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Music Business Trends in 2021
February 22, 2021

Music Business Trends in 2021

The music industry has seen some major changes throughout 2020 with COVID-19 causing major disruptions. Live concerts have been nearly eliminated to ensure the health and safety of everyone, streaming is undergoing some interesting changes, and artists are facing challenges in collaboration.

Despite the mess 2020 has brought along, the outlook of 2021 is starting to look brighter every day as the world starts to recover. We’re here to sort out the next set of music tech trends for 2021 and explain how they will rock the music industry for the year to come.

The polarization of Livestream

The lack of physical concerts in 2020 was a great shock to many performers and rights holders. No argument here. However, the amazing minds in the music business haven’t sat back about this; many artists and labels have performed live concerts through livestream them online, music tech solutions have quickly emerged to allow experimentation of paid performances online, reinventing experiences.

Just as one example: over the 2020 Thanksgiving weekend, Dua Lipa broadcasted a livestream concert called Studio 2054. The production racked up over 1.5 million dollars, but it’s well speculated it generated more than enough revenue to make up for the production costs as they sold over 284,000 tickets between £8.99 and £15.00 each. Sure it is the case for major artists, but paid performances are going to spread, as experiences are getting better and better (more interactions, potential livestreams from anywhere in the world..).

Despite this success, some critics speculate that an online concert like this could degrade live performances if they become standard practice. If millions of people could see an online concert, they might not be motivated to attend live shows with ticket prices upwards of ten times or more. The trick here is to keep building scarcity; livestream isn’t a new technology, but it could be a new kind of performance. Music tech solutions have always needed the space and time to experiment. The current situation is obviously not ideal, but now we can test drive new solutions.

However, there is a different edge in livestreaming that has been shown as well. The Weeknd’s digital concert on TikTok received over 2 million live views, and due to this, The Weeknd was introduced to many more listeners. This has boosted sales of his music and brought his songs onto the Billboard listings due to popularity. The mixture of digital art and music became a great platform on social media to expand The Weeknd’s influence on new fans. Social Media platforms have been a great way to reach new audiences, the next will be to license all broadcasted tracks and monetize these streams. Although there are some hold off from some of them, including Twitter.

Small and independent artists have seen some success as well with livestream. Many indie artists have turned to monthly subscription platforms like Patreon and Pillar to earn revenue from fans while providing exclusive content and livestream concerts. They combine this with the variety of social media platforms out there to spread the word. This has been great for them to stay afloat throughout the pandemic but doesn’t generate new listeners as opposed to playing a small venue with other artists. Without viral music videos or Tiktok-like situations, they might not grow despite their hard work.

The new revenue streams

Music artists have seen the greatest wounds during the pandemic as for many their main revenue streams were from live concerts. Without these live concerts to keep them afloat, artists and their teams have turned to rely on revenues from streaming.

This reliance has brought out many new debates for the fight for more remuneration from streaming services. In the UK, artists are paid very little revenue from their songs played on the radio, and more surprisingly little to nothing from streaming services has been legally established.

The biggest movement based in the UK is from the #BrokenRecord campaign. They’ve collected data and have been conversing with parliament members. In an official document submitted to parliament, they suggested offering direct royalties to artists from streaming platforms. This would call for extending coverage of an older legislative measure called “Equitable Remuneration” which is for television and radio broadcasts to include On Demand music streaming platforms.

If the Parliament passes legislation to ensure artists receive direct royalties from streaming services, it could bring a wave across the music tech field, and more broadly, the music world and influence other countries to follow. This could be great to ensure smaller artists and earn a living without the need for live shows and concerts.

The New Working Environment

How artists collaborate is becoming increasingly hard due to social distancing and flight restrictions during the pandemic. Many artists are turning to video conference software like Skype or Zoom, but they can lack the immediate interaction and connection.

However, some artists are finding this change to be interesting. Poo Bear in collaboration with Justin Biever stated in a Rolling Stone interview said the change was “refreshing” and, “If anything it makes you pay even more attention,” he said. “I’m listening harder, making sure I don’t miss anything.” One of last year’s favorites was Mike Shinoda composing his new album with his community on Twitch, connecting regularly to get feedback and suggestions from fans.

For music professionals, collaborating on music business has generated a rise of label services solutions, a pretty big trend in music tech now. Working remotely, without physical presence has been tough on music professionals. The music industry is used to events and human interactions, and music businesses usually require physical exchanges. This means that we’ll have to adapt our way of doing business to fit the fully digital world.

The need to adapt to a fully digital industry

The good news is: it is not a new trend. The music industry going through its digital transformation is not a brand new phase. The current pandemic has accelerated the movement, without a doubt. But this means that solutions already exist!

I guess you know where I’m going with this; we built Reprtoir for music professionals to optimize their administrative operations and keep a clear workspace, accessible from anywhere by a whole team. As music professionals who have been working remotely for while before the pandemic, we know exactly which features should help. So get a free live demo with us at any time to see how we can help you manage your catalogs, musical works, contracts, rights holders and royalty accounting!

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