Presently, we find ourselves amidst a significant transformation within the music industry, a cycle that tends to repeat approximately every decade. These shifts stem from both a necessity for change and technological advancements that reshape the landscape.
The 1990s brought the CD and digital recording, while the 2000s saw the rise of the MP3 format and downloading. The 2010s marked the transition to ”renting” music through streaming services. By 2020, we were poised for further changes, but the sudden impact of Covid-19 caused unprecedented disruptions, particularly affecting the live music sector, which had never before experienced such a setback. Existing partnerships and alliances were fractured.
In the aftermath of Covid-19, the full extent of these transformations was not immediately apparent, as many entities managed to weather the storm through grants. Only now are we beginning to witness the true scope of these changes, accelerated by the emergence of new technology with the potential to revolutionize the industry: artificial intelligence (AI).
In the present landscape, the ability to play a musical instrument, sing, or craft lyrics is no longer essential for creating a song. Instead, proficiency in guiding AI algorithms and a discerning ear for making adjustments to achieve the desired sound are crucial. Paired with shifts in the live music sector, these developments make for an intriguing and dynamic environment.
Many traditional job roles and professions within the industry may become obsolete. Already, signs of panic are visible, such as major record labels prohibiting the use of AI by their staff. These labels are likely to transform into just companies with old songs, capitalizing on their catalog of existing hits before the anticipated shift in 2030. Several prominent labels are grappling with staff who are adept at generating social media buzz but lack the skills to cultivate meaningful music. The role of A&R (Artists and Repertoire) is clearly diminishing, with those who excel at song detection and artist development transitioning into consultant roles bolstered by extensive networks.
Record labels will likely evolve into entities primarily responsible for managing income from various streaming services, rather than fostering artistic growth. Similarly, music publishers will experience a metamorphosis. The conventional practice of sequestering songwriters in small cubicles to create music will likely lose relevance. Instead, the future of songwriting will involve a more communal and decentralized process, as evidenced by instances like the TikTok-driven surge of ”Bloody Mary” by Lady Gaga. The songwriters will be in clusters or teams worldwide.
The paradigm of songs enjoying widespread global recognition will shift, with a focus on smaller, interconnected groups or ”clusters” of listeners. This trend is already emerging. The individuals responsible for generating such clusters will take center stage, replacing the role of those who previously aimed for mass appeal. The established model of collecting societies will face significant challenges as their traditional methods of monitoring and collecting royalties encounter difficulties in the digital realm.
Amidst this sea of change, many local heroes and high-ranking executives may face displacement within the next few years. While some acknowledge this impending reality with apprehension, others may choose to deny their potential obsolescence. The weird part is I can easily read who it will be just on your Linkedin.
Observing this perfect storm, I am inspired to develop a tool that can trim the proverbial fat from the industry. It’s already in my hand and I just quit so many projects and jobs to just fully develop it. This will entail making challenging decisions and potentially disappointing those unable to keep pace with the evolving demands. Yet, it is an essential undertaking, particularly as we construct new networks that will redefine and disrupt the future of the music industry. Like what my wise friend always says. Many will be calling, and few will be selected. I’m a trailblazer and have always been so the job has to be done. Sorry if you are left behind, but like Eminem wrote, Look, if you had one shot, and one opportunity. To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip?