follow an artist on social media, but those who want direct access and knowledge of new developments can do so through direct support that benefits the artist and makes it easier for music to be their sole source of income. Artists, in turn, thank fans with exclusive announcement, chats, pre-sales, new music streams, merchandise, and anything else that comes to mind. Everyone wins!
Competition for booking grows as tribute bands gain popularity.
The legends of modern music have begun to leave the spotlight. Some have died, but others are choosing to retire. In the last year alone, Paul Simon, Ozzy Osbourne, Lynyrd Skynyrd, KISS, Slayer, Bob Seger, Elton John, and George Clinton have all announced or embarked upon farewell tours. The tickets for these shows are high, often starting at $100 or more, and the demand for those tickets is great.
The solution, both for fans and venues in need of talent alike, are tribute bands. The cost to book these acts is low, which means tickets are reasonable, and the target market is old enough to ensure strong beer and liquor sales.
This winter, Live Nation has begun promoting concert series in various cities featuring numerous tribute acts. Groups are covering classic bands like AC/DC (Thunderstruck) and Van Halen (Panama), as well newer groups such as Dave Matthews Band (Trippin’ Billies), Korn (Freak On A Leash), and The Beastie Boys (Imposters In Effect). There are even tribute bands for specific eras in music, such as Saved by The 90s, emo (The Emo Band), and the 80s (Power 80s).
Tribute bands make it possible for venues of all sizes to host events promoting the biggest hits of all time for a fraction of the price demanded by the original songwriters/performers. They also make it easy for people to have a night out with live music without taking risks on artists that might not entertain them. The only real losers are original acts.
Apple Music almost catches up to Spotify.
Spotify is the reigning champ of music streaming. For the last decade, no other premium streaming platform has been able to compete with the popularity of Spotify, but that could change in 2019.
Spotify ended last year with 83 million paid subscribers, but Apple Music is coming on strong at 57 million. Apple is also growing faster, perhaps due in part to its newness compared to Spotify. With rumors of an Apple video streaming service on the horizon, the tech giant is also expected to announce several updates to its music efforts as well. At the very least it’s likely a bundle for video and audio will be offered, which may be enough to convert subscribers away from the competition.
Streaming services become news outlets.
You knew where the latest John Mayer music video premiered? Spotify. You know where the latest Halsey video premiered? Apple Music. You know where you can see musicians speaking about their upcoming release directly to consumers? Apple Music and Spotify.
Between Spotify’s efforts to introduce original video content to consumers and Apple Music’s increased focus on editorials to accompany new releases, both streaming giants seem destined to tip their toes into the world of music news in 2019.
Think about consumption for a moment. Virtually everyone is accessing music through streaming services. Blogs still host premieres, of course, but the vast majority of consumers are hearing new songs for the first time through their preferred streaming platform. With that in mind, it makes sense that those services would also consider offering tour dates and other relevant information. That could be achieved by hiring writers or through further empowering artists. Either way, value would be added.
Charts matter less and less.
Billboard charts have been considered the best way to gauge the interests of the public for the last half-century. The charts have attempted to evolve with the times, introducing new rules that consider streams as sales, but the influence they carry in the music industry has begun to wane.
The new way to gauge popularity is playlists. After all, it’s the songs topping the Spotify and Apple Music charts that inevitably decide what tops Billboard. Streaming services have up to the minute information on the pulse of music culture. They know what’s going to be popular next before anyone else, so why should we continue looking elsewhere for information we can find ourselves with a few clicks on our phone or desktop computers?