Music industry predictions are entertaining. Music futurist claim to know what’s going to happen fifty years from now and labels declare to know the upcoming market trends. Nobody knows! Nobody can predict tomorrow much less what will be embraced in the marketplace two weeks from now. Despite all of these prophecies, frequent readers know I still like to make yearly predictions. In 2011, I went a little wild making bold, totally unjustified claims. Some predictions happened, some didn’t. To the contrary, in 2012 I stepped upped my game. Still making outlandish claims, but this time the claims were justified with seemingly unimportant statistics and practical work experience. Many of these predictions turned into industry fact (Psy, I’m still waiting on my YouTube royalties), others are still developing and some bombed. This year, instead of jumping off the deep end, I’m making predictions which prove more practical. In doing so I’m making three predictions for 2013 but this year’s forecast is applicable to artists, managers, app developers, attorneys and labels.
1. New Mainstream Genres Will Be Created
The amount of new genres generated each year really doesn’t impact the overall industry landscape. Now, I’m a proponent of niche markets, which the industry doesn’t lack, but rarely (if ever) do niche genres change the overall mainstream music economy and landscape. The big genres (ie. The Big Five) remain consistent: Pop, Rock, Rap/Hip-Hop, Alternative and Country. This year however things will change. Acts have already tackled the mainstream marketplace essentially operating as genre nomads. Seattle white boy rap, Columbus Schizoid Pop, Nigerian alternative, Scandinavian soul/country – all have roots totally disconnected from the Big Five. Not only do most of these genres reach a mainstream audience, their also blazing new genre classifications which impact the creative path of upcoming bands. What’s interesting is that the influence is no longer coming out of the Big Five, it’s coming from the genre homeless. For new artists and/or labels, don’t conform to fit the current market – there’s a place for you, I promise.
2. Watch Out World – Here Comes Africa
Until now, the continent of Africa has essentially remained untouched by the music industry. Due to the rapid revenue decline from majors and traditional industry related businesses, these companies are starving for dollars. Hungry mouths see the most heavenly oasis within the continent of Africa. Let’s first discuss some surfaces statistics: Africa has an expanding middle class, 65% of this middle class is under the age of 35, and it’s the second largest continent and the second most populated. Now, let’s go under the surface with some music related stats: iTunes will launch in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana during 2013, the continents largest mobile subscriber (Africa MTN) is twice the size of the largest subscriber in the U.S., mobile sales in Nigeria alone totaled over $150 million. Want more? The largest film industry in the world resides in Africa, which also has it’s own internet channel attracting 25 million views per month, A&R departments have been rapidly signing domestic artists geared for global takeover, and pretty much everything on the radio consists of domestic talent compared to figures in 1999-2000 where 80% of radio was foreign talent. What does this all mean? For starters, the digital marketplace is about to become a warzone. Secondly, it means there’s an industry infrastructure in Africa. Even though international success has been occupied with North American A-list talent, the foundation is now there for all types of global acts, regardless of their industry status. Indie bands struggling to make a buck in North America or Europe now have the opportunity to penetrate the second largest continent in the world. Tour season has the potential to be endless, label options multiplied for artists; and sync possibilities has exploded for all types of artists with the built in movie partner of Nollywood. Wherever you are, and whatever you do, make certain Africa is a target for your 2013 career progression.
3. Label Contracts Will Change
Last year brought a flood of new “non-traditional labels” into the industry. Not only has the industry had to embrace these newcomers, many of these labels continuously generate mainstream success by out performing the majors. The legal structures behind these label deals are so pro artists that they’ve been dubbed “The Ant-360 Deal.” In no conceivable formula can major labels continue to offer traditional, multi-rights deals and compete with these new non-traditional, anti-360 offers. The once justified trump card presented by majors, “we have more success than non-traditional labels” is no longer valid. These new label players will inevitably change the contractual landscape. Changes will result in better deals, more transparency and creative support from major labels, otherwise the entire contractual label landscape as seen today will drastically change.
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