What Will the Music Business Look Like in 2020? 5 More Predictions From Industry Insiders (Part 2)

Posted by Bobby Borg on Nov 12, 2015 08:00 AM
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This is an excerpt from Business Basics For Musicians by Bobby Borg. It has been reposted here with permission. Click here to read the first five music business predictions in part one.

Music isn’t going anywhere — we dance to it, graduate to it, and get married to it. But one thing is for sure: The music industry will continue to change and grow. In order to be prepared, musicians must keep their eyes on the future.

In part one, we looked at changes in the copyright act and new tools for artists to monetize and collect revenue streams. What follows are five more predictions from a variety of industry vets.

1.  The concert business will be shaped, but never replaced

"While technology is developing at rapid speeds and disrupting many businesses — especially the record business and recorded music — its only helping the concert business and how people are brought together.

"People have always strived to congregate together, whether it be for religious ceremonies, theater productions, sporting events, or musical concerts — and technology only facilitates this behavior. Social networks help fans engage new bands; digital cameras allow fans to shoot live clips and post them on websites in real time; and websites and ticket vendors allow fans to view tour dates and purchase advanced tickets. By 2020, all this will have already evolved.

"Through advancements in technology and pure human need, the concert business is not going anywhere and will be stronger than ever. Sure, the way concerts are marketed or sold will be somewhat shaped, but the concert business will never be replaced. Develop a great live show and thrive!" – John Pantle, Agent at APA Talent and Literary Agency

2. Business skills are paramount in a fast-paced and high-tech world 

"Long gone are the days when labels signed bands and developed them for years till they’re successful. It’s a freelance world, and everybody’s hustling for work all the time. For musicians, this will be just as true in 2020 as it will in 2030, and beyond. Thus, you need to think of yourself as a business, and continue to sell that 'business' for as long as you want to keep working.

"It’s critical that you, with your right-brain creative mind, learn the left-brain analytical skills you’ll need to navigate the business world. This includes understanding finances, as well as developing 'soft (communication) skills' like critical thinking, business writing, and oral presentation — skills that are all especially important in a fast-paced and high-tech world.

"Make no mistake: In 2020, you’ll need to know how to hustle for work and be able to take care of business more than ever. Remember, this is the show business. If you want to play, you’re going to need to do a lot of work." – Chaz Austin, Ed.D, Career Development Director Musicians Institute

3. Demographics will shift

"In making predictions about the music industry in 2020, I envision that the topography of the music landscape will be much more inclusive of artists who are representative of the shifting population demographics.

"I believe that Latin artists, communicating in English, Spanish, and 'Spanglish' will be mainstream, and that Asian-American singers, bands, and producers will become major creative forces. Songwriters will continue to bond together into 'writing camps,' and will exert an ever-greater influence as shapers of talent, and as arbiters and producers of content. Mixers and remixers will become more dominant, as electronic dance music (EDM) unites the globe through worldwide anthems.

"What will never change is the power of motivated, forward-thinking creators to configure music to challenge, change, and inspire the lives of listeners." – Dan Kimpel, Music Journalist

4. There will be more automated and sophisticated marketing everywhere

"While my crystal ball broke last week, I predict that marketing music in 2020 will become more sophisticated and automated.

"People will have bots (or avatars) that are digital representations of them. These bot agents will know their music preferences and travel around the internet buying songs, concert tickets, and related merchandise for their human bosses. It might even get to the point where musicians and record companies will have bots that market their services directly to customer bots (an updated take on 'have your agent contact my agent').

"In addition to going to concerts, fans will have the option to download performances 24/7 and watch them on smart screens and mobile devices. If mobile devices have a small screen, they will have the capability of projecting a holographic image of the performance." – Ira S. Kalb, Professor of Marketing at the Marshall School of Business at University of Southern California; President, Kalb & Associates

5. There will be extended product lines and stronger brands 

"In 2020, music will be consumed everywhere — on platforms that are seen today and others that have not yet been envisioned.

"To survive, musicians will have to embrace this technology, but they must also realize that music – and the distribution and sales of it – will only be a one part of their revenue pie (and perhaps even the smallest piece).

"Artists will have to extend far beyond just selling recordings (streams, downloads, vinyl, or whatever new format is discovered), hitting the road, and selling merchandise. Artists will need to grow their product offerings into licensing, sponsorships, production, co-writing, acting, modeling, restaurant franchising, investing, directing, educating, and so much more in order to survive and thrive in the new music business.

"Thus, in 2020, protecting the artist’s true vision, values, integrity, authenticity, and overall brand image is paramount. Those who understand marketing will grow brands stronger than ever, relating to target markets and engaging fans on a far more personal level than ever.

"Long gone are the days of the 'mass' broad stroke mentality and narrow-mindedness in marketing artists. It’s a new world in 2020. The industry will evolve, and the marketing-savvy artist will evolve and thrive with it." – Fred Croshal, Croshal Entertainment Group, LLC


Bobby Borg is the author of Business Basics for Musicians: The Complete Handbook From Start to Success (published by Hal Leonard) available at bobbyborg.com/store. As a limited-time special offer, you can get the book, CD, and DVD for only $21.99 (a $70 value).

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