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Sunday, December 30, 2012

10 Of The Biggest Stories For 2013

2013 image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture blog
I don't normally cross-post between my Music 3.0 music industry blog and Big Picture production blog, but the topics below apply to both. As 2012 draws to a close, now is the 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. And once again, thanks for reading!


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Unknown said...

Bobby: I was wondering about AVID. There was no physical presence of them at this years AES in San Francisco though they are local. So how is the money flowing away from AVID and to where?

Bobby Owsinski said...

Avid got hurt much more on the video side rather than the Digi side. Got their butts kicked by Final Cut for a lot of years, and now that FCP is vulnerable, they haven't been able to jump in to fill the void because prices too high and other good alternatives.

As a result, stock prices go down, the board of directors gets nervous, the high-priced talented people get whacked, and the R&D budget goes down.

In audio, the business has contracted and it's saturated so no room to grow. The majority of sales comes from people updating, which doesn't make for happy customers. Etc, etc, etc. The audio business is a tough place for a public company.

Unknown said...

Bobby: I did a quick Google on Avid and one of the first things that came up was the Glassdoor.COM posts from employees. Gosh I have not seen posts from so many (post)employees complaining about their management lacking the vision or even have a feel of the industry. Sounds typical, a company which is maturing on its past glories. I've been there in similar situation... started one, left there etc. Also at the same time, they have alienated "home" recorders with very high price tag. I am sort of glad that I have chosen LOGIC now, even though there is some degree of evil in any one of these sort of things. Looks like a business chance to some startups!

Fred Decker said...

Dear Bobby,

You ask, "Can the album be saved? We now live in a singles world again..." Good question!

I think your question is interesting aesthetically, because the shorter format imposes different constraints from the longer format -- and offers different advantages for the listener.

When I was a kid, playing 45's was like being a make believe DJ. Albums were more about creating an atmosphere in my opinion. I sort of got pressured out of 45's because they weren't cool when I got to high school, but was that a good thing? Rather than seeing the two formats compete wouldn't it be a better world if both existed and were appreciated?


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