Tonight 2013 comes to a close, and with it, so does a typically eventful year in the music industry. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen new releases by acts from Jay Z to Katy Perry, continued sparring between streaming services and rights holders–and twerking. So much twerking.
Don't Miss: Nintendo Switch: Everything You Need To Know
Yesterday I reeled off a few winners and losers in the music business. But 2014 represents a fresh start. In my recent reporting, I’ve been talking with operatives from all corners of the industry about what the new year will bring. Based on those conversations and my own thoughts, here are a few predictions:
Miley Cyrus is just getting started.
Don’t take my word for it–ask 50 Cent. I did, and here’s what he said: “She’s going to be the shit, watch.” He points out that she knows better than most pop stars how to dominate a press cycle, as the world witnessed in the wake of her VMA performance and subsequent album launch.
“What [people] see from Miley Cyrus, like with the award shows and creating all the controversy, is because they felt like they already knew her and had expectations of her as an artist,” 50 Cent added. “Just putting her in a box. But everything she did, they would have expected from Madonna right out of the gate.”
Of course, 50 Cent is something of a master of the art of keeping one’s name in the news, and dropping Miley’s name in an interview could partly be an expression of that. But love her or hate her, Cyrus has the world’s attention–and her 2014 could be huge if she does something good with it, starting with a lucrative solo tour.
The artist management reshuffling will continue.
Some of the biggest names in music have been switching managers, from U2 to Lady Gaga to John Mayer. Many in the industry expect to see more of this in the coming year.
“I think you’re going to see this continued trend of the strain between managers and artists,” says veteran entertainment attorney Bernie Resnick. “It’s not just artistic differences, it’s how to promote yourself in this crazy mixed up new world.”
Old-fashioned managers, he figures, don’t fully understand how to handle acts in the current environment. But the new generation can still stand to learn a thing or two. That could lead to more savvy management companies overseeing larger batches of artists and sharing their expertise. Say Resnick: “It’s the only way to survive, because there’s safety in numbers.”
Country music will continue its push into the mainstream.
Every so often, country music makes a move toward the middle–whether it was Garth Brooks and Shania Twain in the 1990s, or Rascal Flatts in the 2000s, or Taylor Swift over the past few years. Recently, it seems that country as a genre, or at least what’s often referred to as “pop-country,” is pushing into the mainstream more substantially than usual.
Country music sales rose 4.1% in 2012, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while the genre’s digital album sales increased by 38%; both figures were tops among all genres. Both Toby Keith ($65 million) and Kenny Chesney ($53 million) earned more than any rapper or DJ. Country purists and grunge die-hards may not like it, but pop-country is moving into the opening left by the decline of rock music’s market share.
“Most of pop music now is R&B and hip-hop, and really electronic-driven,” Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus told FORBES. “So what we did was we filled a void for the baby boomers, in particular, that had grown up fans of bands like Aerosmith and Journey … that sort of helped usher in a new brand of country music that was a little more on the pop side, but was still completely country because of its lyrical content.”
Look for that trend to become even more apparent in the new year, particularly with Garth Brooks rumored to be preparing for his first tour in over a decade–and new music due from both Rascal Flatts this spring and, perhaps, from Swift later in the year.
Lady Gaga will have one of her best years yet.
This prediction may sound strange given that I listed Gaga among the losers of 2013 yesterday. That designation had mostly to do with Gaga’s heavily-promoted ARTPOP earning lukewarm reviews–and getting out-buzzed and out-sold by the likes of Beyoncé’s surprise album despite a massive launch effort. I stand by it.
But Gaga is one of the first true superstars of the social media generation, and 2014 will be the year when she’ll prove the value of having close to 100 million followers between Facebook and Twitter. This has already helped her sell far more albums worldwide than the critical response to her album might suggest.
The next stop is an arena tour. Live music is where musicians earn the bulk of their bucks these days, and Gaga is no different. If even five percent of her fans buy tickets to her concerts scheduled for this spring and summer, she’ll have a wildly successful year from a financial standpoint, even if nobody else shows up.
Here’s to everyone turning over a new leaf so grandly in 2014.