The music industry has been undergoing rapid shifts since the turn of the century, including the advent of mobile technology, streaming, and file sharing just to name a few. Ten years from now, the business of music will no doubt look differently than it does today, in a variety of ways. 

Bob Lefsetz has a new article where he discusses some of these inevitable changes. These include:

  • Old “heritage” rock acts will be gone. Although bands like the Eagles and the Rolling Stones are still touring, many of these heritage classic-rock touring acts like Springsteen and Paul McCartney won’t be touring a decade from now as they approach, or will be, in their 80’s (McCartney specifically will be 80 next year). Rock may very likely follow the footsteps of jazz music, which peaked and then died a slow, painful death commercially, and although there’s still an audience for it, it doesn’t command the same cultural relevancy.
  • Artists will maximize their revenue opportunities. Streaming may not yield decent payouts for up and coming artists, but there is still plenty of opportunity to increase profit potential for bands, musicians, and songwriters with publishing, record deals, endorsements, podcasts, and many other opportunities. Social media can and will also open up other chances to cross-collateralize their brands.
  • Live music will look different. Venues for live music are becoming increasingly rare, and many bars and live music venues were permanently shuttered during COVID. With the ability for bands and musicians to broadcast live from their phones, we’ll be seeing more “bedroom broadcasts” and subscription-based value-added perks for consumers that support their favorite bands. As the industry shifts back to a single-based model, many artists may pivot to focusing on writing and recording one hit song rather than large scale touring.
  • A hit is a hit. The idea of what constitutes a “hit song” means songs that people know–whether they’re heard in a Netflix show, a video game, or a commercial, if people “know” it, it’s a hit when the public says it’s a hit. Social media virality will definitely impact this phenomenon.
  • Hype and reality. Younger generations of music consumers are less likely to fall for marketing hype. There’s no longer a “one size fits all” template for connecting fans to artists–with the fragmentation of media, companies will need to be increasingly forward-thinking about how to best engage with an audience they may not understand, and whose needs they’ll need to grasp.
  • E sports, not real sports. Football and basketball have lost large swaths of their monolithic hold over sporting culture for a variety of reasons. In this tech generation, more and more kids are tuning to video games, playing online, and livestreaming their experiences. Expect to see more artists being promoted within an E-sports environment.
  • Bigger stage shows. As ticket prices for megastar acts continue to rise, audiences can (and do) expect more bang for their buck. No more bands just getting up on stage and playing their songs–live shows now regularly include stellar sound systems, light shows, huge stages, pyro, dancers, video elements, and other interactive features designed to justify the often outrageous ticket prices.