The music industry is no stranger to trends. There are style trends, trends in the way we listen to music and trends in the technology that brings us music.
2021 will be no exception.
With December here, we are all looking forward to leaving 2020 behind for obvious reasons, but in addition to eliminating some negative energy, we can also face a future full of musical innovation. Here is some of what you can expect in the coming year.
The Way We Listen to Music
The pandemic has changed the world in so many ways and the way we listen to music is no exception.
It should come as no surprise that during the lockdown, streaming was bigger than ever. With fewer people going out to record stores, many chose to cut out the middleman and purchase the music available on their devices.
However, surprisingly enough, the vinyl industry is still alive and well. Already overtaxed with the unexpected demand that seems to have come out of nowhere in the 2010’s, the love for vinyl continues to flourish. People are ordering it online and visiting record stores to buy it when possible.
Given the current situation, both streaming and vinyl is expected to dominate for the foreseeable future.
Genres are Dissolving
There are a couple of reasons why genres may be a thing of the past.
For one, with more streaming services available and with more people staying home and streaming music, they are becoming more adventurous and branching out.
This more open-minded way of listening is enforced by the fact that many musicians are crossing genres. For instance, Lil Nas X has launched a successful career blending hip hop with country. Tyler the Creator is another artist known for taking similar risks.
However, there are certain styles that are dominating, whether in their true form or when blended with other styles. These include 80’s music, family friendly music and oldies.
The 80’s came back some years ago and no one seems to want to let them go. The 2000’s have been dominated by big hair, emphasized shoulder pads and neon skinny jeans. The heavily synthed, hallow beats have made a reprise as well and it is expected it will continue to have a stranglehold on musical styles.
Another genre that’s big right now is family friendly music. Because so many people are home with their kids, they are trying to be PG13 friendly and shy away from music that has offensive lyrics. No saying why Cardi B’s WAP is so popular!!!
Oldies music is also making a comeback. It is believed that these tunes from the past appeal to a sense of nostalgia and an escape from reality that is so needed right now.
With that in mind, new music is being checked out but many of the newer artists are making music with an old-timey feel.
Singles Instead of Albums
You may have noticed that many of your favorite artists are releasing singles instead of full albums.
Full albums are attached to the days of CDs and vinyl. Record companies released them as a money saving package. Releasing many songs at once saved on expenses of creating various products, coming up with artwork and it also made for cost effective ‘package time’ in the studio.
Now that the world is moving away from physical products, there is no need to create an entire album each time an artist puts out new music. This eliminates the pressure that comes with them writing an entire body of music and it makes it easier to for them to remain visible in the public eye.
Of course, CD’s are still a thing and vinyl is bigger than ever, but we may begin to see these formats becoming available in the form of singles and EPs as opposed to long players.
Festivals Rather Than Concerts
In today’s world of music, there is a lot of competition. With more genres than ever and more access to streaming services, artists have access to DIY strategies that can make them the next big thing without the help of a record label.
While these increased opportunities are great for artists struggling to make their way to the top, the competition makes it difficult for musicians and promoters to make any money. This is a real struggle for live music.
With so many of your favorites coming to town and with the high price of concert tickets, fans have to pick and choose who they want to see. As a result, it’s becoming harder for bands to pack stadiums and arenas.
The solution? Why festivals of course!
Today bands are teaming up to create huge festivals. With so many bands fans want to see, they will have no choice but to buy a ticket. What’s more, festivals are a great place to see and be seen and many hire vendors and even rent carnival rides to provide even more a vibe.
And even when bands aren’t touring on a festival bill, many of them are adding more bands to their bills to give fans more bang for the buck.
A Rebound in Live Music
There is no doubt that the pandemic took its toll on live music. But with a vaccine on the way, it’s looking like it will be back next year, and it may be bigger than ever. It is predicted that worldwide revenues will grow by 82.6% bringing in over $19 billion (USD).
A full recovery is expected to take place in 2022 and things will be on the upswing for the predictable future.
Tech Trends That are Taking Over
As technology grows in leaps and bounds, we can expect it to have a pronounced effect on the music industry. Here are some updates we can look forward to.
A Yearning for Nostalgia
The pandemic has increased a sense of nostalgia as people look towards the simpler times of the past. We have already seen a return in nostalgic styles of music and vinyl has made a big-time comeback as well. But 2021 may see the return of even more devices we thought we said goodbye to years ago.
Get ready to see a reappearance of first-generation iPods, Mp3s, cassettes, eight tracks and ghetto blasters.
Social Media Goes Downhill?
There is no doubt that social media has been a major vehicle for musicians connecting to fans. But now fans are getting tired of the constant ads, promotions and even personal messages. It’s all starting to get a bit spammy.
Instead, it is expected that the best bands will start growing a following based on good old-fashioned word of mouth. As such, bands will be doing what they can to stick out. Gimmicks will abound… and hopefully they will be accompanied by the talent to back them up!
And while social media may diminish as a strategy artists use to promote music to their fans, it will continue to inspire an organic connection. Platforms like Tik Tok allow users to discover music by browsing their vast library.
Social media for music discovery will be an ongoing trend with sites like Tik Tok, Instagram and Twitter bringing more new music into our lives. But the emphasis will be on making a natural connection as opposed to artists using salesy tactics for promotion.
A Boost in Suggestions and Searches
With so many artists putting out new music, it can be difficult to find out who is singing your favorite song. As such, users want to find songs, not only by searching up albums, titles and artists but by typing in a few lyrics or by humming a part of the melody.
To meet the demand, voice search functions available on Google Mobile may be combining with the advanced technology of Shazam to create a system that can identify music based on a few lyrics or notes.
And while it’s important to find your favorite artists, it’s also essential to be introduced to new ones. Platforms like Pandora, Slacker and MOG will be providing suggestions that turn on users to music they may enjoy.
Production over Consumption
Once it took a lot to make a recording. You had to go to a studio and spend thousands of dollars to get the music down. Then you had to spend even more money pressing the album and distributing it.
Now all that has changed. Platforms like Garage Band and Audacity can be purchased and used to record music whenever you like. Even though the end result may not sound as good as recordings done professionally in the studio, if you know what you’re doing, you could just release a gem.
As home recording becomes more accessible, you can expect a lot more people to be writing and recording music. In fact, there may even come a time when more people are producing music than listening to it.
Artist Specific Apps
With more people on their mobile devices, apps are taking over. If you’re looking for a great way to promote your music, why not create your own app?
All fans would have to do is download the app onto their phones. Then they would instantly have access to your music, videos, social media pages and upcoming news. While the app can be downloaded for free, music and merch will be for sale making this a good option for added income.
Artists specific apps are more imminent than they seem. They have been in the works at Apple Music for years.
Music Production Apps
And while apps can be used to promote music and make it more accessible to fans, they can also be used by on the go music producers. Here are some examples of what’s available now.
- Audiobus: Made for iOS builds, this app saves configuration of MIDI and audio streams. It is considered an essential Garage Band addition. It also has a simple mixer for input-audio levels.
- Caustic: The Android/iOS app has drum machines, synthesizers, effects, mix and master plugins and a song sequencer. It has an easy to use interactive display that allows for intuitive navigation with the analogue feel of an old school recording studio.
- dJay Pro: This app gives you a taste of what some of its larger systems can do. Made for Android and iOS, it provides a unique approach to remixing and mashups.
Streaming vs. Downloading
There is no doubt that streaming is taking over, but this trend is predicted to grow as more music will be provided in a streaming format, And more than that, streaming services will be available on more devices. This is already evident in the introduction of Rhapsody and Spotify for iPhone and Apples’ acquisition of streaming music service LaLa.
The transition to streaming means more people will be paying for services as opposed to paying by the track.
The Cloud vs. Hard Drives
No matter how much streaming evolves, some tracks simply will not be available on demand. Tracks that friends created, rare live tracks and songs from independent acts are just some examples.
But as users get used to listening to more tracks on demand, they’ll want their personal collections to be available on demand as well. This will eliminate the need for them to back up their music on an external drive of cell phone.
It is expected that services like iTunes will update to meet this demand serving as not only a platform for in demand music but also as a locker for songs accessed elsewhere.
Fidelity Vs. File Size
Once we transfer our music on to the cloud, we won’t have to worry about running out of space on our drives and devices. Many cloud services offer a good amount of storage for free and that’s likely to increase in accordance with demand. Along with the ability to store files, we will also be enjoying the higher quality of music that comes with it.
Tinder for Like Minded Fans
Do you ever yearn to have friends that you can share your musical experiences with? Research shows that there are people who would spend up to $1000 for this type of interaction.
And technology is going where the money is.
Almost like a Tinder for music fans, apps will be available that allow users to connect to people who share their taste in music. This can lead to musical conversations, mutual enjoyment of tunes and yeah, you guessed it…dating!
Virtual Music Experiences
While the pandemic has made live music almost impossible, it has opened the doors for performers to reach fans through virtual formats. This is a trend that is expected to continue, and, over time, we can the experience will become more realistic than ever.
We’ve come a long way from the headphones and tape players of yesterday. Fans are demanding music that is as lightweight and effortless to wear as possible. Earbuds are a favorite product that has generated billions of dollars.
Now Bose has come out with Wireless Bluetooth Sunglass Headphones. With an ability to protect your eyes and play cool tunes, you really can’t lose. And who knows what will come next?
The Innovation of TenCent
With streaming bigger than ever, there are more companies providing streaming services. TenCent is a company out of China that may just be a game changer for the entire industry.
The site offers livestream performances with virtual tip jars with a percentage of donations going directly to the site while the performers keep a larger share. Not only does this help artists generate income, it has also played a huge role in keeping TenCent afloat.
Whereas many streaming services struggle to get by, TenCent managed to bring in a $664 million revenue in 2019 alone with much of that coming off the commissions. Other income was sourced through advertising, downloads and subscriptions.
Artists can also make money by selling behind the scenes content or pre-releasing a streaming block from a new record.
TenCent also gives artists the option of adding an element of gamification to their promotional efforts. For instance, they can offer fans raffle tickets to win merchandise. They can also offer prizes to fans who bought their music most often with published leaderboards that add to the excitement.
Although TenCent is currently centered in China, it is rapidly expanding beyond its territory and its innovative spirit is promising to set music industry trends for years to come.
2021 is right around the corner and it is bringing new trends in the music we listen to, the way we listen to music and our music discovery. Which of these bandwagons will you be jumping on when you turn that calendar page?