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Trends in music business: What should we expect for September?
September 1, 2020

Trends in music business: What should we expect for September?

In the light of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no industry that has managed to escape unscathed. The music business has found itself trying to deal with the implications and fallouts across all areas, from artists and songwriters to digital publishers and record companies.

While the live market has been particularly affected due to the closure of live venues, the impact will be felt across the music industry as a whole. The 2020 digital transformation is going to be felt most keenly in the new music industry trends. 

Rather than a means to an end, it is going to continue to dominate the music experience. According to industry expert, Cherie Hu, as artists and fans look to take control of their futures with direct-to-consumer revenue models, the immersive at-home video will continue to be the highest source of music consumption growth.

Music distribution might become more independent-focused

While many businesses were forced to close during lockdown, the music industry managed to embrace new ways of working. This included distribution platforms actively working with musicians to encourage new releases even in the face of the pandemic.

One of the biggest names in the global record industry, French-based Believe Distribution Services explicitly called on musicians to keep releasing. In an interview for Music Business Worldwide, Denis Ladegaillerie, Believe’s CEO, said: 

Our advice to most independent artists – especially to independent hip-hop artists, where 90% of revenues typically come from digital music – is simple: keep releasing.

During Midem Digital Edition keynote, Ladegaillerie also highlighted that the combination of digital streaming would work to the benefit of independent artists - and we’re likely to see an increase in the successes of independent artists over the next ten years:

2010 to 2020, the headline was the rise of streaming. 2020 to 2030, I think the headline is going to be the rise of local independent artists because we are now at the stage where streaming is the largest form of music consumption. The first artists that are benefiting from this are independent artists.

More global music business initiatives to come

While the onset of coronavirus and the lockdowns led to a wide range of relief funds being established, the music business had to turn to the public sector to assess what happens next. The main concern right now is whether or not the public sector can help to support the music industry should a second wave of COVID-19 lead to further lockdowns.

For example, UK music have created an information page for the music industry which highlights both relief efforts, as well as ways that the UK government is being petitioned to support ongoing music efforts. 

Where federal efforts are providing difficult to access, loans and grants for a variety of relief funds are reaching out to those in need. In terms of individuals and businesses, streaming giant Spotify has established a COVID-19 Music Relief in order to highlight the various international initiatives on hand to support musicians. For every donated dollar, Spotify will match - up to a grand total of $10 million.

Internationally acclaimed musicians as diverse as Metallica, Billy Ray Cyrus, the Weeknd, and Ariana Grande have also been singled out for their efforts to help musicians stay afloat

One of the key trends to be mindful of in the upcoming months is going to be ensuring that music professionals can find access to this information when they need it. 

Investing in ongoing music relief efforts

While the investments in the here and now are providing invaluable for individuals, international efforts around the world are investing money to enable music to restart safely. The German government, for example, has provided €150m to invest in live music.

Meanwhile, examples of genre-specific outreach highlights that there’s a huge amount of potential for different sectors to reach out on behalf of all of their members. Greg Marshall, general manager of the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) has spoken of the need for these kinds of interventions:

The electronic music community response to the COVID crisis has generally been one of solidarity, increased communication and innovation during an incredibly difficult time. We are seeing a wave of kindness from many companies and individuals who are in a position to help others.

The ICMP has also responded on many fronts, providing help, lobbying, information, and resources for everyone from musicians to governments. ICMP director-general John Phelan, has highlighted that many of the coronavirus impacts will be delayed until 2021.

The particular challenge for the music industry is surmounting the delayed effect. As a rights and royalties-based industry, balance sheets will really redden come the first financial quarter of 2021. That’s the crux of why we need close cooperation and to ensure the right structures are in place to adapt.

There is going to continue to be a need to address the financial concerns of musicians and publishers, and the ICMP has called for international efforts to ensure that diversity doesn’t suffer due to coronavirus.

Digital music embracing social media

In terms of facing the limitations of coronavirus head-on, it’s likely that we’ll see the music business engage in more virtual touring, and livestream shows - not as a fallback, but as an opportunity to innovate in its own right.

The opportunities available here are wide-ranging, from offering live shows on Instagram venues, geo-fencing performances in much the same way a show is ticketed, and embracing the potential in digital collaborations.

Another place where technology and music are becoming close bedfellows in new ways has to do with the increasing demand for social music technology. As social isolation has left people feeling, well, isolated, the international market is turning to social technology as a means of enjoying music.

From Instagram to Tik-Toks, the opportunities to expand the reach of music publishing has greater potential than ever before - however, this is going to take a lot of navigating new logistics, for both performers and publishers. 

Rethinking Digital Models

Rethinking models for livestream, and the ways that the music industry can rethink digital strategies are going to be the most burning questions of Fall 2020. 

Navigating a new scene of live performances brings up questions about licensing, royalties, and revenue streams. For virtual livestream tours to take off in the long-term, it’s going to be essential to assess the legal, and financial viability for musicians, venues, producers, and publishers. However, the opportunity to introduce new collaborations, and broaden the scope of music technology has the potential to create something new and exciting. 

Livestream, and music from home in general, are going from strength to strength, as Cherie Hu discussed at Music Tectonics. In this podcast you’ll find out about the efforts of specific artists and the potential of this moment for leapfrogging over historic barriers for music tech. 

An important note that Cherie Hu makes is in the ways that musicians interact with the community and their fans. One of the main goals is to engage the audience and recreate a sort of common experience to share. Livestream actors understood the fact that it is not a transfer of a live show onto an online platform but a new experience, a new medium to reach the artists' communities.

Groups such as Next Stage Challenge have embraced the potential to create something new, by hosting hackathons explicitly aimed at supporting innovative and sustainable projects to reshape the live music experience in the digital space.

There is no doubt that 2020 and 2021 is going to be a challenging time for all areas of music publishing - with uncertainty and financial difficulties likely to cast a long shadow over future work. 

Reprtoir is on hand to help you navigate the current landscape with the opportunity to efficiently manage all of your assets in one place. While the current state of the world is in flux, it’s decidedly possible for the music business to revamp the way that music is enjoyed, consumed, and paid. With the focus on sustainability, innovation, and independent artists, there’s a chance to revolutionize aspects of the music business for the better.

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