Guest post by Dave Philp from Music Biz 101 at William Paterson University
It’s easy to recap a particular year since everything already happened. But what about predicting what will take place in a new year? Yeah, that’s hard. When you think about it, the job of a lot of people in the music industry is to predict the future. Isn’t that what agents and promoters do, book artists in venues based upon a prediction of ticket sales? And what about A&R folks? Their job is to predict what kind of artists and what kind of songs the world wants to hear.
In the education world, where this writer is based, predictions are not as popular as dwelling on the past. That’s why history departments are so much a part of a liberal arts curriculum. English teaches about Beowulf and Shakespeare. Cool stuff, but written by humans who have been dead for hundreds of years. Even music theory is based upon chords and sounds and pieces written in the cracked rearview.
We took it upon ourselves here at Music Biz 101 headquarters to ask around the American biz and find out what people are expecting for 2017. You’ll read the thoughts of people working at Rumblefish/Harry Fox Agency, Atlantic Records, A2IM, Warner/Chappell, Tommy Boy Entertainment, and more.
Enjoy the read and then do two things: 1) Comment below with your predictions, and 2) Come back here as 2018 approaches and see what came true and what was way off.
Now, on with the fortune telling!
- John Simson – Executive in Residence. Kogod School of Business, American University; Former Exec. Director of SoundExchange: Will BMI and ASCAP be forced to merge? Each organization has around $120 Million in expenses. A merger would mean an immediate increase of $120 Million to publishers and writers by eliminating the redundancy of effort. The admin fees would drop as they would no longer need to spend to compete vs. each other likely resulting in additional millions in payouts to members.
- Michael Simon – President & CEO of Rumblefish and Harry Fox Agency – 2017: Blockchain gains even more attention yet continues to befuddle all but a limited group of initiates. Late in the year, we see the release of more “protest”-oriented recordings than we’ve heard in a decade.
- Yannick Peary- Director Digital Marketing for Atlantic Records – In 2017, labels (and rights holders) will begin monetizing their digital audiences (site visitors, social followers, etc.) similar to other major media publishers through programmatic ad exchanges and create new industry revenue streams.
- John Butler – VP Promotion for Curb Music – 2017: The Year That Streaming Services Became Radio – Consolidation of streaming services purchased by traditional media companies; Nashville becomes a 3rd coast A&R source for pop music and completely earns the Music City title; CBS spins off and makes Nashville a corporate home
- Jake Ottman – Exec VP of A&R for Warner/Chappell – Because of the explosion of music streaming in 2016 there will be a million new label startups in 2017.
- George Dassinger – CEO, Dassinger Creative – Streaming is the name of the game in 2017 music, yet those older than 30 have only a slight awareness of a music revolution happening as they go about their day-to-day.
- Jerry Lembo – Music Consultant – The Top 10 singles of 2017 will all feature a solo artist, singular songwriter and one producer. And Managing Your Band – 6th Edition will replace All You Need To Know About The Music Business as the #1 Best Seller on Amazon. (Ed. note: Jerry is the best human ever. Read on.)
- Rosie Lopez – President, Tommy Boy Entertainment – 2016 is the year when tech companies openly voiced their desire to become labels and radio stations. Will 2017 be the year when labels disrupt the digital music pipeline and finally invest in launching great apps and platforms that will offer direct access to consumers ala HBO and Netflix? Will micro transactions and blockchain be embraced by the industry as a way to increase revenue and to solve inefficiency in digital content monetization?
- Richard James Burgess, Ph.D., CEO A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) – 2016 was the year when streamed music exceeded any other format. 2017 will be the year when consumers begin to truly define the charts via the algorithmic measurements of the digital services. This will produce another seismic shift that echoes the one that occurred 25 years ago when SoundScan was introduced in 1991. Then we learned that metal, hip-hop, country, and R&B were much more popular than the prior charts indicated. Likewise, we will see currently underrated forms of music surface and begin to dominate. Power to the people!
- Elyse Chamberlain, A&R Talent Scout at Atlantic Records – 2016 showed that more than ever self-produced and independent artists can enjoy mainstream exposure in streaming and touring without the help of major labels or commercial radio. 2017 will continue this trend and we will also see the rise of artists exclusively releasing singles and EPs instead of the traditional album.
On the December 14, 2016 broadcast of Music Biz 101 & More, Digital Music News founder Paul Resnikoff predicted something new and exciting in the vinyl world, but because of time constraints, could not offer specifics related to changes going on with those rotating black spheres.
Doctor Esteban Marcone predicted the AT&T/Time Warner merger would happen, affecting the music biz in a profound way. He also thought some streaming services would either merge or go by the wayside.
What about your Professor David Kirk Philp? Well, on the air he stated there would be more celebrity deaths. 2016 was unusually tough, as we all lost greats like Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Sharon Jones, Maurice White, both the E and the L in ELP (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and so many more.
For this article, Philp will go out on a ledge and state that he (me) thinks we’ll see the big streaming audio services, like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and Pandora, get more into original content. Apple Music and Tidal are getting exclusives already. But I’m talking about creating original content for music, in other words signing and recording talent, and distributing that as a new release under the auspices of Spotify Recording Group, for example. Amazon and Netflix already do this with video content. With tens of millions of listeners, a captive audience, and with highly influential playlists, I can’t see why the big services would ignore at least trying out the idea.
What do you think will happen? Comment below and let’s see who’s best at figuring out what’ll happen before the clock strikes midnight every tomorrow.
Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music Management & Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too). Reach him at PhilpD@wpunj.edu or find him on LinkedIn HERE.