Everybody has shared their 2019 Spotify Wrapped, we rang in the new year, and now we are at the beginning of a whole new decade. Artists are scratching their heads wondering how the music business, music production, and songwriting will change within the following year.
As trends, ebb and flow, catching the next wave in 2020 might only mean adapting to the modern techniques people listen to music.
The largest music trends to watch in 2020
2019 foreshadowed major changes in music consumption habits and music production that is only going to intensify in the years to come.
1. Songs keep getting shorter
In 2019, the average course length of the Top 40 was three minutes and seven seconds. That is an entire 30 seconds less than the year before. This is largely a byproduct of discovery and streaming through playlists. Consequently, traditional pop song structures are thrown out the window to reduce the odds of being skipped in a deck of 52 other musicians.
Should you shorten your songs for playlists?
From a business perspective, shortening your paths could be the smartest compromise you may make. Unless you are TOOL, who had the third most-searched record of 2019, fans aren’t sticking around for a very long joyride of a tune.
Playlist-optimized tunes can then lure listeners into your whole project.
But if you feel like you’re sacrificing artistic integrity to shorten your paths, it is simple: do not shorten your tracks.
2. Genres have become a thing of the past.
Nelly and Tim McGraw might’ve been one of the earliest hip-hop/country crossovers to high mainstream charts, but in 2019 we saw Lil Nas X break record after record. Grammy gatekeepers disagreed on “Old Town Road” being qualified for Billboard’s Hot Country chart, the genre initially recorded in its metadata. Still, this wasn’t sufficient to keep the song from being an everlasting number one.
Then how should music be categorized?
“Old Town Road” checks many boxes for country music, while concurrently giving hip-hop over a Nine Inch Nails sample. There are loads of similar cases in charting country tunes, however, so why are these artists not scrutinized as greatly? Culture is the answer.
So as to get acceptance from state music tastemakers,”Old Town Road” would require several remixes with a couple of unusual features, from Billy Ray Cyrus to Diplo. The hybrid vehicle hit was ushered to overriding success securing multiple Grammy nominations and winning big at the CMA Awards.
Artists are taking more risks.
Lil Nas X has yet to make another country-leaning track. He does touch on a number of different styles, but which is commendable. Acts like Tyler, the Creator have also dropped apparently left-field records.
People often care more about culture than genre, particularly in hip-hop, and this is a huge indicator of where the music industry is headed. Homage is because of the Bowie’s and PJ Harvey’s, but expect more stylistic boundaries to be broken down.
3. The ’80s are back in full effect.
It has been a long time coming, as we have slowly watched the uptrend of funk and industrial frozen grooves. The new year will completely embrace the 80’s both sonically and aesthetically. Thanks largely in part to pop culture, giant reverbs and traditional analog synths are deserving of the spotlight once more.
Should you ride this wave?
It’s well worth contemplating: if you change your sound to match what is currently hot, or follow your guns? The music industry benefits diversity today more than ever before. Take notice from pop stars such as The Weeknd, Billie Eilish, and Charlie Puth, who have developed an affinity for the design but have a signature sound differently.
To me, the essence of the ’80s is more about experimentation and NOT the noise itself.
4. Physical sales are down to the music industry.
If there’s one action item on this list, it is this: upload your music into Spotify and Apple Music PRONTO.
Based on Nielsen’s 2019 Mid-Year Report, streaming now accounts for 78 percent of music consumption. Vinyl continues to see a resurgence in popularity, but with a 9.6% increase from the prior year. Consider bundling CDs and vinyl with your merch, as merch bundles now count towards your record earnings.
5. Technology is rapidly changing music promotion.
If you feel like the newest platforms, technology, and gadgets are tough to keep up with, that is because they are. The methods by which we find and consume music is changing on a daily basis.
The growing industry of live streaming.
YouTube has existed for quite a while and remains a king for movie content. Though as the stage becomes saturated and commercialized, content creators thirst to get in touch with their fans on a personable level. That is where live streaming websites like Twitch and Mixer come to perform.
More commonly known for video game streaming, Twitch is home to musicians and artists of all sizes. Whether you are just starting out or you are EDM heavyweight Deadmau5, you can connect with fans who are engaged and supportive of the work you are putting out in real-time. Viewers often become super fans that stick with you for many years to come.