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10 Ways That 2017 Will Change The Way You Consume Music

By Christie Eliezer

Are You Experienced?
As music fans increasingly move away from owning music to renting it, user-experience will become the key for growth. Music apps and platforms, for all their hype, lag behind their digital rivals for visuals and sound quality, and in the multidimensional and scalability stakes. Some major brands have started to work at these. But if not quick enough to move in 2017 — reasons including not generating enough revenue or needing to overhaul their staff to younger tech-smarter ones —expect a new generation of well-funded, more tech savvy ones to launch and move in. Our tip for the first to disappear in 2017: Tidal, most likely bought out by Apple.
 
Currently there are 103.1 million music streaming services subscribers in the world. It’s expected to be 200 million by end of 2017. The huge gap between the users and the subscribers indicates streaming services need to do more to reel them in. A study by digital agency OMD found that only one in three Australians use music streaming, and only 21% of those subscribe. But half of the latter are open to it – meaning that they’ll do it once they’re happy with current services.
 
Streaming Will Continue To Save The Music Industry
After streaming became the main revenue earner for record companies in 2016, expect it to escalate in 2017. Spotify Australia, which received 4.2 million visitors in late 2016 (up from 3 million early in the year) will focus on more integrated in-car streaming. Pandora Australia promises more new products through 2017.
 
The streaming boom will see major financial companies returning to invest in the music industry after decades of treating it as a pariah. The canary in the mine will be Spotify’s Initial Public Offering (IPO), probably in the first half of the year. If it’s successful, investors will dive back panting hard. If not, there’ll be a crisis of confidence, and its rivals will have second thoughts about expanding at all costs.
 
In December, the Australian Financial Review reported that a number of Australian-made apps have started to draw major investment. The musician-network VAMPR, after raising $650,000 to launch, is heading to the market this year for major injection. Gigged-In, which launched with a $750,000 booster shot from financial institutions, is close to concluding a $1 million bridging fund. Online ticketing platform Pulse Global raised $1.2 million ahead of a 2017 listing on the Australian Stock Exchange.
 
More Gomo Than Fomo
Until 2015, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was the catchphrase that Australian promoters and marketers used to get those pesky millennials to their events and products. 40% of Aussies admitted their FOMO was driven by social media. But early last year, ticketing platform Eventbrite’s study of our spending habits found that FOMO was replaced by GOMO (Get Out More Often). Because of the anxiety of missing out, 60% of Australians planned to go to more concerts in 2016 with 28% indicating they’ll spend $300 each time, and 30% planned to attend more music festivals.
 
Concert Tech To Create Closer Encounters
The energy and excitement of watching a band with thousands of other like-minded freaks can never be surpassed. But technology has redefined the whole concert experience. Not all are available in Australia yet, but will be. Wearable technology covers cashless payment, paperless ticketing and superior social media connection.  Fans entering the venue are handed LED light-up devices — beach balls, wristbands or lanyards – which the lighting director using a console can control and turn the entire crowd into a magnificent screen with changing individual effects. Super-fans in the front rows can be rewarded by bands who may release new tracks only to them or offer discounted merch. 
 
The biggest change will be commonplace streaming of concerts. So far it’s limited to major acts because setting up a stream is expensive, time-consuming and a logistical and red tape nightmare. But new companies have popped up in North America and Europe to make future concerts work on parallel universes. The idea is to give the fan on the sofa a different experience to the fan who physically went. This includes experiencing the show from the band’s view of the crowd and going backstage. In Australia, it would be a boon to those in regional areas where major acts don’t play, to those who don’t have the extra rubles to travel and to those who are apprehensive about their safety at concerts. Expect the value of the global live music industry, US$25 billion in 2016, to rise in the next 12 months.
 
Wider Lifestyle Marketing At EDM Events
Research shows that unlike po-faced rock and alt-rock audiences, dance and hip hop crowds aren’t averse to branding thrown in their faces. Expect more of that in 2017, especially at EDM events and festivals. Because that’s where Aussie millennials (16-34) congregate. 
 
A survey last year opened the corporate world’s eyes to possibilities, which they’ll most likely put in place this year. Sponsoring a Live Music Event Makes Millennials Trust and Recommend Your Brand! found 93% of respondents like brands that sponsor live events, 81% have the coolest brand experience where music was involved, 80% think the best way to connect with them is via a branded live music event and 37% of these come away with a better perception of the brand. 89% regard those brands as “more authentic”, up to 80% buy a product after the experience, and 80% recommend brands that sponsor a live music experience.
 
Greater Technology To Drive Festivals
The millennials’ dual obsession with technology and music festivals has seen major changes in that sector’s experience. Ticketing company Eventbrite’s US statistics are probably similar to those in Australia. Biggest attendees are millennial men and college students. 25% of college students attended a music festival in the past 12 months. 
 
The festival experience will grow with wider use of virtual reality, drone and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) wristbands. Are we one day looking at promoters offering two-tier ticketing systems: one for actual attendance and the other for virtual attendance?
 
Radio To Aggressively Chase Listeners
More people are listening to radio than ever before – 10.3 million a week in the five capital cities to commercial radio, while close to 4.8 million a week (or 6% of the population aged over 15) to community radio. Research company GfK’s Australian Share of Audio study found that Australians spend an average of three hours and 23 minutes each day consuming audio “in a dynamic and changing market that includes internet-only services, podcasts and online music videos.” 13% listen to their own music collections, 9.2% to streaming services Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music, 3.7% to online music videos, 3.5% to podcasts, just 2.1% to TV music channels and 2.6% to “other audio” including audio books and music playing at various locations such as gyms or in pubs. 
 
A poll by AdNews in December of Australian commercial radio figures predicted that through 2017 we can see more investment in branding and innovative content, and in the multiple platforms where the younger listeners are. The once squabbling radio networks will work together more, to promote the value of radio.
 
Virtual Reality Enters The Mainstream
After bubbling away for years, VR has become a reality even if flawed and fascinating, and even if the price of headsets limits the audience to enthusiastic early adopters. Games such as House of The Dying Sun and Elite Dangerous were the obvious showcases to its possibilities. So too was 3D painting app Tilt Brush and desktop apps as Bigscreen and Virtual Desktop. Some experts suggest VR is just a fad, destined to go the way of the laserdisc and 3D TV. But given the excitement still whirling around it, that’s not expected to happen in 2017.
 
You’re The Voice (Recognition)
In 2017, Australians will be expecting their smartphones, music systems, cars and cameras to respond to their voices. As it is, 10% of all queries globally (that’s 50 billion searches a month) are via voice. It’s still a novelty, with a MindMeld study showing that 60% of smartphone owners only began using the feature last year, and 41% in the past six months. Half the searches will be voice-activated by 2020. This is because the speech recognition word error rate is now 8%, compared to 20% in 2014. Similarly, 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be videos by 2020.
 
Twitter Saves Itself?
The expectation was that Twitter would sink in the ocean by 2018. It was turned down by potential suitors Disney, Google and Salesforce.com and the perception was that users saw it as out-dated. But its last two quarters saw audience growth and engagement. In December 2016, it introduced live broadcasting through Periscope and put itself back in the game. Although it needs to play catch with Facebook Live which launched in April 2016. Live video is the future of social media: the total daily digital video consumption by an American adult is expected to reach 72 minutes in 2017. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has also made it more appealing with a block on abusive messages and trimming worldwide staff by 9% to give it a wider financial smile.