The Music Business Recession Solution

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency


It was all good four weeks ago, or at least it seemed. Now nearly a month into quarantine, NYC feels like the belly of the beast.

I’m keeping my eyes and ears open, surveying what’s happening online like a cultural anthropologist. We’re all hopeful the world will re-open by summer, but we can’t be sure. I’m seeing new events and bookings pop up for August. Will the show go on in 2020? I can’t call it.COVID-19 has taken a massive toll on our society with uncertainties and disappointments piling up day after day. The music business is clearly not immune.

The government relief package — the largest of its kind in American history — includes a bundle of programs assisting small businesses, contractors, and unemployed workers. Despite many progressive victories in the deal, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be a huge help to artists or the rest of the industry’s 99%. As powerful a connector as music is, the entertainment industry isn’t exactly atop the government’s list for essential intervention.

So how will the industry handle the coming recession?

My colleague Clay Durant and I batted around some ideas over the weekend and penned an article that addresses this question in detail. More on this soon.

The topline takeaways are:

  • Doubling down on recorded music by leaning on advertisers: although brand spending is way down at the moment, brand partnerships will play a big role in helping the music industry bounce back from this.
  • Greater consolidation: we realize it’s harder than ever to survive as an indie and, sadly, we predict more consolidation as the big companies with cash flow are well-positioned to snatch up boutique players and bring their specializations in-house.
  • Encouraging the private sector to invest further in music: the downturn is a great opportunity to not only support the arts but to encourage innovation and pump VC dollars into the music-tech space.
  • Embracing new technologies that will connect us virtually: the revolution is being live-streamed and new formats are starting to flourish with stadium-sized crowds. This is only the beginning.
  • Using downtime to create: fresh music, especially “hits,” are the lifeblood of this business. What’s written during the bear will become the backbone of the bull. There will be no shortage of breakout art and talent once things get under control.


– Jesse K.

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