Music’s Next Big Swing

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

There’s a lot happening in the world of music this week. The Clios are tonight, the Grammys are Sunday, and the days in between are slam packed with celebrations for major artists, indies, executives, streaming services, marketers, and law firms. Here’s a good rundown of events.

The industry, on a macro level, has been on a growth trajectory over the past decade. It’s in a very healthy place but, clearly, there are big shifts happening again. A good bellwether was the announcement that music site, Pitchfork, is being folded into GQ. This points to several trends in my view:

+Companies are tightening their belts and firing.
+Streaming has changed the need for music critics and album reviews.
+The algorithm powered by AI is changing curation.
+AI is changing journalism and quality of content.
+Pitchfork’s voice was out of touch and less relevant.

On top of that, Coachella isn’t selling as well as it normally does. Why, you may ask? I think it’s because people are sick of the same old. Notably, streaming’s growth is slowing down, too. The streaming platforms, not unlike the Coachellas of the world, are saturated, and although innovations continue at places like Spotify and Youtube, they won’t likely remain the big growth drivers moving forward.

The music industry needs a new big swing; a new business model; a new breakout idea. So, what could it be? From where I’m sitting, the big opportunities and blue sky are:

Disrupting Tickets – can we please figure out a better way to create collectibles? Barcodes in the Apple wallet are a huge missed opportunity.

Super-serving the Superfans – Not all fans are created equal, so let’s value them accordingly. Better mechanisms for deeper connections can create more value for fans and the broader ecosystem they’re a part of. The fan club will continue to evolve as this space continues to heat up in 2024.

Music and Web3 – No one has gotten close to figuring this out yet. There still hasn’t been a successful model. But after a big correction in the world of crypto, there will be another wave of opportunities to crack the code for mass adoption.

AR / VR – This is going to be an exciting space with Vision Pro, Meta Quest, and A/R V/R experiences. I think there’s a big opportunity for fans and musicians alike.

Artist-Created IP, Brands, and Products – I’m a big believer in this space. Influencers are doing it well and musicians can do it better. Artist experiences can boom, too. I loved the Andre 3000 one-night-only release event in AMCs nationwide. There will be more cool ways to experience artists and their music.

Evolution of Streaming Services – Life after Spotify is coming. Will it be a series of niche sites or another solution? There is room here for the next generation to break out.

Music and Gaming – Love this area. Music and gaming go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Music Marketing – Music is the ultimate connector and an undervalued asset when it comes to brands and campaigns. Music marketing should be a part of every brand’s strategy. It’s highly effective and consistently taking shape in brands’ DNA. This space will continue to grow.

Music AI – It’s a new royalty machine, keeping catalog valuations on the upswing. It’s also a curation tool, creation tool, and marketing services business.

Amateur Market – With AI and social media helping more and more amateur musicians grow, the long tail takes a bigger bulk of the volume, leaving room for marketing services around this new class of music “hobbyists” that move freely around the gatekeepers.

Music Merch Experience – We’re watching the evolution of the artist merch model. Whereas in the past, traditional collaborations were basic name and image licensing on a standard-issue American Apparel tee, we’re beginning to see elevated partnerships extending into culture, i.e. in-store experiential activations, product differentiation (more SKUs, better quality) and colorful storytelling. There is now a greater emphasis on the overall fan experience rather than just a basic brand collaboration.

Metaverse – I’m bullish on Roblox, Fortnite, and the potential for many more in the space. Audiences are there and musicians will follow to help drive the cycle of growth. It’s a good match for an experience.

Enough rambling, let’s get to building! I’ll see you in the mix this week, and back online next Monday with a whole bunch of new memories, creased business cards, and big ideas.

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Also published on Medium.