Topics: Music Business
Wowza! In my 3rd year assessing the music festival scene on behalf of Feed.fm, I feel confident stating that there’s never been a better time for live music omnivores. While creating the following roundup of summer and fall music festivals—28 in total—I was somewhat dumbfounded by the quantity and variety of high-quality offerings across the country.
A few high-level observations before diving into the chronological list below:
- While the traditional “summer” music festival continues to explode its seasonal confines, promoters still steer clear of winter. So die-hard fans will get a short breather come January…before the Ultra Music Festival (Miami) jumps the gun again in early spring.
- Music festivals are popping up and disappearing with surprising frequency, perhaps indicating the market is becoming saturated. Examples include the failure-to-launch Fyre Festival (Bahamas); the one-time-only Desert Trip (Palm Desert, CA); and FYF Fest (Los Angeles) which unexpectedly canceled its 15th annual event.
- Which artists lay claim to the most headliner slots this year? Of the festivals we’ve surveyed, The Weeknd is the clear winner with 6 appearances. Janet Jackson, Arctic Monkeys, Erykah Badu, and Florence + The Machines have 3 appearances apiece.
How do you decide what music to listen to? Since streaming is now America’s dominant form of music consumption, we’re guessing Spotify or Apple Music are helping make this choice.
Both these companies and their competitors rely on algorithms to manage an increasingly large variety of music playlists. So…a robot is picking your music? Well, yes and no. Even a tech titan like Apple recognizes that machine learning has its limitations: most streaming companies employ music experts who fine-tune playlists combining computer data with essential context and personal taste.
There’s been lots of buzz about smart speakers, voice activation, and AI assistants over the past couple years. It’s a great time to tune in if you haven’t been paying close attention. 20% of U.S. Wi-Fi households currently own smart speakers, and manufacturers are pushing for introduction in the workplace.
As voice activated experiences continue to proliferate, individual users and a vast array of businesses stand to benefit. Amazon and Google are currently investing heavily in smart speaker production and defining the user experience.
With even the terminology still in flux, the following 7 articles should get you up to speed quickly on smart speakers and voice activation.
Recently, the latest rage in the music world is that Spotify has confidentially filed “IPO” documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, unlike a typical IPO where an investment bank underwrites and allocates shares to institutional investors, Spotify will allow existing investors to sell shares directly on the public markets. Direct listings, which are highly unusual, have often been done by small-cap companies. This is the first time that a company with a multibillion dollar valuation, in Spotify’s case $20 billion, will offer shares in this manner. The direct listing will provide liquidity for existing shareholders and will allow new investors to participate in a pure-play, on-demand music streaming service. While at first glance, this may appear to be a bizarre strategy, as we discussed in a recent Bloomberg interview, this is an incredibly exciting moment for the music industry.
The widespread concept of music curation is extremely new, an unexpected outcome of the internet’s collision with music industry and media. With the introduction of Napster’s MP3 file sharing platform in 1999, an incredible, ever-growing amount of free music became available to the public. In response, music gatekeepers such as radio and television programmers, record stores, and the music press were forced to consolidate and rethink their revenue models. The result of these tectonic changes is that today's listeners have more music options and fewer traditional go-betweens than ever before.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Music curation emerged as a way to fill this gap and help people decide what music should I listen to now? Answering this question can be surprisingly complex. While YouTube now accounts for 1 in 4 music listening hours, the majority of us select some type of playlist—possibly powered by YouTube itself—or digital radio station to deliver a sustained listening experience.
Perry Farrell was prescient. While the Jane’s Addiction singer and Lollapalooza founder cannot take credit for inventing the music festival, the template he created has proven massively successful over the past 25 years. The traditional “summer” music festival has exploded its seasonal confines, there are now excellent options in nearly every corner of the United States, and new events are being introduced annually.
For music lovers, it seems we blink our eyes and a new festival season has begun. It’s exciting and overwhelming in equal measure, and this year is no exception with the Ultra Music Festival just two weeks away. To help you navigate and make the best choices we’ve created a cheat sheet: our Top 17 for ’17 music festivals roundup.
In an age when content is king, individuals rely on a wide range of organizations—both media and non-media companies—to curate and help them navigate a high volume of information. Everyone seems to be getting into the content business, as it’s proven to create authentic engagement in a landscape where traditional ads get ignored.
While most organizations use content marketing these days, it’s notable that the majority of these do not think highly of their current programs. According to a recent Content Marketing Institute report, just 32% of B2B and 37% of B2C said their content marketing was either sophisticated or mature, so there is clearly much room for improvement. This can take many forms, from better measurement to a wider array of tactics.
2015 has come and gone in a flash and it was an exciting year in music on many fronts. Apart from the senseless tweet squabbles between various artists for publicity stunts and Kanye’s announcement that he’s running for President in 2020, there were several moments that will shape the music ecosystem for years to come. The industry is still scrambling to catch up with the massive changes in listening habits and the fallout has been painful to watch at times. More than anything else, last year was about the changing of the guard. Old institutions becoming less relevant, streaming services wielding more power (and battling it out amongst themselves), and top-selling artists flexing their own muscles in answer.