Guest Post by Eric Neumann of Mad Genius Radio.
It’s been an exciting year in music. Taylor Swift made headlines after pulling her entire catalog from Spotify, Thom Yorke released a surprise solo album through BitTorrent Bundles and Aphex Twin released Syro, his first album in over a decade – talk about disrupting the industry. With the New Year upon us, I’d like to offer up predictions we can expect in 2015, including the resurrection of US city beef.
1. The RESPECT Act will be reintroduced in Congress early 2015
Currently, pre-1972 audio recordings are not covered under federal copyright law and, therefore, are not subject to receiving royalty payments. The RESPECT Act would mend this issue and enable all digital performances of songs – regardless of the year they were recorded – to become eligible for royalties. While Sirius and Pandora have both opposed the RESPECT Act, I wonder what Diana Ross, Robert Plant and Paul McCartney think about receiving compensation they’ve been due for quite some time.
One of the top discussions of 2014 has centered on Taylor Swift and her Katniss Everdeen approach to save artists from the rise of music streaming giants that enable free music listening while serving ads. While the ad-based model currently dominates, it is damaging for artists who are trying to make a living off their art. As the conversation concerning the end of free music gains steam, with consumers taking part in it, on-demand streaming services will need to reexamine the viability of the ad-based approach.
3. About 20% of companies currently chasing on-demand and/or downloads will quietly pull back or abandon their efforts
Three of the sixteen on-demand music streaming services will crumble after realizing that it’s tough sledding chasing the market for music aficionados. These lean-forward types, who delight in spending time combing through and compiling music, comprise just 17% of the population. The rest of the population is more lean-back “do the work for me” types. You can’t make a person lean-forward. Those habits are cultivated in a user’s teens and early twenties and don’t change. As a result, the pool of companies catering to lean-forward individuals will begin to dwindle. (i.e. Spotify, Beats/Apple, YouTube, Amazon, Rhapsody, Rdio, Rara, Sony, Xbox Music, Grooveshark, Soundcloud, Deezer, eMusic, Beatport, CdBaby, Pono).
Handicap Hint: It won’t be BeatPort.
4. Billy Idol will bring punk back to rock
He’ll chart 3 songs in the top 40 Adult Alternative format from his latest album, Kings and Queens of the Underground. “Can’t Break Me Down” is already at #32 for Adult Alternative six weeks after release, and it’s rotating as a 5 (playing generously) on my Mad Genius Radio mix
5. Taylor Swift will sign a duet with an unlikely artist
And it will be amazing and receive positive reviews across the musical spectrum. T-Swift is always looking for ways to stay fresh and isn’t afraid to try something new. I think she’s more likely to succeed than fail at something like a duet. Plus, she’s my guilty pleasure.
6. Battle of the Bands will take on a new meaning
Remember when Alicia Keys and Jay-Z came out with “Empire State of Mind,” and then Katy Perry followed suit with “California Gurls?" The pride of nations is about to get serious. Snoop Dogg recently posted a cover art photo to his Instagram that read "Los Angeles Vs. Everybody," and featured artists from LA—hinting at something to come. It's assumed that Snoop got the idea after Eminem recently put out a track called “Detroit vs. Everybody.” I see other cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, and New York, with prominent talent, jumping on board to showcase their homegrown talent.
And those are my top predictions for what we’ll see unfold in the next year. The landscape of music is changing with the rise of streaming and the fall of music ownership, but the show must go on and I’m excited to see where the future of the music industry takes us!