As we begin a new year, it's time to look ahead at what 2016's music industry trends will be, with an expected continuation of the streaming wars, the blending of tech with the live music experience, and other predictions.
With 2015 coming to an end, it’s the perfect time for reflection and to set our sites on what’s coming up next! Between CES, The Grammys and SXSW, the next few months are going to unquestionably set the pace for the rest of the year. We took a little time to outline some 6 trends in Music Marketing Culture to look out for in 2016.
Trend 1: More and more brands will develop a music strategy
According to Nielson’s 360 music report for 2015, close to 91% of all Americans listen to music more than 24 hours a week. As engagement grows in 2016 due to more platforms being readily available that are easily integrated into consumer’s lives, brands will have a key opportunity to enter this high engagement entertainment medium by committing to developing a Music Marketing Strategy, or a way for a brand to integrate the brand image with music to market to more savvy and difficult to reach consumers.
With so many new streaming services and music consumption platforms being released, music data will ultimately have more influence for brands to consider when making partnerships. This use of “big data” will take some of the risk out when brands look to involve artists in their campaigns. With less risk in brand partnerships, you will see more brands both large and small have confidence in investing marketing resources in these worthwhile campaigns. With a strong data backed foundation, it will ultimately be easier for brands to see a clear ROI causing more brands to jump on this powerful trend in 2016.
Trend 2: The continued rise of the Emerging Artist
Large mainstream artist collaborations can certainly add value for a brand. It puts a large-scale name to a brand, and allows for instant media coverage and consumer recognition. Yet, most brands that are not in the “large” category usually can’t afford these types of collaborations. In addition, some brands who work with established artists sometimes don’t get that genuine collaboration feel because of the artist’s previous involvement with other brands diluting the impact. With that in mind, one of the big trends that will occur in 2016 will be for brands both large to small to more heavily invest in emerging artists, utilizing the up and coming talent to break their brands and target truly engaged consumers. The new emerging artist and brand collaborations in 2016 will rely more heavily on data than ever before. Understanding brand consumer data and cross referencing it with artist fan data will allow for a higher success rate of brand and artist collaborations. In addition, brands will look to invest more in artist's end products such as brand sponsored albums, exclusive artist content, branded concerts, or VIP experiences. Association and product placement with a brand’s sponsored artist is no longer enough to create a successful collaboration. Unique and personalized experiences paired with engaging content is what will define a great brand and artist collaboration in 2016.
Trend 3: Streaming Wars Continue
As consumers shift towards streaming, there is a battle in getting consumers to pay for, and stick with, a specific streaming service. In 2016, battles between Pandora, Deezer, Apple, Google, Spotify and Tidal (amongst others) will intensify as each platform looks to differentiate itself in some way. Tidal with their concert exclusives at Barclay’s Center, Apple with their artist exclusives, and Spotify with customizable playlists to users; each platform is looking to create a unique value proposition to the user in terms of the experience of listening to music. There is no question that the streaming wars will only get more intensified as 2016 rolls on with YouTube Red and Soundcloud streaming services looking to enter and scale users in this tight streaming market. Whomever can dominate the streaming market in 2016 will be able to influence the future of how music will be consumed, distributed, and shared. The streaming service that ends up coming out on top in 2016 will need to clearly convey their value proposition to not only the engaged music fan, but more so to the casual listener and create individualized products with a higher diversity than the 9.99 per month price tag, that will fit a range of music listeners needs.
Trend 4: Festival culture gets more brand & tech centric
The integration of brands with festivals like Made In America, Coachella and Lollapalooza, to concerts like the Pandora Lexus Concert Series will grow in 2016. As more millennial's engage in the music festival culture, there is a large opportunity for brands not only to connect with this audience but capture key data and analytics through technologies like iBeacons, RFID and NFC. The challenge for brands will be to utilize tech such as the Doppler Labs customizable sound ear buds, the Samsung and Apple smart watch along with new experimental technologies like virtual reality and soundscapes to enhance the concert experience for consumers. If brands can ultimately be a concert or festival experience enhancer that creates memorable moments for fans of both the artist and brand, then both parties will see a mutual benefit in the partnership. Fans will feel they got a higher value because of the brands involvement and brand consumers feel cared about by the brand they are loyal too. This connectivity will allow brands to ultimately connect with savvy consumers by connecting a unique memory and experience with a brand.
Trend 5: Music as a bridge to consumers for Fashion brands
As fashion brands begin to target the end buyer and make Fashion Week more “consumer friendly,” music artists will untimely play a bigger part in the showcase of collections for brands for fashion week throughout the year into 2016. Some fashion brands and retail outlets have already begun to step foot in this trend, such as Macy's Fashion Front Row event that was held at MSG this past fall, showing over 60 designers and a 150 plus looks while weaving in a strong music performance element into the show to draw in a wider variety of ticket buyers. As fashion week's exclusivity dissolves and focus shifts to being consumer oriented, fashion brands will certainly need entertainment support beyond just the runway to correctly scale a consumer oriented fashion week. Much like Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show that this year headlined Ariana Grande, or fashion sponsored shows like Fashion Rocks, a Calvin Klein sponsored event, fashion and music will continue to converge closer as a heavier focus is put on scaling a consumer oriented fashion week. Music artists will be the key to making events like this more marketable/shareable to the brand’s “end consumer” which will ultimately increase the amount of artist and brand partnerships in the fashion industry in 2016 and beyond.
Trend 6 - Wearable Tech blends with Streaming Music for New User Experience
Wearable technology will allow brands to tap into and interact with music consumers in ways that will match the pace of their daily lives. Much like how Spotify has added a running and workout segment to the Spotify experience, the wearable technology revolution will also allow music and brand marketers to capture more in depth data then ever before. If brands can capture information on users listening habits, mediums of listening, trends in listening, a predict the next moves of users accurately, brands can be content creators for music fans that match their targeted demographic such as branded playlists, exclusive content or VIP experiences to each individual user. Traditional advertisements aren't effective in capturing the music users attention. If brands can create integrated advertising and marketing strategies and platforms for users to engage with music such as branded content and playlists, brands will ultimately become more effective in driving key messages to consumers.
Jesse Kirshbaum. // @JesseKay
For more than a decade, Jesse Kirshbaum has been in the trenches of the music business, specializing in securing talent for concerts, tours, and endorsement deals for his various clients and brand partners internationally. He founded NUE, a creative music agency recently named to the Inc. 5000 as the third fastest-growing media company in America, to sit at the center of music, brands, and technology . Jesse is also the executive producer for both the hit digital series #CRWN and The FlashFWD Awards, honoring premierstars in music tech.