All areas of the entertainment industry faced challenges and uncertainty in 2023 but we also witnessed some interesting trend changes.
Will this year prove to be even more disruptive? We’ve dissected and wrapped up predictions from experts across music and media for 2024 to find out…
In our last Synchblog, Eamonn Forde wrapped up the year of the music industry; from user-centric payments, artists getting their rights back, the sale of catalogs, label services powering forward, and not forgetting his additional article on AI and its impact too.
Following a similar suit, the predictions for this year largely surround new models. Be that how organizations operate, royalties get paid, and consumers behave – all driven by the technologies we use becoming more sophisticated.
AI as a tool, not a replacement
It will come as a surprise to no one that artificial intelligence will continue to dominate headlines this year. However, the prevailing sentiment is that it will take a more supportive role rather than a disruptive one in 2024 (2025 and beyond is a different story).
AI tools will become more transparent and omnipresent in our everyday lives, says music industry author and celebrated studio mixing engineer Bobby Owsinski. “Instead of being aware that AI is helping us, we will have Assistants, Copilots, and Companions that will do the same thing without calling attention to the technology,” he told Hypebot.
“It [AI] will find its loudest voice in the consumerization of creation but its subtler and more pervasive impact will be a steady assimilation into creative workflows.”
Mark Mulligan, MIDiA Research
AI will continue to reshape entertainment in 2024, explains MIDiA’s Mark Mulligan. “It will find its loudest voice in the consumerization of creation but its subtler and more pervasive impact will be a steady assimilation into creative workflows, becoming an ever more utilized set of tools for creation across all forms of entertainment.” Influencers using AI to generate soundtracks for videos is one example he provides here.
Opportunities for artists to incorporate AI into the creative process are seemingly endless with creators like Grimes and Holly Herndon exploring new models in this space. But if the panic surrounding viral ‘Fake Drake’ track “Heart on My Sleeve” is anything to go by, the industry’s battle against deepfakes and the copyright implications involved (not only musical but also relating to voice and likeness) is only just beginning.
Music industry podcaster and strategist Jay Gilbert predicts that, as generative AI tools become more mainstream and ubiquitous, “a new Napster” will launch to showcase and distribute all of the ‘Fake Drakes’ being created. So if these tracks gain a home could they receive awards? The suggestion that “Heart on My Sleeve” could be eligible for a Grammy was quickly put to bed in 2023, though these debates will no doubt continue in 2024.
AI will also continue to transform other areas of the industry including the sync market. Speaking to Musiio, Audioshake CEO Jessica Powell explains the potential here. “Tools like stem separation, used in partnership with rights holders will open older catalogs to sync. And the increasing use of tools for metadata and lyric transcription will make it easier than ever for supervisors and rightsholders alike to curate the perfect track.”
“Tools like stem separation, used in partnership with rights holders will open older catalogs to sync. And the increasing use of tools for metadata and lyric transcription will make it easier than ever for supervisors and rightsholders alike to curate the perfect track.”
Jessica Powell, Audioshake
While the rights framework around music and AI will continue to be disputed and defined in 2024 (more of that here), there is no doubt that we are on the brink of revolutionizing how we interact with music through AI.
Evolving consumer behavior in the digital world
The pandemic triggered a surge in the creator economy and this will only exacerbate in 2024 as creation becomes more intertwined with consumption. “If the late 2010s and early 2020s were the era of the creator, the remainder of the coming decade will become the era of the consumer creator,” explains MIDiA’s Mark Mulligan.
We’re seeing a notifiable shift in the way users engage with content as they transition into a more creative role, a trend that has been observed since 2020. Thanks to a proliferation of creator tools on digital platforms, more and more content will be user created and “creation itself will become entertainment,” says Mulligan.
“Creation itself will become entertainment.”
Mark Mulligan, MIDiA Research
Consumers are also becoming increasingly dissatisfied with large-scale digital content platforms. “The algorithm is not listening anymore” is MIDiA’s headline prediction of 2024, referring to the fact that algorithms, which once super-served users and their preferences, now tend to prioritize platform monetization objectives. This will, predicts MIDiA, create opportunities for the emergence of new platforms that prioritize user needs.
Digital platforms are also getting an increasingly bad name amongst the artist community. “The ‘DSPs are bad for artists’ narrative just became an accepted truth in 2023”,explains Darren Hemmings, MD of music-focused strategic marketing agency Motive Unknown. “It’s not that DSPs are bad”, he adds, “they’re just not great for a certain class of artist.”
Hemmings calls for new forms of consumption emerging in 2024, and new platforms to facilitate that. While convenience has dominated culture and consumption, he says, people are now on a quest for substance. He also predicts that we’ll see a move away from the social media we’re used to and a move towards more private, niche communities more akin to the forums of old.
This is echoed by MIDiA’s analysis which warns of the rise of the “threateverse” and the “growing trend of social platforms becoming toxic environments.” Users feeling afraid to speak up will lead to a shift towards gated communities where “groups of like-minded individuals can converse safely”, and within music this can only mean positive things for fandoms.
Money, money, money!
In January of 2023, Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge called for reform in the way that streaming services pay out royalties, arguing that an increasing flood of content and the rise of “functional music’ and fraud was diluting the royalty pool. UMG subsequently announced deals with TIDAL, Deezer, Soundcloud and Spotify as new ‘artist-centric’ models gained momentum, including Spotify’s new split-tier royalty model which is likely to become the basis of royalty payments moving forward.
“Skeptical of Google and other Big Tech players, expect the major labels to turn to new ‘forensic AI’ companies to both track AI fingerprints and enable new ways to pay the artists whose works and identities have been stolen.”
Peter Csathy, Creative Media
The next big challenge is arguably the impending deluge of AI-generated music on streaming platforms, as media, music, entertainment and tech expert Peter Csathy outlines in his predictions for 2024. “Skeptical of Google and other Big Tech players, expect the major labels to turn to new ‘forensic AI’ companies to both track AI fingerprints and enable new ways to pay the artists whose works and identities have been stolen.”
We already know that songwriters and publishers will get a royalty bump this year, but the songwriting community was less than pleased to hear about the sale of BMI, the world’s largest PRO in revenue terms, to private equity firm New Mountain Capital. But could the switch from a non-profit to a for-profit model actually be beneficial? “Proponents of the deal point to outside investment in BMI leading to improved technology and services that the PRO can now provide, as well as plans for international expansion that can be crucial for royalty payments in the future, says Billboard. Watch this space.
“While multiples have certainly come down, appetite and competition in the [catalog acquisition] space has not lessened one bit.”
Catalog funds once again dominated the news last year (with major eyes on Hipgnosis) and although many high-profile legacy catalogs are officially off the market, we can still expect to see lots of movement in 2024. “While multiples have certainly come down, appetite and competition in the space has not lessened one bit,”says Billboard. “Music catalog sales will continue to soar despite the current Hipgnosis meltdown (a cautionary tale), since we listen to music in good times and in bad, as reflected in Goldman Sachs’s most recent music industry report,” agrees Csathy.
AI experimentation to accelerate
Just as in music, AI is set to transform the media landscape in 2024. While Peter Csathy expects AI to eventually “upend our entire media and creative ecosystem, not to mention all of our systems period,” for the time being he predicts that creators will start to experiment with generative AI “at scale.”
He adds that while few motion picture and television industry jobs will be lost at the hands of AI in 2024, that will start to change in the years ahead. But which facets of the industry will be affected the most? Bloomberg reporter Lucas Shaw recently interviewed 50 media experts regarding the state of entertainment and when asked what part of the media industry will be the most affected by AI in the next three years, 61% voted for visual effects and animation.
“We will spend a lot of 2024 talking about lawsuits and fights between AI companies and owners of intellectual property. But let’s hope we also see some interesting experiments.”
Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg
As with music, the copyright implications here will continue to be hotly debated in 2024. Csathy believes that AI regulation will take hold in the U.S. as it has in the EU, while the courts will continue to flesh out the scope of copyright protection for AI-infused works. Shaw predicts many battles on the horizon. “We will spend a lot of 2024 talking about lawsuits and fights between AI companies and owners of intellectual property. But let’s hope we also see some interesting experiments,” he says.
Massive media mergers will continue
As Shaw shares the results of his survey he also shares his insights into the year ahead, predicting that we will hear a lot about massive media mergers.
He says the most likely candidates for 2024 are Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery, who are already discussing a merger, while the most popular combination is NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Interestingly, a whopping 80% of those Shaw surveyed believe that Paramount will be sold within the next three years.
Questioning the outcome of further consolidation Shaw said, “this may work out for investors and well-paid executives. It’s less likely to end well for employees or creatives. It would result in more layoffs and concentrate even more in the hands of a few.”
Streamers to cut costs and diversify models
Deloitte has released its global predictions for the tech, gaming and entertainment markets for 2024 and believes that streaming services will be “driven to tiers” to try and achieve profitability. More specifically, it predicts that the number of SVOD tiers offered by top US providers will more than double from the 2023 average of 4 to an average of 8. In fact, it predicts that the top five providers will offer an astonishing 17 tiers by 2024.
Meanwhile, says Csathy, so-called FAST channels (free ad supported television) will “continue their surprising assault on paid subscriptions, especially internationally – critical territories for U.S. SVOD expansion.”
“Expect all major streamers including Netflix to do more with less content.”
Peter Csathy, Creative Media
As they continue to diversify revenue models in the hope of profitability, streamers will also be continuing to reduce content budgets in 2024. “Expect all major streamers including Netflix to do more with less content,” says Csathy, who also expects more of a focus on evergreen, ever-reprogrammable franchise content. “Netflix will also begin to quietly experiment with AI to further cut costs and generate new content with better economics,” he adds.
After a tumultuous year of strikes and an increased reduction in spending, Hollywood is “going to suffer the first real contraction in output in more than a decade,” explains Shaw. According to Bloomberg, Hollywood was making 600 scripted TV shows a year before the strike. Those that Shaw surveyed expect this to fall to around 400 in 2024.
So, what are the big headlines? Unsurprisingly, AI is predicted to dominate the narrative across music and media in 2024 and beyond, presenting both exciting opportunities and daunting challenges in what promises to be a transformational year for entertainment.
What do you predict will happen for both music and media in 2024? Share your comments and thoughts below!
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- The 10 Biggest Music Business Stories of 2023 – Billboard
- Reflections on 2023 and predictions for 2024 – Network Notes
- 2024 Music Industry Predictions from Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0 – Hypebot
- 2024 Music Industry Predictions from Jay Gilbert of Label Logic – Hypebot
- MIDiA’s 2024 predictions: The algorithm is not listening – MIDiA Research
- 10 Predictions for Media, Entertainment & Tech for 2024 – Peter Csathy
- 3 expert predictions on sync in 2024 – Musiio
- How to Fix Hollywood in 15 Questions – Bloomberg
- 2024 Hollywood Predictions: Consolidate or Crumble – Bloomberg
- Deloitte unveils global tech, game and entertainment predictions for 2024 – VentureBeat
- 10 Predictions for Media, Entertainment & Tech for 2024 – Peter Csathy