6 Music Industry Predictions For 2012

While staring down the barrel of 2012, attempting to forecast the upcoming roller coaster year the music industry will certainly deliver seems like an impossible assignment. However I have the ability to see into the future. I’m not necessarily clairvoyant, a prophet, a physic if you will, rather I have a very specific method. What’s this method you ask? It’s a complex algorithm I sketched on the back of a cereal box that only my dog Francesca, the hair model / adult Justin Bieber lookalike in the attached photo and I understand.

Many cast criticism regarding the humdrum nature of my 2011 industry predictions so this year I’m going for broke. None of this “I predict decreasing album sales with increasing digital sales” type business, I’m going all out. Due to these bold presumptions I’m cutting the list in half, highlighting 6 things to watch for in 2012. Spin the roulette wheel folks because I doubt these predictions made anyone’s industry shortlist.

1. Vegas Baby, Vegas

Venture around the globe and genre classifications change. Sometimes the change is subtle, sometimes not. For instance, music classified as blues in the United States packs a consistent expectation whether you’re traveling to Australia or Thailand. Other genres fluctuate in terms of musical consistency. Pop music in the U.K. doesn’t necessarily correlate with U.S. Pop. Finnish rock defers from Spanish rock, etc. Few genres speak one global language but electronica has struck a worldly cord. Call it house music, electronic, dance or electronica, regardless, from Oslo to Detroit, electronic music reaches the same audience and speaks the same language. Now more than ever the once underground genre has thrust itself onto the U.S. main stage. Combating once negative stereotypes and dismal sales figures that detoured label interest, electronic has now eliminated the negative overtone. Electronic fans are a globally united group and brands are looking to align with the movement. The hottest sector of live music business today is electronica. Acts consistently sell out 2,500 – 5,000 capacity rooms and have weaseled into iconic arenas such as Madison Square Garden. Perhaps the most staggering of all statistics is the fact The Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas drew 230,000 attendees. The estimated economic impact for the 3 day festival generated over $136 million for business – including hotels, restaurants, and transportation – and over $8.9 million in tax revenue. The 2012 festival has already sold out. Using Sin City as a litmus test for success may be in order. Las Vegas experienced devastating economic woes in the past years and shifting fate to the tune of $136 million in the course of 72 hours doesn’t go unnoticed. With a passionate, party going, money hungry city built around gimmicks, Vegas will likely take full advantage of the fact they have more 2,500+ seat music venues and clubs crammed into a 135.8 square mile radius than anywhere else – essentially a prime foundation for an electronica fan base. Las Vegas will become to electronic music what Nashville has become to country music. Sure the transition will takes years to fulfill, however I estimated 2012 will be the year Las Vegas begins their electronica branding campaign by increasing artist/city integration, tour stops and festivals.

2. America Insulates

For Americans, American culture is cool again. People have gravitated back to the “Made in America” campaign. Supporting local musicians, funding artistic communities, generating unheard local genres and buying local has become mainstream. The wave will inevitable effect the underground music scene – strengthening artists with full communal support that lacked in previous years. I don’t envision global impact from this movement but as Americans continue to buy American products, small town U.S. will strengthen the local music scene, possibly effecting sales from major international artists looking to build upon the generic American fan base. Look for an increase in locally owned/operated labels and for radio programming to focus upon more local artists.

3. Claiming Stake In Bands

I predicted big things in 2011 from artist/company relationships and fully believe 2012 will bring something much more invigorating. The relationships between artist/company exist on numerous levels. The extreme, monetary based partnership such as the ones between Lady Gaga & Virgin Mobile, Foo Fighters & Blackberry, Taylor Swift & Covergirl, or Method Man & Sour Patch Kids – all the way down to the creative corporate underwriting evident of Converse’s Rubber Tracks Studio which assist indie group with funding projects – corporations are deeply involved with music. These relationships, like everything in the music industry constantly evolve into new creative models. Regardless of old models or new models, two aspects will forever remain consistent – (1) corporations can provide massive visibility for artist, and (2) the high priced Lady Gaga’s of the world and brands willing to invest millions even if they can’t prove how songs (or artist) sells a single product for them, are a rarity. If a company can’t afford to shell out a $2 million endorsement advance but they can provide bands with a visibility platform to reach 17 million people within a target demographic, stock options, or opportunity to help grow -what indie band wouldn’t accept this partnership? Expect to see deeper indie artist /company relationships, one where companies assist with release strategies in a nontraditional way. This allows bands to target niche markets more effectively using Direct 2 Fan (D2F) methods, and subsequently allowing companies to piggyback grassroots indie marketing strategies through an organically generated progression as opposed to simply buying endorsements.

4. Touring Reaches Conflict

Festival & tours reached blockbuster numbers in 2011, however following the 2012 summer concert season I believe the table will be set for extraordinary conflict. Why? Nobody’s happy. Nobody (unless you’re Australia). Promoters feel artist charge too much, fans believe ticket prices have spiraled to unthinkable amounts, promoters bitch that they’re in the red after every show and artists think 360 deals eat up everyone’s bottom dollar. However the real kicker…..wait for it…… insurance rates will climb to unconscionable levels due to the traumatic concert events that plagued 2011. Further, several countries have implemented new security regulations driving cost out of whack. Nobody is happy.

5. Non Traditional Labels Explode

Record labels at their core perform three duties: produce music, market music, and distribute music. Sure, hundreds of additional components exist, but these three pillars are the foundation to any label. What happens if one of these components is irrelevant? What about two? Essentially anyone could play their hand in the label game if they perform one of the three components efficiently – right? Take a look at William Street Records, the label for Cartoon Networks. The label has nothing to do with music (other than the fact they use it), they don’t produce music, and in many cases they don’t have traditional distribution but they do have a marketing platform. By incorporating music during network bumps, television programs, etc. Williams Street Records can expose music to millions of followers within a centralized creative platform they control. Why should they pay a multitude of labels and publishers for artist services when it can be controlled in-house? The network doesn’t know music – they develop cartoons but nobody cares. Because the label has a TV network at their disposal, they can do certain things that major or indie labels can’t – such as air 30 second spots as frequently as they want, feature music videos, generated animated characters for shows, all while targeting a specific demographic of 18-34. In today’s age where artists are equipped with the necessary tools to produce their own albums, they can reach fans immediately via Direct 2 Fan platforms, etc., why should they seek a traditional label? Running a label today isn’t necessarily about maximizing sales rather it’s about creative control and efficiency which nontraditional outlets provide.

6. K-Pop Launches in The United States

Until now K-Pop has hit the U.S. marketplace with little success. According to Nielsen SoundScan, typical sales for larger K-Pop artists struggle to top 3,000 units within the States. So why will K-Pop explode in 2012? K-Pop was merely introduced to the U.S. market in 2011. In 2012 the mild mannered music fan will become attracted to the genre simply because K-Pop has penetrated the mainstream media. Additionally, K-Pop artists are highly professional and strategically structured to appeal to the 5.8% niche of the American culture. It brings ownership to Asian Pacific Americans looking for their mainstream musical voice in the American pop-infested market. Further, powerful organizations endorse K-Pop music as a means to spread Pacific culture. With endorsements surrounding tourism and cultural exports; I can assure you the genre will not quietly fade away.

Want more? Stay connected:

@frascognamusic or mff@frascognalaw.com

About Mfrascog