Technology has always been a driver for change in the music business. From the evolution of physical formats (vinyl, tapes, CDs) to the explosion of the digital marketplace (peer-to-peer sharing, iTunes, Spotify), advancements in tech have altered the way we create, classify and consume the music we love.
Streaming has redefined the music biz over the last decade, but the evolution of these capabilities has influenced far more than just the Spotify or Apple Music model. The ability to stream 1000s of tracks directly to either DJ hardware (CDJs) or software (Serato, Traktor) is set to flip the electronic music community on its head when the functionality comes to market within the next 12 months — opening up a whole new range of complex problems for labels, artists and licensing. (Read more on streaming in the booth)
Fast, high-quality streaming has also removed the necessity for fans to physically attend shows, demonstrated most successfully by live stream platforms like Boiler Room and Cercle. There’s little doubt that virtual concerts present a huge revenue stream for artists in the future, perhaps even more so than the traditional live tour model. Considering the obliteration of live music venues and clubs over the last few years, the digital world could potentially present a safer space for promoters than that of the physical.
The shift to the online consumption of audio has also helped music infiltrate gaming like never before. Marshmello’s concert inside popular online game Fortnite back in February attracted his biggest crowd ever (Fortnite has a subscriber base of 200 million users) and the stream has been viewed over 36 million times on YouTube. In fact, the potential future impact of the symbiosis of gaming and music is too far-reaching (not to mention lucrative) to cover now (but you can learn more about gaming-meets-music here).
This ability to experience music virtually has enabled more people to explore music as a craft — online music tuition has already been around for more than a decade, although the development of Virtual Reality classrooms is only just beginning to be explored. VR removes the need to own or learn on expensive DJ or production kit (as demonstrated by Facebook’s VR Djing App, Reality Decks) although the price of VR tech will need to decrease significantly before we see aspiring selectors turning to virtual tuition en masse.
Technology has also allowed the barrier to entry for new musicians to be significantly lowered — production software now enables artists to recreate hundreds of sounds without physically owning instruments.
Sample-based platforms like Splice present the opportunity for anyone to download sounds straight from the creators who produced them, opening up another valuable and still-evolving revenue stream for artists alongside live, streaming and sync.
The chance for sync across new digital properties is also set to expand revenue pathways for artists in the future — think: Instagram stories, interactive digital advertising, cross-platform apps — alongside the already mentioned gaming and streaming industries. (You can learn more about sync, live and DJ royalties here).
It will be up to artists, labels and brands to capitalise on a diverse selection of digital revenue channels to stay afloat in the future, and tech-savvy acts are the ones who might just end up on top.