Foursquare up, Pandora Down, MySpace Out: Grand Predictions About Digital Music Trends in 2011

Categories: Open Thread
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NME's deputy editor Luke Lewis published an interesting article about the future of digital music last week.

Lewis made a list of 10 insightful music predictions regarding what the developments of digital music might entail in 2011, and I've got to hand it to him, he did a great job and taught me a lot. But I've got some more commentary to add to his list of predictions.

1. Streaming will stop looking like the future.
In Lewis' opinion, streaming music for free through sites like Pandora won't be such a widely available option in 2011. Music streaming services never really made much money, if any at all. It turns out that free streaming isn't very profitable, which is why so many music streaming companies like Last.fm have been losing tons of money over the past few years...what a shocker. The United States hasn't generally welcomed the music service Spotify with open arms since American record labels are hungry for a payoff, as they should be. But if music streaming services were never particularly profitable, and there was never a big piece of the pie to claim as a competitive new music streaming service, then why do so many of those companies exist?

2. Piracy will flourish.
That's certainly not good. But Lewis is right: less legal free access to music will lead to more illegal downloading. As long as record industry executives can't figure out how to turn pirates into people who rightly pay, the music business is will still be going downhill as far as purchasing music goes.

3. Bands will stop using MySpace.
What?! No, never! Just kidding, I'm thrilled for this day to come. Can't bands just have their own websites rather than using a host website? It's not like 150 results for "Dave Matthews Band" will come up in a MySpace Music search, but this idea would help lesser known bands get found in searches more easily in my opinion. Lewis also points out that the direction of online music promotion is shifting from MySpace to Facebook. While that's not rocket science since social networking has already made a general shift from MySpace to Facebook, he's observant, and I think he's right: the number of bands putting themselves out there on Facebook is growing at a rapid rate. He also mentions a service for musicians called RootMusic, and man, it looks fantastic. RootMusic enables artists to pimp the hell out of their Facebook music page, sort of in the same fashion that MySpace used to, except it actually looks professional, classy and awesome, plus it fits in with the format of Facebook. The basic page model is free, and it seems really easy to set up. And... wait for it... RootMusic even provides royalties for artists. Jackpot.

4. Gig-going will become more social.
"But concerts are already a social activity," you're saying. Don't be too quick; Lewis has more to say than just that. He believes more people will use applications like FourSquare. I can't stand those services. They're creepy, and for some reason, people seem to think they're important enough that everyone should know where they are at all times. I don't give a crap that you're out at Jay-Z's show if I'm not there too. But dig this: Lewis introduces us to a website called Tastebuds, a dating site based on musical preferences. Considering that guys who don't know much about music substantially lose my interest, I initially wanted to know where has that site been all my life, but then I remembered that people's favorite artists are listed on their Facebook page. Tastebuds is still a cool concept though, and it could get more people to go to concerts, which would provide a small monetary boost for your favorite artists.

5. Google Music will arrive... and won't make much difference.
What the hell is Google Music, and why haven't I ever heard of it? Apparently Google is planning to launch a music store of their own, but, as Lewis points out, what's the point? iTunes has already conquered the music market and has had the upper hand for 10 years or so. But Google Music could be a great alternative option for anyone who doesn't care for iTunes. As for everyone else who is satisfied with using iTunes though, if you like iTunes then why make the switch to Google Music? As my dad always tells me, if it's not broken, don't fix it.

6. Corporate tie-ins will abound.
Some bands have been utilizing corporate partnerships to launch their music. Pamplamoose gained publicity by performing in holiday Hyundai commercials. San Francisco Weekly poses a great debate: is that sort of method great for getting your band name out there, or is it selling out?

7. Music videos will get more interactive.
My pick for the best music video of 2010 is customizable, which is fascinating, especially on the first run-through. Lewis says we'll probably see more of these types of music videos in 2011. I'd say this is a positive change. Here's to increased creativity by music video directors.

8. Fan-funding will go mainstream.
I don't see the idea of fan funding going very far. While the name-your-own-price model in regards to paying for albums seems to be effective, fan funding otherwise doesn't seem very realistic to me. Are people really willing to shell out money to help their favorite band make it big?

9. Music apps will suck less.
That's great news. The creators of music applications have been stepping up their game lately to the point where a band can play a gig on their iPhones like Atomic Tom did on a New York City subway. However, if music apps are already so good that a band like Gorillaz can make a sufficiently decent album on an iPad, then I don't see why music apps need to improve further.

10. Downloads will get cheaper.
Amazon often has music download deals in which an entire album can be downloaded for something like five dollars. They're selling some hit songs for just 69 cents too. Will lower download prices promote more sales, or will people only buy what they want or need and nothing else? Furthermore, what if digital downloads of full albums regularly start costing less?

So many aspects of the music industry are constantly changing. What's your take on the future of digital music in 2011?

While you're discussing, check out the future of music promotion via Facebook with a deeper look into RootMusic.




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6 comments
linaimai
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Jose Gonzalez
Jose Gonzalez

I think I slightly disagree when it comes to streaming music.

Instead of streaming music stopping as the way we listen to music in the future, I think it will just shift gears, namely by having the ability to stream from our own personal collections that we'll be able to store online and have access to from anywhere.

I think Pandora is awesome for music discovery, but once iTunes is finally is able to allow people to upload all their music to the cloud to be accessible from any device, that's the next level of the game. It might take Google Music to force that hand (A - Who would be better able to stream music from the cloud than Google? B - That could be the thing that distinguishes GMusic from iTunes.), but it'll come either way.

Right now, Rdio is a middle of the way there. You have access to music that you want (only limited by who licenses with Rdio - and there are definitely some holes there) via the web or iPhone / Android. While you can't upload your music, it can catalog it for you to make sure that it's available in your personal online musical library (again, as long as they have the license for it).

I never thought I'd consider some kind of music subscription service (Rdio is $4.99 to $9.99 per month), but between what Rdio is and the early adopters that I know who love it, I'm definitely thinking about it.

In any case, once we can upload our own collections to the cloud, someone will make it social (similar to last.fm, hypem, etc. and iTunes Ping) and it'll be a more rounded out way to listen to and discover music.

2. Piracy: Yep - piracy will flourish as long as there isn't an easy, decently priced way to get certain content.

3. Yep - MySpace will finally die off. Most bands & musicians seem to have figured out how easy it is to run their own site, while also maintaining presence on ReverbNation, BootCamp, and SoundCloud. And yeah, any app that makes posting music on Facebook is definitely another nail in the coffin.

4. Gig-going more social? I don't think it's gonna get much more social than it is right now with Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare or Gowalla. I've been using FourSquare for a while and it really seems like the early adopter set is just using it less. There aren't any huge advantages to taking time (even if it's only a minute or two) to check in when something's going on. I think the only time people might take time to tweet or check in more frequently are at big fests.

5. Re: Google Music - I think it'll end up flourishing and doing decently if it happens in 2011. If they can make it seamless with all of the Android devices around (phones, tablets), it'll be a winner. That can be a big if.

All of the rest - I'm pretty much agree with ...

Xander
Xander

1. Yes and no. Streaming was a good start, but the biggest obstacle to battle are the Record Companies that are still charging stupidly high licensing fees, letting corporate radio skid by on pennies for major acts and singles. "New" pop songs may kill the future of steaming for pop, but for everyone else, it's still a great way to get your stuff out there to en-masses, hopfully making bigger fans along the way.

2. Fuck yes it will. With every new DRM system, they're going to be 10 ways to break it before tomorrow. It's how technology works. (and how real innovation springs to life).

3. Meh. Bands should use any and all tools avilable to them, mySpace included.

4. True, but to an extent. If you're into the death metal scene, there's a clause on the back of your ticket that grants anyone the right to punch you in the face if you're txting in the middle of a pit of people. I'm a fan of twitter, but only in moderation. There's a time and place for everything!

5. Maybe true, but can't say for sure.

6. Yes, but there will be a conflict with Prediction 8. Corporate sponsorship isn't a bad thing overall if done tastefully, and Pamplamoose didn't really gain alot of fans from being anonymous during those ads. If you like Pamplamoose, then you "get it". If you never heard of them, then the ads didn't mean anything either. (Note, they got more press about their Christmas album that required a purchase/donation to their local library. The new library has so many books now that they're taking donations for a storage room to hold the new books for once the new wing is completed.)

7. Depends, but agreed. Expect about 20 videos in total this year that are interactive. (Quick plug for Lemon Demon's Haircut song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... ) greatest 15mins you'll spend in listening to all the lyrics.

8. Yes, very yes. Sites like Kickstarter has not only become places for local and Indy artists to connect with their fans, but also for them to gain new ones. Best of all, Fan funding is what converts pirates to customers and releases the artist from having to become suffocated by the corporate machine. Even better is that the funding works both ways as a artist only needs to fufill the promises of the funding, and anything left over can be used on whatever projects they decide to go for. Of course, larger acts won't show up here, but for the smaller acts looking to make it big, it's a wonderful and welcomed tool.

9. Yes, but apps won't stop all the sudden. Once we reach the limit, someone else will come out and break all we know of once more. In other words, this is expected.

10. God I hope so. The TRON MP3 album that Amazon had for 3$ restored my faith in Daft Punk, and got me in the perfect mood to watch the movie in IMAX glory. Most smaller artist already have a Bandcamp and have the right idea. The price per song and per album cannot be the same thing, for a 10 second clip or a 15 minute epic. But overall, you want to sell the albums, not the single tracks to create the longtime fans.

linaimai
linaimai

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linaimai
linaimai

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