Wondering what the next big thing in music is for 2016?
Two kinds of BIG will seep into the mainstream of music in 2016 that are game changers on the industry side of the equation. While these changes won’t directly affect fans for now, they will have an effect over the long run.
Perhaps the biggest idea of all is a gigantic swing into the realm of streaming and tracking listening habits, genre preferences, and thanks to Taylor Swift, even pulse rates at concerts. Additionally, The Tennessean says the world’s largest concert promoter is weighing in heavily on Nashville venues and Bonnaroo. As an international hub of all things music, what happens in Nashville will affect things everywhere.
From a capitalist’s point of view, you could ask yourself, “What’s the big deal?”
Over the history of contemporary music, radio has been the dispatch or dispensary from which people discover new music. It’s a medium that loosely measures listenership and radio charts are the historical benchmark for songs and albums that receive the most airplay. These measurements are still the threshold that attract advertisers, concert promoters, booking agents, journalists and other professionals to the artist.
According to Forbes the music police will be leaning in closely to gather data on everything relevant to your listening habits; or the habits of your fans. This is nothing new in technology realms that gather inbound and outbound data from iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, and the like. But it’s a strategically new phenom to zero in on listener’s patterns and inbound data. If there’s an upshot, it’s that nobody’s hiding in the shadows — that we know of anyway.
The difference between measuring radio airplay and collecting data are very significant. It’s much more personal on the data end. People you don’t know and will never meet will have a microscopic view into much of what you do. Whatever devices you choose to listen to music through are the tracking devices into a very intimate part of your life.
For better or for worse, music is an emotional experience. Music defines an emotional state no matter how you decipher your mood. If for some reason music doesn’t suit our mood we simply change the channel until we find corresponding frequencies.
This concept was plainly illustrated in a 2010 CNBC special, “Tom Brokaw Reports: Boomer$” where Brokaw talked to Tom Hanks (among others) about popular culture of that generation. “I always knew what time it was by the television,” Hanks said. “But I knew how I felt by the music.”
So instead of traditional marketing research which defines buying, spending, and selling habits, music is now the catalyst to delving into your emotional landscape. Whereas subliminal marketing exposes us to various messages we are unaware of, the music you listen to will unwittingly provide a picture of your emotional makeup. Another baseline technology offers up because it can.
If O, [Big] Brother Where Art Thou, creeps onto your radar, the remedy is pretty simple. Switch over to the analog model. Digital be damned. The expense of vinyl products that so many anguish over has a flip side. Serious music fans purchase vinyl for collections and superior sound quality; and there’s no need to fret about data being collected from what you create, or what your audience feels like listening to.
David and Goliath Tie The Knot
When a homegrown international hub like Nashville hands over the reins to the world’s largest concert promoter to book and promote much of the live music scene, the ripple effect will be wide.In an era when we know mass marketing has been replaced with niche marketing, and arena shows have a seat on the bus reserved for A Listers, the world’s largest concert promoter is climbing in bed with Nashville.
Nashville has opened its doors to Live Nation in a big way, and several venues within the metro area have deals for at least five years with the promoter. This means the indies will have to either be diligent about obtaining gigs in town through strong networks, or go out of town regularly to build their audiences because they won’t be able to compete locally with top names.
The only leverage indies will have is at the price point in small intimate venues as Live Nation promotes big ticket tours. That means a deep entrepreneurial adjustment to indie strategies in terms of when, where, and how much, and especially for the mid-level artists who’ve already walked through some fire and brimstone.
To the fans, it could mean a more diverse offering in large venues. Only time will tell if there is enough logic in this decision for a balance between promoter, venue, artist, and fan Hopefully the offerings don’t amount to a regular circuit of acts that resemble something like The Greatest Show On Earth.
At this fork in the road we’ll see what kind of integrity headliners have with regard to their fans and to music itself. And we’ll see what kind of artistry indies pull out of their hats to keep the magic alive.