Although not without its flaws, 2016 was the first time in a while that the music industry showed signs of real growth, thanks in large part to the rising popularity of streaming services, but the (hopefully) positive changes aren't about to stop. Here, we consider some key ways in which the music industry will likely develop in 2017.
Guest post by Doug of MIDI Lifestyle
2016 was a big year for change in the music industry and for the first time since the internet came along the industry saw signs of real growth. By the middle of 2016 record labels saw revenue growth of over 8 percent over the same period in 2015. This was driven mostly by services such as Spotify and Apple Music.
As early as the beginning of 2016 it was clear that music streaming was officially the industry’s biggest source of money earned. And as the streaming landscape changes, what with Amazon and SoundCloud launching as Spotify’s competition, it is set to keep growing.
Here are some of the ways we predict that music marketing industry will change throughout 2017:
With Instagram adapting many of the features that makes Snapchat great, we might see a BIG decline in engagement on Snapchat.
Actually, TechCrunch has reported a noticeable decline in Snapchat viewers ever since Instagram Stories launched.
If you currently market your music or personal brand using Snapchat, you’ll want to work at growing your Instagram audience (and start posting Instagram Stories) as well.
Something to note is that there are very smart people working at Snapchat. There is still a chance that they will implement new features that will save their audience.
More algorithms to deter spammers
How many Soundcloud private messages from “DTF babes” (AKA spambots) have you gotten in 2016. Even on a Soundcloud account that I don’t actively use, I still see these messages roll in.
How about Twitter spam as well? It’s annoying to see someone follow you, but the only reason they’re following you is to hope you’ll follow back.
In 2017, we should see more efforts to fight spam on social networks. I expect to see more machine learning and API restrictions to defeat spammers.
In the meantime, you should be auditing your efforts to make sure your tactics are not causing more bad than good. Be sure you are marketing your music without being spammy.
Turbulence at Soundcloud
Soundcloud has become controversial among music producers as they started pivoting to a more lucrative business structure - selling streaming subscriptions.
With Soundcloud not as musician-focused as they used to be, this gives the opportunity for another more musician-focused platform to swoop in and take marketshare.
The cofounder of Soundcloud, Eric Wahlforss, said on January 30 to Telegraph “Streaming is set to explode [in 2017]”. While that’s true, the question is will Soundcloud succeed with their music streaming model.
There are approximately 100 million people currently subscribed to paid music streaming services which leaves plenty of room to grow. Take Apple Music for example. Their service is available to 113 different countries and comes pre-installed on every iOS device. It took them a year and a half to reach one half the size of Spotify’s paid subscribers but they are catching up.
Now there is Amazon Music Unlimited which only charges Prime members $8 each month. You will see these services grow in the next year.
Streaming music is getting easier than ever with new smart speakers being introduced to the marketplace. Speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Sonos mean you can listen to music without your laptop or smartphone now. This too will play a part in the growth of streaming music.
The big question is whether it will become easier for smaller artists to get on platforms such as Spotify and Google Play Music.
Some Streaming Services Will Die
While the music streaming industry is growing, that does not mean each of these companies is making an enduring profit. Some of the larger companies like Google, Apple and Amazon don’t need to worry about making a profit, but other smaller companies do.
These smaller services like SoundCloud, Tidal, Deezer and Napster (Yes, Napster is still around) are in danger of acquisition. By this time next year, you should expect to see fewer of these streaming services. At least one will get acquired or go out of business.
Platform exclusives are here to stay
While there have been some failures in terms of platform exclusive album releases, and Universal swears to never go that route again, plenty of labels will stick with this model.
Both Apple and Tidal are willing to pay big money for these types of exclusive deals and as long as they drive up subscriptions they will continue to be on trend. This does not mean that we will see an enormous number of these sorts of deals, just that they will exist.
AI will become more prominent
As artificial intelligence gets better so will the music it is capable of creating. This is sure to put the pressure on artists to perform at their peak. While these advances are not going to put anyone out of work just yet, in time it is entirely possible.
We’ve even seen an entire song composed using artificial intelligence in 2016. Basically, a large database of Beatles songs were used and AI created a similar style. Once the music was written, the French composer, Benoît Carré, arranged and produced the song.
In 2017 the technology will be improved and more artists will take notice. For some it will open up new, creative avenues while others will cringe at the mere thought.
This means more plugins and software for musicians will come out allowing you to do crazy things with sound. We’ve already seen big growth in 2016 for the platform, LANDR, which uses AI to master your music.
We’ll also see growth in machine learning. This will affect platforms such as Soundcloud and Spotify and will impact the music you’re recommended as well as the artists you’re recommended.
Catering to streaming artists will continue
For a long time, it seemed as though streaming music services had everyone’s best interests in mind other than the artists. That is changing.
Take Apple Music and Tidal for example, they have made artist-friendliness a staple in their relationships. In 2016 Spotify hired Lady Gaga’s former manager Troy Carter to take over its expanding artist relations initiatives. Sure, middle-ground artists are not getting huge checks but they are getting other promotional value from joining the ranks.
As you can see the landscape in terms of music marketing is changing in 2017 both for consumers and the artists themselves.
We will be steering even farther away from song/album sales and will see more music streaming platforms grow.