The following analysis, “Country Music – The Next 10 Years,” is based upon current events, consumer trends and available technology. It also weighs the possible impact of new technologies just entering the marketplace and expected to be widely available during the ten-year time period. These observations are a “best guess” of upcoming challenges and how to best maximize the opportunities they offer. (Use at your own risk..)
1. The “Access” model becomes firmly established, but does not offset the loss in revenue from shrinking physical and download music sales.
a.) Reduced sales revenue accelerates record label consolidation.
b.) Indie labels and publishers become more like indie film production studios and deliver more fully developed artists to major labels to reduce investment risk for the majors.
a.) As traditional radio competes with access channels for normal listening and music discovery in the car, the long-time country radio partner will suffer a decline in TSL (time spent listening).
b.) Radio ad revenues will also decline reflecting the audience change. Stations will face asset de-valuation as FCC licenses get valued more directly for the bandwidth they represent and not the station.
c.) Radio’s bright spot will be apps like iHeartradio which will give it a place on the connected auto screen. Radio industry consolidation will accelerate as new apps find automated ways to satisfy the need for local news, weather and traffic that was formerly the domain of the various local radio stations. Many ‘would be’ online radio players will arrive too late to the party.
3. As terrestrial TSL declines, labels will trim traditional radio promotion budgets and increasingly focus their expenditures on access outlets. High priority targets will also include direct marketing through email lists and finding new ways to gain mobile exposure.
4. Large organizations (non-profits, major labels and large scale media groups) will promote/market their activities by creating online brands that broadcast across various media channels such as podcasts, video channels, breaking news reports and more. These activities will serve the multiple roles of marketing, new music discovery and creating new revenue streams. Some entities might also venture into promoting live music and ticket sales. Robust email lists will be crucial to tune-in and a key strategic advantage. Popular online content creators will become key acquisition targets to help these new media departments quickly reach critical mass.
5. Promoting the country format worldwide will finally become cost effective as technology lowers costs and raises ROI on global marketing initiatives. For worldwide country consumers, these expanded media departments will become their connection for direct access to the latest music and artist lifestyle news.
6. As music sales become more promotional, the 360 deal concept will further permeate industry agreements. These basket of revenue deals will be adopted by many areas of the industry including publishers, producers, artists, labels, managers and more.
7. The middle class for artists, publishers and labels will mostly disappear as the above realities take hold. Competitive pressure will also limit the number of smaller, service-based music industry companies.
Please share your thoughts on the next decade, below…