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2020 Live Music Trends

Words by Kavina.

Now that we’ve arrived semi safely in the future, things are looking appropriately ‘lit’ for live music in 2020. While it’s generally RIP to cassette tapes, I did spy a Gen Z (or more appropriately Gen TikTok) digging for Prince tapes with her dad at Greville St. record store so I won’t make any radical predictions yet. It does seem live music performance remains irreplaceable, and it is continuously evolving in its form in a very Madonna-esque fashion. As the world continues to diversify, digital media and fan involvement drives the way we experience live music. 


Here are some of our favourite trends in live music for the new 20s 


The keyword I would use for live music in the new year is expansion. 


Statista shows that Australia’s total predicted live music sales would continue to increase, from $901 million in 2019 to $935 million in 2020. It is supported by $763 million in digital distribution, while physical sales are only at $41 million. Live music is not only the most profitable stream of income for musicians, but live-music events and festivals also continue to grow, with not even inflated ticket prices holding attendees back. 


The highest-grossing live music stadium events in the world continue to be rock music - with artists such as The Rolling Stones, U2 and Guns N’ Roses being bypassed only by pop music’s Ed Sheeran. 


Merchandise sales targeted at superfans are, therefore, being taken advantage of for brand marketing and advertising. The success of VR (virtual reality) experiences, like 02 gig photo app fan-inserts with Michael Bublé at his concerts, highlights the memento value of live experiences. Selective activations of brand and artist collaborations, such as the chance to be one of the first to purchase Kendrick Lamar Nike Cortez Kenny III sneakers during a concert, shows the profitability of ‘exclusive’ live music participation.


VR is now a thing!


VR has been on the scene for a while, but no one has been sure of its practical application. However, in 2020, we're looking at it to innovate, replicate and enhance the live music experience.


VR technology is providing a new way to reach and immerse fans in the experience, meaning the music industry can tap into a market of attendees (and non-attendees) by offering a chance to gain access to the live experience… game changer! The world is evolving, and the demand for the globalisation of live events, coupled with ever-developing technology (drones, VR, etc.), expands the reach of live music events to those in remote spaces. It can bring the party right into your living room if you can’t be bothered leaving it! 


By using headsets and earphones, the live sound and visual quality can also be enhanced, creating a closer interaction, between a fan and artist in a jam-packed gig. The popularity and success of underground live streaming sites, such as Cercle and Boiler Room, have been picked up by mainstream music festivals, concerts, broadcasting events and unique venue locations, (think pirate ships in the Mediterranean), straight to social media and YouTube. Festivals like Coachella are uploading VR tours of its campsites, and VR concert events are being curated by gaming and digital companies like the Oculus Venues app coverage of Post Malone. GearVR and Sony VR coverage of The Chainsmokers brought concertgoers a whole new dimension of virtual reality and immersion. VR, VR, VR. Did I mention VR? 


Digital media and live music are one, now and forever 


With the proliferation of digital media (Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram), gigs don’t just start and finish at the venue. A MusicWatch study showed that over 63% of fans both live share and view Instagram or Snapchat stories of live events. Plus, over 90% of digital media platform users have participated in online sharing or interaction with music and artists. Besides, it is becoming the easiest way for artists to connect intimately with their fans, with over half of their followers turning to media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram for music news and updates. Kanye West's prolonged ‘Yandhi’ album release didn’t stop fans from hijacking his Twitter teaser clips and compiling an album in anticipation. From Travis Scott’s Billboard number 2 rated tour and popularly shared concert footage, fans captured recordings and video content of his live sets. They then took them home and emulated higher sound quality versions and synth melodies of unreleased material, sharing them amongst the online community. 


TikTok leads the way in a new kind of live music and fan-created content sharing


Live feed commenting and story sharing have evolved as fan-created content blurs the lines between who now owns the music, the fans or the artists? The newest app on the scene, TikTok, allows users to create short lip-syncing and comedy videos set to their favourite songs and share them to the social network. This new kind of ‘sharing art’ really seems to resonate with its target audience of 23 years and younger. It already appears that TikTok will overtake all other digital media platforms by the end of the year, bypassing Facebook and Instagram with over 700 million downloads in 2019. It was also the second most downloaded app in the world last year (WhatsApp was first) and is quickly changing the way we view and share music content. Artists like Post Malone and the Jonas Brothers have integrated Instagram and TikTok, by posting live video feeds from tours and world music events, as the demand for video starts to overtake picture sharing. The TikTok fan video leak of a short clip from Brockhampton’s track ‘Sugar’ before its release or Lil Nas X ‘Old Town Road’ both went viral overnight, which shows the potential uses and success in new music and artist discovery. 


Genres are becoming global, and playlists are the new album listening - which means more diversity for live music the world over


As the world continues to expand its listening reach, niche genres like K-pop have significantly been cast into a global spotlight, connecting fans all over the world. Also, there is the growing impact of Latin-inspired music in the regional areas of South America, as more makes its way into mainstream American pop music. People are embracing diversity, especially now that online streaming is available in countries where it was previously difficult to share music. With the ability for artists to access to SoundCloud and Spotify, they can tour and bring their unique music, such as Nigerian hip-hop and Afrobeat, to the world. 


Playlist streaming has replaced album listening, promoting the sharing and discovery of new and similar artists, as well as curated lists like your Spotify Weekly Discover. Users now search terms like ‘music to fall asleep to’ or ‘energising playlists’ to complement mood listening or ‘chilling out’ vibes, which shows a move towards how a listener is feeling instead of specific artist searches. 


Artificial intelligence curated music apps, that can create unique music playlists to shift or enhance certain moods, are already complementing streaming. Feelin’ a little 1984 over here but hey, no thought police around yet, so we’re chill with it. 


Artists are choosing an independent route 


Artists are more and more, taking a DIY approach to their career. MusicWatch showed 90% of consumers revealed they use social media platforms, such as Instagram to find and stream new music and discover local music events. With technology readily available, music artists can take things into their own hands and create, produce and share music on their terms. It takes the complexity and time sensitivity out of sharing. By using social networking and digital media, like SoundCloud to connect and grow fanbases, bedroom producers such as Billie Eilish and Kaytranada have stumbled across success just by sharing new projects. 


Startups platforms are streamlining the way artists and venues connect 


Startups like Muso lead the next generation in venue and artist connection by providing a platform for artists and venues to discover and connect directly. In a new approach to a ‘gig marketplace,’ Muso can uniquely feature up-and-coming artists, and events wanting live music acts can approach and acquire talent efficiently. The professionalism of the entire booking process is streamlined and accountable, with apps handling the transactions from discovery to invoicing and payment. 


If you’re ready to step into the future of live music curation for your venue, feel free to give us a call or better yet, download the Muso app and get started. What a time to be alive! 


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