The year may be 2020, but foresight in an industry as wild as the music business certainly isn’t. Your colourful internet music business nerd is back again to present his 10 Music Industry Predictions for 2020…
PREDICTION #1 – More signed artists will demand ownership of their masters.
Say what you want about Taylor Swift (heaven knows I do), but you cannot deny she’s a gifted communicator. While the phenomenon of a signed artist getting the short stick when it comes to control of their masters is nothing new in the music industry, Taylor Swift used her genius marketing skills to bring her record deal woes to the public light, and explain to the everyfan why they should care.
I would not be surprised if every signed artist or indie with a record deal being offered to them in 2020 inquires about master ownership.
PREDICTION #2 – Record labels will go out of their way to show how good they are to their roster.
On the other side of this coin… With all the bad press record labels have gotten this past year, they are now in a position where, for maybe the first time ever, they need to remind artists why they still need to sign with them.
Well, since it’s easier to attract flies with honey than vinegar, I bet you’ll be seeing lots of labels – major and indie – craft their public socials to showcase how well treated the artists on their roster are, and how helpful signing a life changing contract was to their career.
PREDICTION #3 – Patreon will revamp its offerings to musicians on their platform.
Isn’t it strange that while the co-founder of Patreon, Jack Conte, is a singer-songwriter, this subscription based crowdfunding platform doesn’t appeal to musicians as much as other creatives (music making isn’t even a top #5 category, last I checked)?
My theory as to why this is is because Patreon requires regular exclusive content, something that is hard to keep up with at a high quality if artists are using recorded songs as an incentive for fans to subscribe.
Whether it be the unveiling of new, musician oriented features, or webinars from Jack himself, I think 2020 will see Patreon overcome this hurdle, helping indie musicians the internet over.
PREDICTION #4 – A major music magazine will shut down.
When was the last time you read a music magazine? When was the last time their album reviews were anything other than fluff written to attract artist interviews? Uh huh.
PREDICTION #5 – Facebook Messenger bots will “replace” email lists in the eyes of artists.
Many indie artists have trouble maintaining and growing a traditional, high quality email list. With Facebook releasing its Messenger API for pages to use, under strict guidelines, many indie artists will probably take to Messenger bots over the next year, seeing them as more straightforward and effective.
PREDICTION #6 – Dropshipping merch will become more and more commonplace.
Dropshipping, commissioning a facility to print merch on demand and send it to your fans upon order, has begun to gain popularity with non-touring musicians in the last few years. It’s easy to see why many artists enjoy not having to store their entire merch inventory in their bedroom closet.
In 2020, I predict that this form of merch creation will become mainstream, with a handful of musicians in every city relying on dropshipping at their main source of merch.
PREDICTION #7 – Big investment firms will buy music catalogs en masse.
Back in the days of physical record stores, music had a shelf life… literally. Old records got moved to the bargain bin. If a new LP flopped upon release, it got pulled off the shelves to make room for newer, more exciting stuff. Your mall record store didn’t have the square footage to hold every piece of music ever released… So why would it burden itself with products that don’t sell?
Fast forward to now, one of the wonderful side effects of the streaming era is that any music fan can access all the music they want from any point in time… There is no limited shelf space to compete for. This means that an artist can win over new fans with old music and new alike, it’s all content, and fair game for any opportunity it fits (for example: synch licencing, publishing, remixes, etc).
Following this line of thinking, this means that the “average” artists’ back catalogs are worth much more than they used to be – there are potential royalties to be collected and opportunities to be found in any song, not just famous ones (Michael Jackson bought The Beatles’ song catalog in 1985). So then, if an artist is not their own publisher, they could very well see their own songs being bought and sold by non music investors (and firms), just like any other potentially appreciating asset – real estate, the stock market, etc..
PREDICTION #8 – An artist will launch their own cryptocurrency.
Last year, I wrongly predicted that a major music DAW would integrate Blockchain technology into their file export feature. Didn’t happen. Maybe the potential I see is too ahead of its time? Ah well, I haven’t given up.
So let’s take this in a different direction – in 2020, an artist (probably in a boundary pushing, tech friendly genre like hip-hop or electronica) will launch their own cryptocurrency in order to track fan purchases across the net and build loyalty.
PREDICTION #9 – At least one major music industry player will get #MeToo’ed.
The dam broke open in Hollywood. Then, brave people on TV news came forward. While Kesha’s legal battles and certain isolated cases (a label head in 2019) have been in the news, I predicted that in 2020, a major music player (CEO level) will be cancelled… and in court.
PREDICTION #10 – Psychographics will be used for single marketing online.
Did you follow the Facebook x Cambridge Analytica story in the news over the last few years? I for one was absolutely mesmerized.
So then, if a digital marketing firm such as Cambridge Analytica can interpret the state of mind of social media users via their actions, and be able to micro target people whose opinions they believed they could way (which worked in the case of Brexit and the 2016 US election), why can’t we, as artists, use the same tactics for good?
For example, if I released an empowerment anthem style pop song, wouldn’t it be next freaking level to plop it into the newsfeed of someone who’s online behaviour indicate they are having a rough week? We as human beings associate music to different periods of our lives – the soundtrack of senior year, our wedding song, the song from that vacation… This could work!
And I’ll put myself out on the line and predict the smartest artists of 2020 will make themselves soundtracks to fans who didn’t know they needed them.
Thank you so much for reading! Please reach out if you spot any of these predictions come to life!
Colourfully Yours, Clarence