True, 2020 was a forgettable year for everyone, especially those in the music industry. However, 2021 promises renewed hope to artists, music producers, and everyone else involved in music creation, marketing, and dissemination.
Halfway in the year, music experts exhale a sigh of relief about where the industry is heading. Why? Here are ten music trends in 2021 every artist and music-loving soul can look forward to.
1. Music Livestreaming on Social Media
Thanks to the increased availability and ease of use of audio interfaces and other advanced music production equipment, artists today can perform in the comforts of their homes. They can stream their gigs and performances across multiple social media platforms, reaching fans wherever they are.
Billboard says self-quarantining artists and musical institutions are flocking to the virtual world to showcase their talents. The Recording Industry Association of America also reported that 83% of music revenues in 2020 – worth $10.1 billion – came from streaming services, a 13.4% from 2019.
Now, artists are live streaming on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other popular social media platforms to wow the weary world. Experts say it can only get better.
2. The Rise of the Indies
One great thing about the music industry is that anyone with a musical gift, commitment, perseverance, and dedication can significantly impact the music-loving world.
Statista reports that there were more than 1,500 independent musicians in 2019 in the US alone. In 2018, the number was only 1,290, generating a 21% increase. Rolling Stone also said that indie artists generated at least $2 billion in 2020.
With the pandemic not showing any signs of abating, it is clear that independent artists will find more opportunities to showcase their gifts.
3. Music Documentaries and Visual Albums
Visual albums have been around since 2013, when Beyonce first contemplated surprising her fans with 17 standalone videos to go with her 14 Beyonce tracks. However, the Beatles of the 1960s were the first to incorporate mini-films in their albums.
The resurgence of music documentaries and visual albums is now more apparent with big-name artists looking to unleash their visual creativity.
Lady Gaga, Shawn Mendes, Harry Styles, and Ariana Grande are only a few of the many contemporary artists who now use visual storytelling in their albums.
4. Sophisticated Music Recommendations
In the past, one has to have an excellent memory to retrieve and play a favorite song. Today, music consumers only need to ask their mobile devices, and the artificial intelligence within automatically searches and plays the song.
Amazon’s Alexa and other AI voice assistants feature advanced algorithms that make music recommendations in a flash. The algorithm recommends music based on the time of day or one’s mood. It can also provide music based on what music consumers love listening to.
It is a high-tech way to enjoy music, and it is only going to get more exciting.
5. New and Expanded Revenue Streams for Artists
The ongoing pandemic pushed artists and music labels to think of alternative ways to generate revenue. Live concerts and performances are still a big no-no in the new normal.
Music industry pundits say alternative revenue streams will separate the one-hit wonders from the true music entrepreneurs.
An excellent example is Taylor Swift’s switching from her pop-country sound to something more diversified. The pop icon now includes brand merchandise and bonus tracks to her creations.
6. Breakout Artists for TV and Movie Soundtracks
Netflix and other video streaming services are teaming up with well-known artists to develop their movie soundtracks. While this is not a new phenomenon, the increasing number of small-name movie production outfits impacts artists’ projects.
For instance, Netflix’s Someone Great featured the 2017 Lizzo song, Truth Hurts. The collaboration propelled the artist’s music to the Billboard Hot 100 within weeks after Netflix airing.
The year 2021 will see more of these collaborations, allowing artists to thrive many years after their music.
7. Genre Crossover
Music consumers today expect novelty from their favorite artists. They want more of Bee Gees, Michael Bolton, and Katty Perry. These artists are a few of the growing number of musicians who can perform in more than one music genre.
A more recent addition is Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road, a country and hip-hop song that wowed the crowd in 2019.
With the increasing demand for diversity, artists will expand their musical talents beyond their music genre comfort zones.
8. Unconventional Music Playlists
The traditional way of making a playlist involves categorizing songs according to the music genre. Today, music streaming services use high-tech algorithms to curate music attuned to music listeners’ idiosyncrasies, prevailing moods, cultural preferences, and lifestyles.
Spotify’s POLLEN playlist is an excellent example of this unconventional method of play-listing. With 156 songs spanning nine hours, POLLEN is a genre-less playlist, focusing more on setting the mood.
It is an exciting way for independent artists and lesser-known music genres to rise.
9. More Customer-centric Music Companies
While record labels are famous for listening to their customers’ needs, other organizations in the music industry are reorienting their business priorities.
For example, Fender’s Leo Fender emphasized the importance of listening and understanding the company’s audience more than anything else. The guitar brand now has Fender Play on Spotify and other customer-centric digital services down the pipeline.
The future is bright for everyone in the music industry, from manufacturers of musical instruments to artists, small music groups, and more.
10. Advanced Sampling Technologies
The year 2021 also ushered in more advanced sampling technologies, allowing music creators to produce music as effortlessly as one can imagine.
A case in point is UJAM’s Beatmaker 2.0 that empowers music producers to manage MIDI loops on the fly. Traditional samplers have limited flexibility, restricting producers from creating meaningful and customer-centric music.
From here on, artists and music creators can look forward to fascinating sampling and looping technologies. Everything will be for the music consumer’s ultimate enjoyment.
The music industry can start forgetting the year that was and look forward to where it is heading. These ten music trends in 2021 are vital signs that excite and invigorate everyone in the industry. From artists and music producers to music consumers, everyone can feel the pulsating beat of an alive-and-kicking music scene.
About the Author
Charles Vallena is the author, and editor-in-chief of Guitar Junky, an online music blog dedicated to helping aspiring musicians become real musicians. He provides expert insights, guides, lessons, and reviews on acoustic guitars, keyboard, drums, and other music instruments. Follow Guitar Junky on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.