What’s Ahead For 2011? Bobby Owsinski Sees A Shift Towards Realism In The Music Indusry

image from g-ecx.images-amazon.com As we end the year, Hypebot asked some our favorite thinkers, writers, and friends to answer two questions – one looking forward and the other back.  Here Bobby Owsinski , the author of Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age, steps up to the plate and answers.

Hypebot: What do you see as the most important business and consumer trends that will shape the music industry in 2011?

Bobby Owsinski: As I see it, there will be several important trends in 2011, but they’ll all be mostly a continuation of what we’ve seen in 2010.

The most important trend for 2011 will be realism.

  • The realism that DIY takes a lot of work and the rewards aren’t as great as in the heyday of the major labels. Musicians and artists will begin to see success in a different way as making a living replaces stardom as the big score.
  • The realism that social networking has limitations, and traditional marketing and promotion can’t be abandoned. You still need both for effective branding and marketing.
    The realism that the touring market is not nearly the goldmine that it once was during better economic times. Fewer venues, less money and more competition makes gigging more difficult than ever. That being said, look for this to loosen up a bit towards the end of the year as the economy rebounds.
  • And the realism that some things in the music business never change. You still need talent, some great songs, lots of hard work, and a little luck to make your mark.

Other trends for 2011 include:

  • The major labels lose even more influence, but don't go away. They'll always be needed for what they do best – taking a successful artist and making them a superstar.
  • A new generation of record label will emerge, helmed by music entrepreneurs like those in the 50's and 60's. These entrepreneurs are part of their audience, love the same music, and are as far away from corporate execs as you can get.
  • The album continues to lose ground. It’s no longer a total listening experience, so the listening consumer cherry-picks the best songs as a result. This trend will eventually reverse, but not in 2011.
  • Music subscription will finally reach critical mass as consumers realize its benefits and more services become available (iTunes subscription perhaps?).

Hypebot: Since this is ultimately all about music,  what were your top musical moment(s) of 2010?

Bobby Owsinski: The best musical experience for me was producing the latest SNEW album at Village Recorders. Great band with a classic rock approach at the one of the best studios in the world, with all the players in the same room recording at once. That just doesn't happen very much any more.

Bobby Owsinski is a producer/engineer and author of 13 books about music, recording and the music business includingThe Mixing Engineer’s Handbook and Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age. He posts daily on his Big Picture production blog and Music 3.0 music industry blog.

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  1. Would it be possible to get some more clarification on Mr Owsinskis point about the new generation of record label?For the most part the indies are run by music fans, is he implying that the running of a major label would be handed over to a fan of music or that a new major label with significant backing would emerge helmed by these new entrepreneurs. Both very exciting prospects indeed.

  2. Had a track on a compilation multi-CD release this year, with two more to come early 2011, on a label run by a guy in the medical industry out of his house. My other band just had a vinyl release, with two more planned for 2011, on a label run by a German visual artist. Micro labels seem to be the way to release, if not make a living from (I’m in my 50s and have a day job, thankfully!), recorded music.

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