When I recently looked back at my 2012 music tech predictions it became clear that I have no special visibility into the future. Mostly I would say my thoughts about future music tech trends have more to do with what's interested me in the prior year and where those developments might go in the coming year.
My take on 2013 music tech trends follows that perspective with a combination of this area is probably going to keep growing" and this development in relationship to other developments is likely to result in [fill in the blank]".
Increased Partnerships & Integrations Between Artist Services Companies
One of the two I considered, left out and am now reconsidering is more like the first. In 2012 partnerships between music tech companies serving artists multiplied over the course of the year often with a focus on finding ways to integrate services.
Many tech companies that provide services to musicians take a stripped down approach focusing on one problem, such as being able to sell one's music anywhere from one's own website to Facebook, that is connected to other problems, such as how to build a strong social media presence. Rather than continuing to add solution after solution to create a total package for musicians, many music tech companies are focusing on their chosen area of expertise and integrating their services with that of others.
For example, PledgeMusic has done a particularly good job of extending what they do by integrating with other services so that musicians sometimes even have the option of choosing a service that competes on a particular feature with PledgeMusic.
Topspin is another artist services company that is well known for its partnerships and integrations, for example, their announcement in November that they were integrating the services of Artist Growth, Firebrand, INgrooves Fontana and PledgeMusic in order to make it easier for musicians to handle their business through Topspin.
With last week's appointment of Ian Rogers as CEO of Beats' Daisy Project, I was reminded that such integrations are likely to increase as services connect to provide total solutions for musicians while focusing internal efforts on becoming best of breed providers.
These interconnections are becoming essential to survival as music tech companies face increasing numbers of copycat competitors and musicians face what sometimes seems like an overwhelming number of options for any particular need. When handled effectively they also provide potential media opportunities which are an important aspect of being identified by musicians as best-of-breed.
Tech Media Discovers Full Range of Music Tech Activity
It's long disturbed me that tech blogs and news outlets seem to be primarily interested in filesharing/copyright, streaming music and music services offered by big tech companies whose primary mission is not music. This is well illustrated by taking Techmeme as a reasonable indicator of what the tech world considers important music tech news in 2012.
During last year's midem gathering I noticed that Techmeme, which I typically check multiple times a day, was not posting any of the coverage I was seeing from music tech and music business sites. I tweeted at them about it and the response suggested that it wasn't on their radar. But when major tech blogs like The Next Web began posting, suddenly midem was on Techmeme's agenda.
Last week The Next Web announced that they would be attending midem with an explanation of why they're attending as if it might be a bit baffling to their audience. Given that midem did make some nice moves related to music tech last year, it makes sense that more tech blogs would start to pay attention. But I believe that this is part of a process that will include more visibility in tech media for smaller music tech companies as well.
This development will certainly help companies that have had trouble getting coverage beyond the usual music biz/tech news outlets. In particular it may well boost investment in the space as tech investors realize that there are lots of great music tech companies out there that are not facing the difficult challenge of licensing music. That could actually be the biggest outcome since many music tech companies seek media coverage as much or more for validation with investors as to attract customers.