Last week I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural Sandbox Summit 2017 at the London Arthouse, Islington, an event which promised a day of inspiration, networking and debate for future-thinking music marketers and brands. With a line-up including Warner Music, Universal and Atlantic Records as well as over 300 music professionals, there was fervent debate and discussion around the effect that the ever-changing world of emerging technology will have on music.
One of the dominating topics of the day was about the next generation of music consumers – not Gen Y, or even Gen Z, but the emerging Gen Alpha. The way that this age group engages with brands and technology will define the direction of the music industry over the next 5-10 years. Brands need to wise up – and here’s why:
They’re watching and engaging on screens – just not TV. Kids TV viewing figures have decreased by a massive 50% in just the last 5 years. They have moved onto iPads and mobile devices, consuming TV content via YouTube and Netflix.
There is a distinct lack of brand loyalty in this market. If Gen Alphas continue the trend, they won’t be concerned with the story or aesthetics of a brand, but with the user journey, accessibility and UX. It’s more likely they’ll base their listening decisions on ease of access.
They are very comfortable with voice recognition and AI. Unlike other generations which view these as new and emerging technologies, Gen Alphas will grow up using these every day. In the next 5 years the primary method for accessing music entertainment will be via voice command.
Voice recognition will totally reshape how audiences engage and consume music playlists. Think about it like this: you’re at a petrol garage late in the evening, speaking to the cashier through the service window. You pay for your fuel but you want a snack, so you order the first thing that comes to mind – probably something like a Mars bar and Coke. If music is consumed the same way, then how do brands and artists stay at the forefront of the younger generations’ mind?
Brands shouldn’t wait to start planning now for the changes that are guaranteed to happen in the next five years, or they’ll find themselves left behind. Even if they aren’t using your product right now, you do need to start preparing for when they will and what they’ll want. Staying knowledgeable and proactive about emerging technology is the best way to future-proof your company.
The relationship between music and new technologies is one we here at Uniform have been curious about for some time. From hosting the Everything Little Thing’s Gonna Be AI panel at SXSW, to the development of our AI emotional radio Solo, our experience with emerging technologies puts us in a fantastic position to understand the problems the music industry will face in the future.
Creating this emotional AI connection by marrying the physical and the digital channels, is just one of the many ways we can see music engagement in the future. All of our research, all this debate, ultimately boils down to one thing – what’s next for the music industry?