Apps & Mobile

Trending Into 2014: Music and Tech Trends

Surfs-up-daniel-dauria-flickr2013 was an eventful year in which a lot of things happened but only a few of my expectations and predictions were fulfilled. So rather than predicting things I'm going to share some specific trends related to music and tech that I think are worth keeping in mind as one evaluates the New Year. In addition I'll include comments about their relevance to DIY and indie music as appropriate.

Video, Global, Mobile

Year of YouTube

Despite obvious piracy YouTube has managed to become status quo for every level of the music industry. Though upper tier artists got first crack at artist services now most forms of marketing and monetization via YouTube and third parties are available to even the smallest artist.

YouTube has achieved the difficult task of becoming a key piece of digital music infrastructure that allows it wiggling room with major labels and publishers. This is due in part to YouTube's continued status as leading video platform.

Growth of a Global Web Audience

One reason YouTube is important is that it allows for the development of a global fanbase. This fanbase might grow from a single viral video or ongoing releases by major acts. International touring did well in 2013 and the web has helped build and maintain those audiences.

Growth of Video and Mobile

YouTube is also benefitting from the increasing importance of both video content and mobile delivery and sharing of content. Those are two major developments, separate but connecting via mobile video, that should affect music-related video content as well.

For all musicians this means finding as many effective ways to create video as possible while also making sure that one's web presence is accessible to mobile browsers. Native iOS and Android apps also have a lot of potential though possibly more as artist portals than as album art projects.

Big Moves and Messages

Experimentation at the Top

Beyoncé's iTunes release and Jay Z's Samsung release showed the kind of flexibility one typically expects for DIY and indie artists. While their moves may not seem directly relevant to other levels of the industry, they do help validate alternative approaches to album releases as well as encouraging brands to support music in new ways.

Women's Issues and Gender Equity

Women's issues in the music industry have been a huge point of discussion this year enabled by the web as a communications platform. From Grimes and other women addressing web trolls to arguments regarding appropriate displays of sexually-related content as triggered by Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus to musicians such as Zoë Keating and Amanda Palmer leading discussions beyond the realm of gender, women in the music industry have been at the forefront of progressive thought.

Shifts in Social Networking


Music and messaging is kind of a big question mark at the moment. Lots of social networking energy is shifting to messaging platforms including Line, Kakao, WhatsApp and Tango.

Music messaging as a dedicated category doesn't seem to be taking off. Partnerships and promotions appear to be the order of the day for music services and musicians seeking to connect with audiences using messaging platforms.

Use of Multiple Social Networks

While use of social networks is often cast as a zero sum game of winners and losers, the norm is shifting towards use of multiple social networks and messaging platforms rather than allegiance to one or two.

This shift will require new approaches to music marketing as well as attention to which social networks and messaging platforms are the best fit for the artist.

Ubiquitous Streaming Music

Music Services

Music services from Spotify to Pandora will continue to sort out the terrain. This process has a ways to go with more entries ahead and inevitable exits to follow. The question for DIY and indie artists is how best to benefit from such services.

Having Spotify join the growing ranks of music services providing sales links and data to musicians was an important step. Working actively with music services that provide such support, for example promoting particular services from one's website, while stepping back from others might increase the growth of such support.

Advertising-supported Music

The increase in free to the listener ad-supported music takes place in a larger context of media monetizing content through advertising. How much of this ad activity will unlock unrealized value and how much will simply compete with other content providers remains to be seen.

Wearable Tech

Wearable tech, from Google Glass to smartwatches to smartrings will continue their slow move from oddity to must have. How this will play out is hard to call but finding ways to have one's music and related content on these new forms of mobile devices should be part of one's planning.

The Car and The Living Room

The movement of new forces into the auto and living room (aka home) is also an ongoing process. Right now, like wearable tech though far ahead in most respects, automobiles and smart tvs still privilege apps and major music channels. However the move is towards open web access which should help open new terrain for DIY artists.

For now having your music on music services may be the clearest path to being available on mobile, whether smartphones or smartgear, as well as in the car and living room.

And One More Thing

Equity Crowdfunding

The ability to receive investments through crowdfunding continues to inch along. One recent estimate put the likelihood of the SEC figuring things out by sometime Summer 2014. How this development will affect the music industry remains to be seen.

What music tech trends do you think will most impact the music industry?

[Thumbnail image courtesy Daniel D'Auria.]


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. Hey Clyde,
    Thanks for the insightful post again. I think you brought up a lot of large trends for 2013, namely YouTube becoming a dominant platform for music distribution and discovery, and the growth of video and mobile.
    I think that one of the larger trends were going to be seeing in 2014 is the rise of subscription/streaming services. If there was a subscription based streaming service that could combine both SoundCloud and YouTube into one platform, I think it would be a major contender.
    What do you think? I believe there are a few companies coming out of YCombinator trying to do this.
    And Happy New Year!

  2. “subscription based streaming service that could combine both SoundCloud and YouTube into one platform”
    How would a subscription based service for music from free streaming sources work?
    There’s been a lot happening in this area and the free services providing such music don’t seem to be doing that well.

  3. I think that because you can find music easily and for free these days, the main value of a subscription based service is the convenience that it provides for you.
    However, free doesn’t necessarily mean convenient. I almost exclusively use SoundCloud and YouTube to find new music, however if I want to listen to music for extended periods of time, I tend to just listen to 2 hour mixes and sets.
    I would be very interested in paying for a service that acts as both a web and mobile application that allows me to combine and create playlists from songs that I find on SoundCloud and YouTube with ease.
    Does that make a bit more sense?

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