You don’t need to be told that the music industry has changed quite a bit. Of course, this is hardly surprising news. After all, this is a sector that transforms and evolves along with the times. Despite this, there is no denying that the deviations that have taken place over the last few years feel…different.
In fact, it can be argued that the once thriving giant now feels like just a shell of its former self. If you are curious about just how much the industry can change over the next decade or so, here are some predictions that may turn out to be spot on.
The Evolution of Record Labels
For the last few years, people have been predicting the death of record labels. This is a natural reaction, of course. While these companies were once the beginning and the end of the music industry, their hold over artists and fans alike have declined in recent years. So, does this mean that it’s time to bury these in the ground once and for all?
Well, while it would appear that this is the direction things are headed in, you shouldn’t count record labels out just yet. This is because they are evolving with the times. See, in the early days, the companies would find a diamond in the rough, sign a deal, and then polish that artist up until they shone.
These days, though, the labels aren’t making nearly as much of an investment. Rather than trying to uncover hidden talent, they are simply raising popular independent artists to new heights. These days, unsigned artists can amass a following of hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers thanks to social media.
This has left record labels with the unique opportunity to scan the social media music scene and discover who is making a splash. Once they have found someone that seems like a sure winner, they swoop in and offer them a deal.
Thanks to these tactics, it does appear that major record labels may be able to hold on for a little while longer.
The Decline of the Superstar
Sure, if you had to, you could still name a handful of music superstars. Beyoncé, Jay Z, Rihanna, and Drake would probably pop into your mind if you had to list people who are legends in the music industry. Despite this, you would be hard pressed to find anyone whose reputation was still guaranteed within the music industry.
These days, even with powerhouses like Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and Taylor Swift, their successes aren’t assured. Their popularity ebbs and flows with music releases, relevancy, and more. So, while they may have enormous followings, people are prone to turn their backs on even these beloved stars.
Not to mention, the modern music audience is constantly craving something new, unexpected, and cutting edge. Thus, they tend to get bored with standard themes and faces rather quickly. If artists aren’t able to evolve and cater to popular demand, they will ultimately fade or, at the very least, diminish.
So, as time moves on, it will be more common to see artists who have their 15 minutes of fame and then fade from the spotlight. While a few of the legends may endure, it is unlikely that they will return to their former glory. Such is the nature of the times.
Indie Music Goes Mainstream
For the longest time, indie music was on the fringe of the music scene. After all, that’s how it was supposed to be. In many ways, the indie or alternative genre was supposed to be a direct contrast to the music industry as a whole.
Indie music was given a serious boost, though, with the meteoric rise of social media. Suddenly, independent artists weren’t resigned to playing at open mic nights’ in small coffee houses anymore. Instead, they could build their own personal following from the comfort of their own home and with a little help from music-based sites like TheMusicPal.
This meant that a lot more people were able to discover them relatively easily. When you add this to the fact that most people clamor for something new these days, it’s a match made in heaven. Of course, there is no guarantee that things will continue in this manner.
However, if indie continues to be at the forefront of charts and streaming services, it just might earn a new identity among its peers.
Chart Numbers May Not Mean as Much
Just a few years ago, artists anxiously watched their songs on the charts. Even rising one spot could mean everything while a minor decline could spell disaster. While behemoths like Billboard are still putting out these numbers, the question that needs to be asked is – do they mean anything?
Well, there is a good chance that people will stop looking at such charts as a barometer for what is popular or successful. This, of course, is largely due to streaming music. Since this is how a majority of people are accessing music, it has changed the landscape, including the rating process, as a whole.
Added to this is that quite a few musicians have learned to game the streaming system. They are able to, by design, ensure that people end up listening to most of their album, pushing songs to number one spots. However, these end up becoming poor predictors of a song’s or an artist’s actual popularity among the public.
Vinyl and Streaming: The New Juggernauts
Another thing to look at is how people are – and will continue to – listen to their music. While streaming is undeniably one of the more common ways to listen to music these days, it isn’t exactly profitable. In fact, Spotify was only just able to turn a profit in 2019 and this is the platform that is supposed to be leading the charge!
So, while streaming services are definitely the future of the music industry, it isn’t the only major player around. Interestingly enough, vinyl sales have been holding steady over the last few years. At first, everybody assumed that it was the Millenials love of all things nostalgic, but it appears that vinyl has some serious staying.
Of course, it is unlikely that it will ever reclaim its former glory. Instead, there is a much better chance that streaming and vinyl will be partners in the future. People will opt for their streaming services when they are out and about. However, when it comes time to relax at home, they will probably turn on their record players.
Greater Diversity in the Music Industry
As far as diversity and equality go, there is no denying that the music industry is still seriously behind the times. However, there are signs that it is quietly making progress in this category – even if it isn’t necessarily for the right reasons.
For instance, Latin music is now the fifth-most popular genre in America. It is even ahead of country music! These days, more and more Latin artists are breaking into the music scene, often with songs that are entirely composed in Spanish.
Furthermore, there is also an impressive rise in the number of female artists dominating the industry. There are familiar faces like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Pink, and Alicia Keys. However, there has also been a significant boost of popularity for artists like Ariana Grande, INNA, Billie Eilish, and Bebe Rexha.
There is a good chance that the landscape may continue to diversify even further. Audiences are constantly looking for something new and innovative. Due to this, they are more open to different music sources, both local as well as international.
The Mixing of Genres
Less than a decade ago, you could listen to a song or an artist and place them in a specific genre quite easily. These days, however, it isn’t quite so simple. In fact, it can be argued that the lines between genres are more blurred than ever. So much so that they are giving birth to entirely new categories.
Now, this is taking place for a number of reasons. For one thing, people are trying to stay fresh and constantly upgrade their music and personas in one way or another. Interestingly, switching to another genre or borrowing certain elements has proven to be a rather useful strategy.
What has also helped genres to be less identifiable is collaborations. Once upon a time, most artists tended to collaborate with people within the same genre. Even if they did step out of their comfort zone, it often wasn’t by much.
Now, diverse collaborations are welcome. As people become more open to newer types of music, they are more accepting of “mismatches”. Not to mention, people aren’t as loyal to their chosen genres as they once were. This means that they are more comfortable listening to something that is original or unusual.
There is no denying that the music industry will certainly be evolving over the next few years. Nonetheless, regardless of the direction it takes, the end result is sure to be unexpected and interesting.