Predictions can be a tricky thing, but if we look at the trends in the music business over the last year we can see where things might be going. Here are 10 predictions for how the industry will fare in 2019.
1. Apple Music Nearly Catches Spotify
Spotify is still the king of the hill when it comes to streaming with 83 million paid subscribers, but Apple Music is coming on strong at 57 million at years end. Apple Music’s growth was significant in 2018, so look for the gap between the two streaming powerhouses to close even more in the coming year.
2. Tencent Music Makes Its Move
Now that Tencent Music had its more or less timid yet successful IPO, look for the company to set its eyes on acquiring more if not all of Spotify. Of course, this only happens if the market rebounds and tech stocks (especially music related ones) again become investor favorites. If not, look for an acquisition down the road. After all, the Chinese play a long game.
3. Smart Speaker Growth Is Kind To Amazon Music
Love them or hate them, smart speakers are here to stay and that market will grow even more in 2019. The biggest beneficiary of that has been Amazon Music, and the trend helps it even more, especially right after a holiday with big Echo sales and a boost in Prime memberships.
4. The Charts Mean Less And Less
Billboard has ruled the music world for more than 50 years and its charts have been the bible for artists and labels everywhere. That ceases in 2019, as the charts become more irrelevant and playlists (especially from the major streaming services) gain more influence.
5. Major Labels Lose Their Mojo
Once the dream of every artist, today’s artist is more likely to shun a major to go it independently, since so many of the benefits of a major can be had without actually signing to one. Indie and boutique labels continue to grow both in numbers and revenue as artists thrive in a more DIY world.
6. Streaming Services Remain Unprofitable
Almost all dedicated streaming services are very good at what they do except for one thing – making money. Choked by the weight of label licensing deals, these platforms struggle to find a way to become profitable, leading to a major market consolidation that begins in the new year.
7. Article 13 Brings YouTube Chaos
Be careful what you wish for, major labels, as YouTube is plunged into chaos following the passage of EU Article 13, which holds streaming platforms responsible for the files that their users upload. With YouTube (and other streaming platforms) having to purge so many videos, artists and labels take a big hit in revenue, but even worse, in exposure as well.
8. Artists Use Social Media For Promo Less
Many artists have relied on social media as a method of both growing and engaging their fan bases, but that changes in 2019 as the only way to large-scale engagement comes from paid promotion on the various social platforms. Many artists drop off because of principle – even more because of the cost. Instagram carries the load, at least for a while until it focuses more on revenue that users.
9. Live Music Legends Replaced By New Faces
The concert industry has long worried about what would happen after the 60s, 70s and 80s legends stopped touring, but a new crop of superstars prove that there are stadiums that they can fill. The live portion of the industry continues to grow despite higher ticket prices and perceived price gouging.
10. Streaming Changes Song Structure Even More
Over the last couple of years song structure has changed because of streaming, with fades giving way to beginning a song right on the chorus to hard endings. Now song length will be the next to change as artists make songs shorter. After all, it’s more profitable to have a fan listen twice instead of to only one longer song.
Trends don’t lie and many of the above will come to pass. It will be fun to look back at these predictions again this time next year.