With 2012 now closed, it’s time to take a look at what might be ahead in 2013.
Here are 10 story lines to look out for in the year ahead, in no particular order of importance.
In some cases we can clearly see what might happen, while in others it’s still an open question.
1. A new trend in music. In case you haven’t noticed, we in living in the middle of two musical trends with EDM going mainstream and the folk-roots movement led by Mumford and Sons breaking big. Is 2013 going to be more of the same as both trends peak, or will there be something completely new that captures our attention?
2. Streaming music takes over. 2012 was a year for pushing the streaming music ball up the hill and so many people were converted. When Apple announces their plans for streaming in 2013, the ball will begin rolling down the other side of the mountain and downloads will join the ranks of the CD - still in use, but no longer the music distribution mainstay.
3. Guitar Center’s decline. The king of the music equipment retailers is in trouble, with falling sales and reportedly a huge balloon payment due. Don’t be surprised if you see some changes in the marketplace, with a smaller more nimble GC facing some real competition. All in all, good for the business.
4. The Big 3 provide a boost to DIY. With the Universal Music takeover of EMI now complete, we’ve moved to a 3 major label world. Although you still need a major to become an international superstar, will this be the year that mold is broken and we see a true DIY breakout?
5. Hi-res music comes to the forefront. Bandwidth and storage are now cheap, and in a world where we’re streaming hi-res video with monetary impunity, why should we still be listening to the lowly MP3? With Apple now moving to hi-res with their Mastered for iTunes program, Neil Young’s Pono (if it gets off the ground), and sites like HD Tracks, is it possible that the mass market can finally move beyond CD quality?
6. Avid’s decline. Talk about a sinking ship, Avid’s stock has fallen like a rock (although it’s been up a little in recent days), many of their best people have jumped ship, and Pro Tools looks vulnerable for the first time in years. It will still take a lot to get the entrenched pro market to change, but the upcoming NAMM show may hold a few surprises.
7. The tablet takes control. There’s no doubt that the tablet computer has taken the world by storm even to the extent that PC sales are way down. While 2012 saw a few new serious audio creation programs come to the platform, will 2013 be the year where we cross the threshold into doing serious projects on it?
8. Diminished trade show importance. With the Internet, we no longer have to go to a trade show to see what’s new. With so many of the industry trade shows faltering to the point where some of the biggest manufacturers don’t attend, look to see the trend continue toward irrelevance.
9. The increased importance of the Cloud. So much of our every day world now takes place in the cloud that it’s almost become transparent to us. Will music creation and storage switch completely to the cloud in order to increase security and eliminate leaks? Will more online collaboration make studios even less relevant than they currently are?
10. Can the album be saved? We now live in a singles world again, and although the album hasn’t totally fallen by the wayside, it’s becoming less and less important all the time. Every year a new electronic form of the album enters the marketplace, but none have yet to catch on. Will 2013 be the year that a new format wins our hearts and our pocketbooks?
There are many more than these 10 issues, but I thought that these were particularly interesting to watch for, at least in the beginning of the year.
As always, it will be fun to look back at this time next year to see how each story developed.
Have a very happy New Year, and may you find it profitable and fulfilling.
Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. For more information be sure to check out his website and blog.