|The music industry is no stranger to changes, and this New Year will also likely bring new challenges that artists and personalities will also have to deal with / Photo by: The Austinot via Flickr|
The music industry is no stranger to changes, and this New Year will also likely bring new challenges that artists and personalities will also have to deal with. Before jumping to the 2020 predictions for the industry, let’s take a look back at how 2019 did.
Trends of 2019: Streaming and the Record Market
In an article by Music Ally, a website that brings monthly insight reports in the music industry, it was listed that the most positive trends of 2019 “were the figures coming out of markets that were either slow to benefit from the streaming upswing or those that have experienced bumps along the way.”
One of the better growth from 2018 to 2019 was the French recorded market, for instance, which grew from 1.8% in 2018 to 12.7% in the first half of 2019. Germany’s was weak-performing in 2018 but grew in the first half of 2019 by 7.9%. Spain also improved from 2018 to the first half of 2019, with a growth of 5.9% to 27%.
There’s also significant growth from other territories like Latin America, China, India, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Stu Bergen of the Warner Music Group said in April that this growth can continue if stakeholders are more active in anticipating “the needs of the market and the changes in the market and to serve your audience and serve your fans.”
For a while, toward the end of 2019, when people started sharing their “Wrapped 2019” records, people naively assumed that it was something to be celebrated, but for artists and critics, the truth was the polar opposite.
“The ‘Wrapped’ cards were ubiquitous on social media for a couple of days, but there was also a backlash: critics pointing out that a big number of streams can seem rather more paltry when converted to projected royalties,” stated the article.
However, there is still a silver lining. The royalty system may not be the same as it was many years ago, but a recent IFPI ‘Music Listening 2019’ study in September found that 89% of respondents were at least using some kind of legal music-streaming service to listen to their favorite tunes. This is compared to the 95% of people in 2008 who were consuming music through illegal downloads.
Predictions for 2020: Understanding Music Metadata
The music industry going forward will need to focus on streaming services and their performances. Since there will only ever be more streaming service subscribers, the industry has to be careful of the mechanism that powers the streaming service.
According to Quartz, a business-focused, English-language international news organization, one of the main discussions that people should have around streaming services is the algorithms that power it from the background. The thing is, algorithms “are only as comprehensive and effective as the humans behind them.”
In short, music metadata is what we are dealing with. To illustrate, the new system of sharing music on streaming services begin with record labels and independent artists sending information about their music to streaming services. Editors and curators then work to “verify and expand upon that information, which is then handled by curation teams that add it to playlists and pair it with similar music.”
This is why listening to artists like SZA, who specializes in R&B music, leads us to listen to similar-sounding artists and why indie artist playlists bring us to others who have the same style.
When music is mishandled, though, or at least fundamentally misunderstood for its efforts in genre-bending, problems arise. The biggest music industry issue exploded in 2019 when Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” broke the internet—and everything else. For a big chunk of 2019, everyone was playing the song on TikTok, in college parties, on phones, during downtime, and just for a good laugh. It was the longest-running hit of 2019, and it was a whole brand that its singer himself fully endorsed.
Except when it came down to labeling the song, Billboard was at a loss. It turned out that its country-hip hop mix didn’t seem to lean fully on either side to be called either, which was why it first felt a rocky start on top of the charts. It caused a ruckus that brought people who liked both genres out of the woodwork to defend Lil Nas X’s work and its inarguable place in both country and hip hop.
|The music industry going forward will need to focus on streaming services and their performances. Since there will only ever be more streaming service subscribers, the industry has to be careful of the mechanism that powers the streaming service / Photo by: MetalworksInstitute via Wikimedia Commons|
Outside of the West, another market is emerging: Beijing.
According to IQ Mag, an essential news source for the international live music business, Beijing, China has plans to “position the city as an ‘international music capital,’” aiming for revenue from the Chinese capital’s music and related industries to reach ¥120 billion (US$17.2 billion) by 2025.
With a ¥60 billion ($8.6 billion) earning in 2017, the government found that the country can take advantage of this growth, which is also the reason why Beijing has been lauded as being the “global center of Chinese music.”
The guidelines for building up the Chinese music industry include encouraging “innovation in music technology, including AI composition and ‘musical emotional recognition.’”
For as long as people appreciate music, the industry will thrive and find other means to reach and expand its market.