Music Business

Music Industry Trends Q1 2024: TikTok, AI, VR, IPOs, Superfans & More

With the first three months of the year just behind us, Jesse Kirshbaum looks at the trends and technology that are already reshaping music and the music industry this year.

by Jesse Kirshbaum, co-founder of the Nue Agency

Heading into Q2 is always a good moment for Spring cleaning and reflection on what’s transpired in the year so far. From my standpoint, the industry is looking solid across the board. 

The primary way I see music changing is through perceived value. During the early 2000s, music was viewed as free by consumers. Now, through private equity, venture capital, the labels, the streaming companies, and the artists, this has changed. The conversation around music as an undervalued commodity is ramping up, which will lead to a great era of investment in music and even more change and opportunity.

Looking at Q1, some of the key topics have been:

Labels cutting costs while creating more profits: It’s a good time to be in the major label business. They’re focused on boosting their stocks as they look for their next big business models. The labels are letting good people go while harvesting, monetizing, and reinvesting. I expect that to continue. They will fund the next movements in music by leveraging their war chests and catalogs.  

Major streaming services are saturated: That’s why Spotify is focused on music videos, audio books, and master classes because, truthfully, how many new subscribers are out there? 

The future of TikTok: This is the big theme of 2024. The American government is closing in on TikTok and Universal has pulled its catalog. I explained how I see this playing out, but in the short-term TikTok and Universal are losing out. Long-term, this is going to be a big money maker for everyone at the table, even the Chinese backers at Bytedance. 

The global music market continues to grow in importance: From Latino music to Afrobeats, from K-Pop to the Indian music market and the UK Rock resurgence, music’s global reach continues to be a key driver in the business. 

Apple is having a hard year: Is Apple’s reign over? I don’t think so, but Q1 has been rough. Apple is having trouble across the board from regulation to lawsuits in Europe and a lawsuit from the US Government. Vision Pro, like many other VR devices, feels like it flopped. 

Everyone is trying to figure out A/R and VR – I expect more breakout games, accessories, and hardware. It’s not about hardware, though. The platform that enables the best developers and builds the best consumer app store is the one that will win the biggest. 

IPO market: A big question is…is it ready to go again? In Q1, we saw some positive tests. Reddit did well as did Truth Social (at least out the gate). Once the IPO market comes back, we’ll start to see a flurry of mergers, exits, and investment money. 

The Intersection of Content & Commerce – Livestream shopping and wrapping content around shopping experiences are continuing to make strides in the US. The future is clear: Shop the outfit is going to be a very easy addition to all music videos and paparazzi photos with the affiliate link. In Q1, NTWRK’s purchase of Complex has created a flywheel of relevance for both companies and the space. We know what’s happening in Asia with shopping and content, but it hasn’t resonated as big as it will yet in America. This merger ensures there will be more heat in the space. 

The algorithm killed the music critic: The music media landscape is changing and Pitchfork folded. Is there a need for new players in the critic space? Does anybody care about a critic when the algorithm can serve up the next great track for you? Or can it?

Build a newsletter, create a fund: Everywhere I turn, people are dropping newsletters and building businesses around their thought leadership. It’s all about trusted voices. The Substack revolution has given way to an email newsletter frenzy. Where people go from here will be interesting.

Music movies on the rise: Music biographies, biopics, and concert films are popping up left and right. Bob Marley’s bio pic “One Love” was the biggest film of year until Dune II last week. AMC is having an amazing year with concert films from Beyoncé, Taylor, and special events like Andre 3000’s release day activation. AMC has re-released the Talking Heads film and more classic concert films. Music at the movies is catching on and, as more music films are being made, theater experiences are a good home to watch the magic. 

Live Nation soars to new heights: The live business is booming and Live Nation knows how to operationalize that. The stock is looking great, but what’s next? The ticket industry needs disruption and they are still in danger of monopoly legislation with Ticketmaster. Watch out for Live Nation to eat their own lunch and spin off Ticketmaster while the getting is good! 

Country music Is on the rise: Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter” dropped last week, and it’s already the biggest album of the year. The roll out has been fantastic, and although they’re using the slogan, “it’s not a country album; it’s a Beyonce album,” what’s happening is genre-bending and door opening for a lot of closet country fans. Ten years ago this would have sounded crazy to me, but country is becoming the soundtrack of our nation. 

Life after Hip-Hop 50: Hip-hop had an awesome year in 2023 with its 50th anniversary, but now it’s time for my favorite genre to think through where it goes next. This is definitely a transition year into a growth era for Hip-hop. Ownership is the key theme, and it’s great to see the sound’s evolution while the sport stays competitive. 

AI is the hottest topic in music – There’s so much opportunity in AI in 2024. This is a dominant topic that will continue to iterate. The main trend is that you have to be using it. I’m building my tech stack and constantly keeping on top of what’s now and what’s next in this space. That’s for another post. 

Crypto is out of control: All the way up! What’s happening with the Crypto market thanks to the ETFs, Bitcoin’s halving, and the explosion of memecoins is giving life to a new era of crypto. Music hasn’t really gotten in on the action yet and Web3 remains a bit of a dirty word. I expect it to be back en vogue sooner rather than later.

Super-serving the Super Fan: As the major DSPs continue to over-saturate, artist-driven subscriptions are raising their hands. Not all fans are created equal and from Weverse to Volt, this is a huge growth area that the industry is focused on. This effort could create a paradigm-shifting business. The answer might be right in front of our face. Goldman Sachs estimates that a full monetization of the music superfan market could increase the music industry’s revenue by approximately $4 billion based on the (perhaps aggressive) estimate that 20% of streaming subs are superfans with a much deeper appetite for spending on their favorite artists. 

Lunar-cy: In Q1 we heard a lot of talk about the moon. Even music was taken to the moon. With the solar eclipse next week and more space travel plans, this is an area for the music business to consider cashing in on. Brands are headed in that direction, too. You can buy ad space on the moon now. What’s your ultimate moon shot? 

The music industry’s piece of the creator economy: Another big theme of the 2020’s has been the creator economy. Artists are learning how to leverage their platforms to launch products and brands, and create content with brands in mind. Brand partnerships are on the rise! 

Artist franchises: We saw the Marvel model impact the music industry. There are more and more sequels dropping as a marketing trend.   

Amateur music sensations: Covered this, too, but the amateur music market is on the rise and the floor for creation has risen. 

Rappers are sports commentators and athletes are podcasters: This is a very fun development. From Mase and Cam’ron reuniting to launch their sports commentary show “Come Talk To Me,” to Snoop Dogg agreeing to be a commentator for the Olympics, this is a trend we all need because rappers are the best storytellers! On top of that, we’re seeing more athletes – like the Kelce Brothers, Shannon Sharpe, and the  Roommate Show with our favorite young Knicks – launching great podcasts.

Special events delivered: Awards shows and tentpole events like the Grammys, Oscars, the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and the surging Women’s March Madness tourney, all rated very high. People care about these monster media moments.

In the business of music and marketing, the trends are our friends. Being on the pulse of culture is important and being able to make crazy ideas come to life is a calling card. The intersection of music and literally anything else works! In that right, two big events for me this week are the new Slick Rick album and Walemania. 

We forged a three-way partnership between Slick Rick, PacSun, and Roblox that dropped last week with in stores and in the metaverse. Buy the limited edition capsule collection here

Walemania is a tried and true example of music’s cross-pollination. The intersection of Hip-hop and wrestling has been a winner time and again, and this year we have all sorts of special guests, brand partners, and tricks up our sleeve. Thank you to Golden Voice for being our partner on this. You can still get tickets here before they are all gone. Maybe it will give you some ideas for how to integrate music into your next big thing…

Share on: