Trends That Shape the Music Industry: How Artists Can Keep Up

The music industry transforms in ways that affect how music is produced, distributed and discovered. This is why it’s important for artists to not only be aware of music trends but also to know what they can do to keep up and stay on top.

In this article, we will take a close look at some of the most impactful music trends that shape the music business. Some of these are relatively new, while some have been in place for quite some time but still continue to affect artists and music fans alike. Let’s begin!

If you’re not into streaming, you’re out

The more audiences are subscribing to streaming services, the more important these platforms become for music artists. Based on a Nielsen Music 2019 industry report, streaming now accounts for at least 78 percent of music consumption. Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music and Tidal are some of the most popular streaming services where listeners get their music on demand and discover new artists.

This is why artists who want a leg up on the competition should seriously consider having their music up on one or more of these platforms. Do some research into digital music distribution services that can help you out, such as TuneCore, ReverbNation and Sonicbids. It’s important to pay attention to subscription fees and artist payouts as well to help you in your decisions.

Live streaming keeps fans engaged

How do you do a live show when large gatherings are discouraged, even prohibited? You maximize the digital space–you come up with a virtual concert.

The 2020 pandemic caused shows and other live music events to be canceled one after the other, and artists have struggled to keep fans engaged. And while social media is there and won’t really go away anytime soon, video conferencing tools and live streaming platforms have become the must-use services for artists who want to stay visible and relevant.

One of the platforms that has become extremely popular during the quarantine period was TikTok, and it is being put to brilliant use in terms of live streaming. In August 2020, the Weeknd put on a live concert on the platform and sold new and limited merch, raising $350,000 for the Equal Justice Initiative. Nearly 2 million fans tuned in.

The Weeknd is just one of the artists who have shown that even though there was no big physical gathering, artists can still find ways to ramp up engagement–and even contribute to a good cause.

Social media matters

Speaking of TikTok, the app now has around 689 million active users around the world as of September 2020. While there was apprehension when the app was launched in 2017 for the international market, TikTok is quickly becoming an established social media platform that artists can use to their advantage.

One of the things that make TikTok extremely engaging is its music integration, which allows users to choose background tracks and use these for their own videos. This makes the app a fantastic music discovery platform for consumers, and a great marketing platform for artists.

We may not know the future of TikTok in the music industry, but its rise does show that it, together with other social platforms, does play a role in making music artists visible to and discovered by a larger audience.

Short songs hit the sweet spot

Industry experts have observed that from the 1990s, songs have been decreasing in length by more than 30 seconds. From tracks that lasted for around four minutes and 30 seconds, songs are now down to around three minutes and 42 seconds.

The reason behind this trend is how artists are getting paid, now that streaming is in and physical sales are dwindling. Before streaming, music artists were paid when they sold a single or an album. Now, artists are only paid in a stream if a user listens to 30 seconds of a track. This means that the greater the number of short songs you have, the more plays your tracks may have on a streaming platform.

Based on this trend, the ideal length for new songs is between two and three minutes. You can use this as a guide when writing your own songs. Don’t think of this as limiting to your creativity but as a challenge in showing off your best work within a short span of time.

Those are the top music trends that shape the music industry and affect music artists. These trends point toward music consumption as a highly digital activity with social media as the driving force, with audiences relying on the internet and apps to get their music fix.

With this in mind, artists would do well to know their audience’s preferences, and do some research of their own about which platforms could work for their music or the direction they want their music career to take. It may sound like a lot of work, but if you want to keep up and make it big in the music biz, you’ll need to know how it works. Good luck!


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