2017 was the year when the shift to streaming music became undeniable, but what will 2018 bring? Here analyst Mark Mulligan, no stranger to Hypebot readers, and the team at MIDiA Research take a stab at predicting the year ahead. In case you're wondering if it's worth reading, last year their predictions came true 94% of the time.
With 2017 drawing to a close and 2018 on the horizon, it is time for MIDiA’s 2018 predictions. Firstly, to confirm the credibility of our predictions, for our 2017 predictions we had a 94% success rate. See bottom of this post for a run down.
- Post-catalogue - pressing reset on the recorded music business model: Revenues from catalogue sales have long underpinned the major record label model, representing the growth fund with which labels invested in future talent, often at a loss. Streaming consumption is changing this and we’ll see the first effects of lower catalogue in 2018. Smaller artist advances from bigger labels will follow.
- Spotify will need new metrics: Up until now Spotify has been able to choose what metrics to report and pretty much when (annual financial reports aside). Once public, increased investor scrutiny on will see it focus on new metrics (APRU, Life Time Value etc) and concentrate more heavily on its free user numbers. 2018 will be the year that free streaming takes centre stage – watch out radio.
- Apple will launch an Apple Music bundle for Home Pod: We’ve been burnt before predicting Apple Music hardware bundles, but Amazon has set the precedent and we think a $3.99 Home Pod Apple Music subscription (available annually) is on the cards. (Though we’re prepared to be burnt once again on this prediction!)
- Savvy switchers – SVOD’s Achilles’ heel: Churn will become a big deal for leading video subscription services in 2018, with savvy users switching tactically to get access to the new shows they want. Of course, Netflix and co don’t report churn so the indicators will be slowing growth in many markets.
- Subscriptions lose their stranglehold on streaming: 2018 will see the rise of new streaming offerings from traditional TV companies and new entrants that will deliver free-to-view, often ad-supported, on-demand streaming TV.
- Beyond the peak: We are nearing peak in the attention economy. 2018 will be the year casualties start to mount, as audience attention becomes a scarce commodity. Smart players will tap into ‘kinetic capital’ – the value users give to experiences that involve their context and location.
- The rise of the new gate keepers part II: In 2018 Amazon and Facebook will pursue ever more ambitious strategies aimed at making them the leading next generation media companies, the conduits for the digital economy.
- The rise of the unaffiliated eSports: eSports leagues emulate the structure of traditional sports, but they may have missed the point. In 2018, we’ll see more eSports fans actually seeking games competition elsewhere, driving a surge in unaffiliated eSports.
- Mobile games are the canary in the coal mine for peak attention: Mobile games will be the first big losers as we approach peak in the attention economy – there simply aren’t enough free hours left in the day. Mobile gaming activity is declining as mainstream consumers, who became mobile gamers to fill dead time, now have plenty of digital options that more closely match their needs. All media companies need to learn from mobile games’ experience.
- The fall of tech major ROI: Growth will come less cheaply for the tech majors (Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Facebook) in 2018. They will have to overspend to maintain revenue momentum so margins will be hit.
- Regulation catches up with the tech majors: Each of the tech majors is a monopoly or monopsony in their respective markets, staying one step ahead of regulation but this will change. The EU’s forced unbundling of Windows Media Player in the early 2000s triggered the end of Microsoft’s digital dominance. 2018 could see the start of a Microsoft moment for at least one of the tech majors.
For the record, here are some of our correct 2017 predictions:
- Digital will finally account for more than 50% of revenue
- Spotify will still be the leading subscription service
- eSports to reach $1 billion
- Streaming holdouts will trickle not flood
- AR will have hype but not a killer device.
- VR players will double down on content spend
- Google doubles down on its hardware ecosystem plays
- 2017 will not be the year of Peak TV
- Original video content to arrive on messaging apps
Here are some that we got wrong or were inconclusive:
- Tidal finally sells ($300 million stake from Softbank was a partial sale – full sale likely in 2018)
- Apple will launch an Apple Music iPhone – didn’t happen but the Home Pod may be the bundled music device in 2018 (see below)
- Spotify will be disrupted – it actually went from strength to strength with no meaningful new competitor, yet