The Future Of Music? Blockchain, Holograms, Virtual Personalities: Opportunities Lie In Innovative Use Of Tech

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Written by Lauren DeLisa Coleman
future of music
Future of Music: Frank Denbow, startup advocate for Microsoft, joined big names in the music industry to discuss opportunities for innovative use of tech, such as holograms. Janelle Monae, center, performs alongside holograms of M.I.A. during a launch party for the Audi A3, April 3, 2014 in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

While many are still discussing wins at the Grammy Awards, the real edge for future winners will come from the innovative use of emerging technology. This is about going beyond social media use and connecting more with innovative platforms to ensure a competitive advantage in the very near future.

Several prominent names in the music industry recently came together to discuss the possibilities at an event entitled “The Future Of Music.” They debated how hot technologies can be applied to the music industry at a salon sponsored by Bulleit Bourbon: Panelists included:

  • Frank Denbow, startup advocate for Microsoft and founder of Inflection, a community for profit-driven entrepreneurship.
  • Steve Stewart, former manager of Grammy award-winning rock band Stone Temple Pilots and now tech entrepreneur and CEO of Vezt 
  • Raj Thomas, head of marketing at BPM Supreme
  • Clinton Sparks, notable producer of Lady Gaga and Pitbull.

Here are three top insights from the event on where the opportunities lie.

Artificial intelligence

Several on the panel cited the growing interest around virtual personalities — something that could totally upend the industry. Virtual personalities and their expanding followings on Instagram could lead to massive fanbases for virtual recording artists whose work is created by AI. 

Opportunity: The right marketing, creative and tech companies here first could be winners. Coupled with the right consumer brand to power the endeavor, this attempt could be a new future trend if executed authentically.

Blockchain

Stewart said, “Finding a scalable way to include your audience in your performance is a good use of technology.” He noted that blockchain, once harnessed in the proper way, could completely disrupt the industry. His company, Vezt, is working to ensure that fans can share in royalty rights for songs from artists they love. Through blockchain, Stewart said he believes that funding and distribution is the future, not only for the artist getting paid but fans partaking in new revenue sources. 

Opportunity: those who can present better technology around blockchain and actually communicate its value proposition to the music industry could be prime power players in near future. The hurdle will be convincing established artists to get on board and provide education that truly resonates.

Live performance

From a live-performance point of view, what’s next in the future of music is about “expanding upon what’s real without cheapening the experience,” Thomas said. He cited the use of DJ holograms to enhance performance as part of the wave of what’s coming, giving examples of positive reactions to such applications on an experimental level. 

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Opportunity: Holograms have been novelties and sporadic in the past. The team that can bring costs down, create new revenue streams and get it right could create a new must-have in the music industry.

Overall, startups in this space, especially those led by Black women and women of color, need greater support to seize the opportunities.

At the same time, Black artists will need to open up to rev-share models that their pop peers use in order to remain relevant and competitive. 

The music industry is poised to undergo a massive shift once again.  This time, catching up will be nearly unachievable given how vast the shift will be. Those at the forefront of change who weather the storms as things heat up will be sure to be the next leaders in the industry.

Lauren DeLisa Coleman is a digi-cultural trend analyst, author and strategist. Her expertise is deciphering and forecasting power trends, public sentiment within the convergence of pop culture, millennials & emerging tech behavior and analyzing the impact on business, governance. Her sub-specialty is diverse demos, and she is a contributor to media outlets from Forbes to Campaigns & Elections, as well as a guest commentator on MSNBC. As an entrepreneur, she has provided strategic intelligence on projects from Snoop Dogg to Microsoft execs to public policy leaders. She heads Lnk Agency, a hot trend consulting & multimedia company. Her latest e-book is “America’s Most Wanted: The Millennial.”