Friday, August 17, 2012

Fall Music Trend Forecast

As we head into another Fall season and watch 2012 start to fade into history the musical stars do point out some interesting changes showing up as we read the charts, music releases, and audience trends.  Some facts and trends and what they could be pointing to?

  • CHR has had a big Spring and Summer - As the Spring books were rolling out you could see the trends for CHR stations.  Record shares in many markets.  We've also seen more and more stations moving to the format.  But, CHR has been on a roll for around 4 years now.  Could it be at a peak and the real news here is that CHR stock is at the high end of it's range?  
  • Spring looked very good for Alternative Pop crossovers.  Gotye, Monsters and Men, Fun., GroupLove, Foster the People, and a few others manged to crossover from Alternative to the Pop charts.  But, has anyone been able to establish themselves on the CHR side for more than 1 song here?  We seen trends like this before in CHR - they often seem like a 6 month flu that passes.  
  • For the Fall there are some more Alternative leaning songs in the pipeline that could  cross over - The Lumineers, Alex Claire maybe some others?   But, while we are seeing a little more presence for some Rock leaning songs in the Pop world it's not a place to build a career.  
  • Pure Pop music is really driving the CHR ship. Katy Perry can get away with re-packaging her last CD and adding a few new tracks and stay on the charts for 3 years and counting.    You can also see other pop artists that pretty much start and live on CHR radio - Maroon 5 is probably the best example but there are plenty more. 
The reality here is if you want to really build an artist and not just 'get a hit song' CHR is a very tough place to make that transition.  Since the 'age of the download' began we have transitioned away from CDs or Albums as the main packaging for music.  Now we download it , pop it into the playlist and unless we stumble on other songs from the artist or become a big fan we may never be exposed to else from a hit artist.  

Right now CHR radio sits at the center with music coming from nearly all the other formats  But, how long will CHR keep opening it's doors?  As the wars for audience continue with more stations jumping in and other AC formats leaning on more and more music from the CHR world.   Will CHR retreat to a war around the real core - young females?  Will the format start to focus more and more on their world and and hits? 

As we head into the Winter it's very possible we'll see the audience shift it's focus.   Here are some trend points: 

  • Will Country pop back into the spotlight.   Go back a couple of years and you see Lady A and Taylor Swift pulling a lot of audience more and more into listening to Country.  Will the new Taylor Swift be able to stand up in the spotlight?  Will it draw those P2 and P3 young females over to spending more time with Country stations?   It could be possible, but will Country Radio embrace Taylor or continue to play her but not embrace her?   Could there be an opportunity to build a real young/female country lean to the format that lives in the pop side of the format? 
  • The spotlight on breaking Indie Bands will continue to surprise.  But, will any of the bands break out and become more than a 1 hit wonder?  Another possibility here is a band that avoids crossing over or appealing to CHR to make sure they don't hurt their Indie Cred.  Having stations returning to the Alt format in NYC and Chicago will help bands break out here.  
  • Harder Rock will continue to shun any crossover attempts.  Bands that make it to the pop charts are doomed with their core in this world
  • Rap and Hip Hop - One segment has clearly merged with Pop in this world and another tangent is moving further and further away from being even accessible to the pop or radio world.  Will this end up being a world that starts to live more and more in a world that doesn't crossover very much or at all?  
You can see the forces within the audience and the formats here.  CHR is looking like it will become an even more Pure Pop world that will probably have less and less variety in the mix.   This usually leads to more and more button pushing from the audience and we'll probably see that the big CHR shares this summer are the peak that will level off over the next 6-8 months.  This opens up the door for Alternative, Country, Urban/Hip Hop stations to get more attention on the stage.   

Even though a lot of the younger audience claims 'radio is so over' for discovering new music we continue to see more evidence that Radio still rules - look at the recent Nielsen study.   If you want to see how important it still is just dial up the wikipedia story of Katy and see how radio really built her career from 2007 till 2010 when Teenage Dream was released  .