A Deeper Look Into What the Music Industry Has In Store for 2018

In this article, ItsNoRequests' Austin Staubus shares his predictions about what big changes will come to the music industry in 2018.

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Spotify will continue to scale out their paid userbase, leaving Apple Music and Tidal in the dust. Tidal will buckle and be sold off into component parts. Apple Music will continue to play second fiddle to Spotify, failing to innovate or offer anything new. Spotify will go public towards the middle of the year, cementing its dominant position in the marketplace. Amazon Music will begin to close the gap on Apple Music, becoming a strong third contender.

Soundcloud continues to lose relevancy and users to Spotify, Apple, and Amazon Music despite earnest attempts to roll out playlists and re-launch their discovery tools. Spotify will roll out the ability for DJ’s to post mixes on the platform, sealing Soundcloud’s fate. Mixcloud will step into Soundcloud’s place and languish in relative obscurity.

The major EDM stories of the year will be more DJ’s charting private planes, future house becomes unfashionable, more Youtube channels launch labels, nu-disco gains ground, and you’ll be able to pay for that overpriced festival ticket with the cryptocurrency of your choice.

Traditional press outlets and blogs continue to bleed out. Consumers prefer to discover and consume music through playlists. The record review becomes superfluous. Facebook becomes a play to play platform, further reducing blogs organic reach on the platform. Blogs struggle to turn a profit under a crumbling advertising industrial complex.

Dance heavyweights like The Magician, Don Diablo, and MK will begin to buck the traditional dance format, collaborating with crossover pop acts and hip-hop artists.

Artists will continue to question the major label value proposition, preferring to stay independent. Terrestrial radio will see more consolidation as platforms like Spotify, Apple, and Amazon Music continue to decimate it. Radio fails to replace it aging userbase, stuck with a listenership that still purchases albums on iTunes and at physical retailers like Target and Walmart. Radio continues to be a confirmation of the hits, made solely on streaming services.

Snapchat continues to have their lunch eaten by Instagram. Facebook will roll out the same features as Snapchat, and do it better. Artists no longer reach any of their fans without spending a small fortune. Artists will move away from Facebook and focus on Instagram, which will eventually suffer the same fate.

Spotify expands on their “RISE” program, signing talent directly, which puts the heat on labels. Spotify hires additional personnel to identify new talent before UMG, Sony, or Warner signs threm. Spotify participates in the streaming revenue and publishing for all of the artists they sign in exchange for guaranteed placements on their highly coveted playlists. Decision makers like Austin Kramer, Mike Biggane, and Tuma Basa become near impossible to reach and wield tremendous influence. They’ll become the most powerful executives in music.

Thanks to smart speakers from SONOS and Amazon, consumers will begin to move away from searching for music through a desktop or mobile devices. Instead, they’ll search via voice, leaving the door open for Amazon Music to realistically compete with Spotify.

Engagement will take priority over plays.

Hip-hop will continue to be the most streamed genre on streaming platforms, followed closely behind by pop and dance. Rock will struggle to gain any real traction or priority on the platform. Country will see a small increase as fans begin to slowly adopt streaming platforms.

User generated playlists will become the new blogs.

Very few artists will release albums. The traditional album format will be reserved for the top 1%. Most artists and labels will opt to release singles throughout the year, hoping that one of them becomes a hit. Labels will continue to split test their own releases, knowing deep down that Spotify, Apple, and Amazon have all the leverage.

Traditional mixing and mastering will be disrupted by growing online audio mastering services like eMastered and Landr.

Decisions on what gets included in playlists and what doesn’t will be made based solely on data alone. Who your manager is, what label you’re signed to, or who you know won’t matter. Spotify won’t support you without the requisite engagement to justify a drag and drop into their playlists.

Spotify and Apple Music will become the only platform that matter in 2018. 

The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of EDM.com

Austin Staubus is the Managing Director of ItsNoRequests, which helps artists, labels, and managers leverage highly engaged independent playlists on Spotify. For inquiries, comments, or questions contact Austin at austin@itsnorequests.com

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