Music never stands still. It can’t. Whether it’s through changes in culture or technology, new instruments or techniques, the march of time has always and will always change music.
It’s easy enough to see, each decade has a specific sound that is instantly recognisable. The dance tracks of the 70s, the campness of 80s music and the guitar sound of the 90s all instantly ring a bell, letting you know the era a song is from.
Madonna is a perfect example of how evolving your music can keep you on top. While women in music have forever been unfairly judged by their looks and youth, Madonna’s ability to continually stay relevant is a reflection of her uncanny ability to forever keep just ahead of musical trends.
But there is more to music than just the stylistic differences that occur. So with both a new year and a new decade dawning, it’s time to look ahead to what the future is going to bring.
Knowledge Is Power
With courses like the ones that ACM offer becoming more widely available, musicians are better educated in regards to the business side of the industry than ever before. Young musicians now realise the importance of business practices like holding on to copyrights and understanding their power when it comes to negotiating royalty-splits.
And with technology allowing younger artists to self-release with an ease that has never been seen before, major labels are massively losing out, while indie labels are improving their market share by more than 10% a year.
Say Goodbye To Genres
While rap fusing with other genres is nothing new – see Aerosmith and Run DMC’s Walk This Way, or the Collision Course EP by Linkin Park and Jay Z as just two examples – 2019 took it to a whole new level. Before last year, no one could have predicted that Billy Rae Cyrus would team up with an unknown rapper to release a song like Old Town Road. But team up they did, and the result was one of the standout tracks of the year, and the rap/country fusion peaked on the Billboard 100 for nineteen consecutive weeks, a new record.
But rap joining with other genres is only the start. With streaming services like Deezer and Spotify gaining users year on year, the divisions between genres are beginning to blur. Music becoming cheaper means that it is easier to access, and people no longer have to be more picky with the music they choose to buy. This in turn helps to break down walls between the traditional ‘tribes’ that evolved. Now that people are exposed to a wider range of genres from younger ages, doubtless further musical fusion will occur.
Shorter Is Better
The most popular songs have gradually become shorter and shorter. Between 2018 and 2019, the average length of Top 40 tracks became 30 seconds shorter.
There is no particular reason that has yet become apparent as to why this is, it may be a case of younger generations’ shorter attention span, but from a statistical point of view, shortening your songs could increase their popularity.
Culture Clashes, Culture Progresses
(ACM Student LaMont – Winner of Pride’s Got Talent 2018)
Global political trends may suggest cultural progression is slowing down, but music once again bucks the trend, showing itself to be a unifying force.
Music isn’t only about the songs themselves, events centred around music have their own trends that constantly evolve. Globally, cultural progression is currently being fuelled by club nights that are opening up for certain parts of society that have long been oppressed. While clubbing centres like London, Brighton and Berlin have a history of being more advanced in regards to LGBTQ+ rights, all three are experiencing a rise in female queer and gay nights.
Many have always felt that gay clubbing scenes have traditionally been dominated by male-centric events, leaving their female counterparts with few places they feel comfortable partying in. But recently the advent of club nights like Aphrodyki, LICK and Room 4 Resistance aim to offer not only somewhere to dance, but also a meeting place and a safe space for the female gay and queer community.
This is a clear mark of how trends in music are not only about the tracks that are released, but also how music can provide a framework to promote cultural changes that improve people’s lives.
ACM Leading The Way
So if you’re searching for artists that are doing things their own way and setting the trends for 2020, look no further – here’s just three of ACM’s up and coming stars.
LUNA – Since her first release in 2017, LUNA has carved herself out a niche with her mix of ‘trap sounds, political statements and poetry all wrapped up in powerful forces of energy’.
Liza Lo – Drawing on her Dutch roots, Liza combines electronic production with powerful vocals to create a unique, ethereal sound.
Luke Lorenz – Rapper, singer, songwriter, Luke Lorenz combines his talents to produce his own style of alternative pop with an exciting 2020 ahead.
Of course, there is also the theory that musical trends are cyclical. All musicians are influenced by the artists they grew up listening to, so there will forever be elements of the past in the future. But learning from the past is how we evolve. Just because artists like Madonna and David Bowie did it first, that doesn’t mean that learning from their pioneering efforts won’t improve music that is still yet to come.
If you dream of achieving success in the creative industries, come along to one of our Open Days. We can’t wait to see what our alumni do next – and we’d love to welcome you into the ACM community.