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New Decade, New Reads: 2020 Music Industry Stories


Who gon’ see the future first? 

If you’re reading this, you’ve time-traveled (re: lived) through enough turbulence to deserve some backpatting. Well done.

Lots happened — and lots hasn’t — since the last time we completed a loop around the heart of our solar system. A president lobbied for the acquittal of a detained artist on foreign soil, for one. TikTok. The rise and deriding of artificial influencers. “New York is back!” More independent artists making more money than ever. Persistent economic disparity despite that previous sentence. Influential music sites downsizing (or closing altogether.) DSPs and labels and tech conglomerates getting in bed with each other (again). Creators passing away way too soon. New legislation attempting to update how songwriters are valued. Festivals coming and going. Climate change continuing to jeopardize cultures around the world. Human artists are still gobbling up the vast majority of recordings earnings though 😀

Relive / learn from / dig into some of these stories below. We sifted 100s of links before arriving at our shortlist, but consider these just the tip of the iceberg. P.S. Long reads lie ahead. You’ve been warned! 

Coming Soon

Connect 10 global socioeconomic and political trends to our industry. MUSIC x TECH x FUTURE zooms alllll the way out to predict how high-level changes on our little blue panet are bound to affect the day-to-day lives of artists and those supporting them.

Anticipate all the fallout that bad data management might dump on music.We might have a Big Crunch on our hands. Quartz breaks down all the ways different industry players are stripping musical works of their cultural nuance with narrow metadata categorizations, incidental ignorance, and willful oversight. 

See the music blogosphere’s next evolution through a teen writer’s eyes.A small army of internet kids leave no link unlistened as they search for music that moves them. We spoke with them firsthand to hear why discovery and thoughtful context in music media mean more than ever. On the frontlines of it all? 19-year-old writer Seamus Fay.

Hear about the Loudness Wars raging into yet another decade of audio engineering.Twenty Thousand Hertz tackles the systematic assault on your ears head-on in this deep-dive podcast about mixing and mastering techniques. 

Learn 10 career lessons from a bipolar, schizophrenic, gifted music journalist.Kiana Fitzgerald (FADER, Complex, NPR, Rolling Stone, etc.) pens a powerful AWAL guest post about hospitalization, crippling creative fears, outgrowing your home market, overcoming isolation, and lawyering up. It’s a riveting story we can all benefit from in 2020. 

Get ahead of Brexit headaches.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThe big bad wolf of UK politics has a good shot of actually happening after a decisive December election. The BBC took a stab at guessing how it might impact music commerce.

Still Relevant 

Trigger Cities

Chartmetric’s influential data story traces hits back to their unexpected origins overseas.

The Rise of the Ministars

Rolling Stone explores the shifting economics leaving more $ ¥ £ in more artists’ pockets.

Money Trees

Need a dollar? Water & Music examined every alternative artist financing model just for you. 

Spending Clever

Our five-part Decoded series pulled from artist marketing rollouts to help you budget yours.

Music AI <> The Law

Before we hyperjump to 2129, MusicAlly offers a reality check on artificial intelligence.


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