With 2022 *allegedly* just around the corner (it still sometimes feels like March 589 of 2020, honestly), and with the abundance of new art that has fueled our lives across all platforms this past year, we wonder what the next one might have in store. Thinking ahead to major trends in music in 2022, some avenues might be obvious choices, while others are possibly just wishful thinking. With a big “maybe” still attached to most in-person plans, let’s dive into our best guesses for the coming year:
1. Pedal to the Metal
As vaccination rates keep climbing across the more popular touring stops in the U.S. and the world over, it is highly likely that a lot of 2022 attention and investment will be concentrated into massive tours, popular festival comebacks, new niche festivals, and live music whenever and wherever a performance can be accommodated.
If all tours go according to plan, 2022 might turn out to be the biggest year in live music, brimming with the energy of artists who can’t wait to jam on stages big or small, meeting the energy of thirsty audiences bursting at the seams to experience it live.
2. Refined Cross-Pollination
That being said, odds are that the pandemic might still have a few curveballs to throw, and the music events industry might need more time to fully recover, as well as enter a new growth phase. But if the past two years have confirmed anything, it is that need indeed drives invention.
While exploring ways to at least survive without relying on in-person gatherings, organizers, performers, and yearning audiences have leveraged remote communication technology to find each other. For instance, we are now two seasons into Verzuz, the pandemic-born webcast, the effects of which instantly ripple across social media platforms, as well as audio and video streaming services.
Digital concert experiences have quickly grown from the occasional new album promotion get-together to being seen as a growing market of interest for all participants of digital advertising. It is highly likely that, in the coming year, the music industry will expand on the sizeable revenue-generating potential unlocked by both the convenience provided to local audiences and the instant accessibility offered to willing participants all around the globe.
3. Everything Goes Meta
If you thought the Tupac hologram performing at Coachella in 2012 was wild, you might need to sit down for this one. Advances in gaming and media have increasingly made augmented and virtual reality more accessible, which in turn continually raised the standards for renderings and seamless multimedia integration. Both enhanced reality modes are poised to become integral to music distribution.
In 2020, K-Pop band BTS performed a live-streamed concert that attracted nearly a million pay-per-viewers and reportedly garnered significantly more revenue than most in-person events ever have. Imagine if, instead of just watching a digital concert at home, you had a fully immersive digital experience of it — a virtual festival that incorporates intricate world-building and digital set design, and is populated by real-time interactive virtual avatars that are tied to real people participating from the comfort of their homes.
In 2022, we will likely see notable technological advances toward creating a more perfect union of the real and the virtual, whereby a cloud-based production feels sufficiently indistinguishable from a real-world one to our physical senses.
4. Crossing Streams
We have already normalized that the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV+ are sweeping Emmy awards, but up until 2013, content outside of the traditional television industry had never been considered. Streaming was already well on its disruptive way across entertainment scene, before the pandemic pinned us to our personal screens.
With remote communication technology blowing up the experience of consuming art, and the boost provided by life since March 2020, streaming has effectively upended the balance in the entertainment industry across the board. Next year, we will likely see some structural changes aiming to adjust for the now-sizeable share of user-generated influence that streaming and social media platforms have amassed.
Taylor Swift’s revisited recordings are breaking sales records right off the press and outperforming the original releases on streaming platforms. Her quest to regain control of her musical legacy is inspiring countless artists to more mindfully look out for the catalog they create. However, it is also inspiring major labels to look out for their weight on the scale, with some recent agreements reportedly increasing the amount of time that an artist would be restricted from re-recording their work.
5. Inertia Drives
In essence, it is safe to say that the music industry in 2022 will build on the inertia of promising trends that have emerged during the past two years. Content-wise, the depth of introspection reached while physically disconnected during lockdowns will likely result in quite a few more musical releases of highly engaging emotional exploration, as well as ever more creative ways of bringing them to consumers. As sometimes grief begets extraordinary beauty, so great change brings about extraordinary art. Whatever the new year might turn out to mean for music, there certainly is a great deal of good to look forward to.
If you want to breathe life into your projects with music, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Cutting Room Music team. We’re a trio of passionate composers that can’t wait to work on new, creative and exciting projects.