The music industry is one of exponential innovation. There’s no telling where we’ll be a year after I, Clarence, the Pop of Colour boy, write this post. Therefore, let me lay down a few of my wild predictions and educated guesses on the permanent internet, for us to all check back and judge how close or far from actual events I ended up.
Prediction #1: At least one major musical instrument retailer/luthier corporation is going to launch their new advertising campaign featuring women playing guitars.
While researching news for my late night show this past autumn, I discovered a study on American and British guitar players commissioned by Fender. One of the most interesting stats was the finding that 50% of beginner and aspirational guitar players are women.
I use “interesting” loosely; I I begun learning guitar in middle school. There seems to be no shortage of talented female artists on my local music scene. However, the commercial establishments have yet to catch up – think, instrument retailers that steer women towards beginners’ gear, or the only women on the cover of magazines aimed at guitarists being bikini-clad eye-candy, and likely can’t even play an open chord.
I predict that in 2019, at least one guitar manufacturer or music store will prominently and respectfully feature women, no longer a minority in their demographic, in their marketing campaigns.
Prediction #2: Publicists/PR firms are going to evolve into matchmakers, pulling on their vast network of industry connections.
A trend I’ve been seeing in a world of music blogs, in the two years I’ve been getting to know the writers and editors behind them, is that consistently high reader numbers are of extreme value. One way to achieve that is to be among the first to seek out and write about buzzing acts, instead of waiting for them to hire a publicity firm to then pitch to you.
Big league artists don’t need publicists to chase after the media, and smaller artists have limited promotional budgets that they feel could be best used marketing themselves directly to music fans via Facebook ads. As a result, PR agencies are going to feel like they are losing their relevance, and the drop in results will make it harder to justify their price.
I predict that the most savvy publicists are going to rebrand themselves into industry matchmakers. They’ll take clients under their wing, but instead of pitching them to the media like they would have before, they will pull on their vast industry contact list to introduce them to compatible connections, such as potential collaborators, producers, managers, and other industry experts in their niche.
Prediction #3: A big hip-hop single will have its beat entirely composed by AI.
Do you ever listen to the trap hit of the week, and wonder to yourself: ‘this beat is so basic, did the artist purchase it from a gum ball machine for $0.25?’ Well, with the advances in artificially intelligent music composition, the idea of buying a trendy hip-hop beat from a vending machine may not be science fiction for much longer.
I predict a big rap single to hit the charts in 2019 will feature a beat composed entirely by computers with very little human involvement.
Prediction #4: More marketing on Facebook will be aimed at the 65+ crowd
Young readers – have you ever felt the physical and mental agony that is watching the elderly get frustrated with a smartphone? From Grandma hitting the wrong keys from typing with one finger, to Great Uncle Bob swearing because he can’t figure out how to ‘flip the damn news page!’ – you want to just yank the phone from their hands and accomplish this simple (to you) task for them, if only to lower their heart pressure.
However, once they figure out how to get onto Facebook, they stay a while, engaging with photos of friends and family. Scrolling slowly down the newsfeed, they read everything, including ads.
I predict that in 2019, legacy acts, as well a musicians whose sound appeals to older audiences, will pour their marketing budget into Facebook advertising as a way to reach this silver, slow-scrolling, demographic.
Prediction #5: A major talent buyer will introduce a mobile ticketing app built on enterprise gamification concepts.
One of my most popular articles of 2018 was the one on Enterprise Gamification – taking the concept of video games as inspiration for artists to reward their most loyal fans. What if the concept could also be applied in the world of venues and promoters?
I predict that a major talent buyer (such as Live Nation) or venue is going to introduce a mobile app based on enterprise gamification concepts in an effort to crack down on ticket scalpers.
Prediction #6: International border regulations are going to make it more difficult for emerging artists to tour outside their home countries.
As many of you know, from reading my articles, watching my late show, or seeing pictures of me surrounded my snow, I live in Canada. The combination of small population, long distances, and six months of snow makes it extremely difficult for Canadian artists to tour year-round within our borders, and it’s considered an inevitable part stardom to move to a warmer climate with a denser population.
If you’ve been watching the news at all this year, you know that there are growing sentiments of “let’s take care of ourselves first” in many countries across the world. Going forward, some may not want to hand over work visas to foreign artists, preferring to foster their own music culture.
I predict that the most savvy indie musicians will find ways to spin supporting their work as patriotism to their local fans, and generate much national success in the form of government grants and fan loyalty doing so.
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Prediction #7: Twitter will evolve into an informal LinkedIn for artists.
When I say LinkedIn, I don’t mean a place to upload resumés. Imagine a cross between LinkedIn and ReverbNation. I predict there will be fewer fans on the platform, but more interaction between fellow artists, and it will become considered professional to talk to DM media and other industry professionals on Twitter.
Prediction #8: At least one DAW will introduce “.bc” files in their latest update.
When I released my article on Blockchain Technology for songwriters this past June, I knew that a few major performing rights organizations had already invested in the concept. A few months ago, Warner Music announced their partnership with Dot Blockchain Media.
I predict that within the next year, at least one major digital audio workstation (my tentative guess is Pro Tools, as they are best known for their work with live instruments) will unveil the ability to bounce .bc files (as opposed to .wav files) with their latest software update.
Prediction #9: Artists websites are going to be one page long.
For those of you who have Google Analytics installed on your website, you know how it shows how long the average users stays on a page? It’s also called the bounce rate. While the innermost workings of Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remain a mystery, it has been confirmed that the longer a visitor stays on a webpage, the more “relevant and valuable” the algorithm sees the page’s content. This was put in place to reward thorough journalism, and punish clickbait. The one downside to this set-up is that pages without much content on them will be read quicker, and bounced off of, potentially punishing a legitimate site owner.
I predict that in 2019, we will see a growing trend of artists whose official websites are one page long, with all their information there (as well as a hidden press kit for the industry). Instead of separate, short pages for bio, photos, discography, contact form, etc… It will all be in one place, keeping fans put longer and not accidentally penalizing the artist.
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Prediction #10: Major labels are going to increase their visual branding.
One of the biggest factors to play a part in the rise of the independent artist is the advancements of DIY recording technology. Because being able to afford studio rates used to be so expensive, only a signed artist could afford to release music. Nowadays that there is no barrier to SoundCloud uploads, and very few to Spotify, labels’ rosters are seen as a sign of their excellent curation and taste, not simply investments.
Major labels now have a lot in common with high-end fashion designers. Expertly crafting their finished product with the finest raw materials, as a status symbol, not just a piece of apparel. Like a handbag company beginning to let name recognition go to their head, they have started adding their logos to the product (take a look at the bottom of some major label artists’ music videos – the label’s logo is now in the corner).
I predict that there will be an increase in visual branding on the part of their record labels with their artists in the coming year; on promotional graphics, in videos, and any other place they can remind music fans who the designer is.
2019 is fast approaching. Let’s check back next December to see what came true and what did not. Happy New Year!