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2021 will be a very interesting year for production music companies. Are you ready for it?

Uncertainty caused by the Covid pandemic, combined with new technological and business developments, will offer big opportunities and serious risks for all stakeholders in the industry this year. Companies that are aware of upcoming trends are more likely to come out on top. That’s why we’ve created this list of production music trends for markets and for tech in 2021.

Based on our own research and the opinions of our partners, this list describes where we think production music is headed this year. Considering these trends now, early in the year, will put you ahead of the curve, positioning you to take advantage of new developments while avoiding risks.


1. More Music Than Ever, And More Competition

Everyone in the industry should be excited about the explosion of music we are seeing these days and which will continue throughout 2021. More composers and labels are putting out new content now, and challenging the industry’s established business models.

More content and more competition mean more opportunities and challenges. Above all, this is a sure sign that this industry is thriving.

Key point: There could be more music produced and released in 2021 than ever before, and there will also be more competition.

2. Clients Want Faster, Easier Licensing

Clients will demand more from content owners and distributors this year, expecting faster turnaround and easier licensing as they stock up on content in early 2021 to avoid possible disruptions later in the year—caused by Covid or other complications.

According to discussions at the Future of Television event in November, 2020, many broadcasters used all the television and audio-visual production content they had in reserve when new productions ceased during the first wave of Covid. Even with Covid (hopefully) becoming less of an issue in 2021, there will be a push to create massive amounts of new content in the first half of the year as broadcasters seek to avoid future slowdowns. Music companies should be prepared to work more efficiently, delivering more content faster than ever before.

Key point: Music companies will need to find and deliver more music faster this year.

3. Massive Opportunities Due To Increased Production With Streaming Services

The worldwide user penetration for streaming services is expected to increase from 11.9% in 2020 to 17.2% in 2025 (<a>[source](</a>). That increase comes with new demands for more content.

As platforms like Netflix, Amazon TV and HBOGO continue to pour money into new productions, music companies can step in and reap the benefits of the growing market for streaming services. Content owners and distributors who can scale up to meet this demand will have plenty of new briefs to respond to.

Key point: The growing number of productions for streaming services means more opportunities for content owners and distributors.

4. More Usage, Less Value

While the growing creation and consumption of content means more music usage than ever before, that won’t directly translate to higher licensing fees and royalty incomes.

The second half of 2020 was a time of belt-tightening, and that mindset will continue to prevail in 2021. While there might be some exceptions for high-end projects and specific markets, most music companies will see reduced fees per license this year. That means working more efficiently and maximizing the music catalog will be a necessity.

Key point: Higher usage with decreased licensing fees means music companies have to work more efficiently to license more content.

5. Everyone Will Do More With Less

Successful content owners and distributors will differentiate themselves in 2021 by consistently delivering more bang for each buck, because everyone will have to do more with fewer resources this year.

Thanks to Covid, many production companies have been forced to reduce their workforce. But with demand for new content increasing, team members will have to produce more than ever. There are still only 24 hours in a day, so working both smarter and harder will be the name of the game for music companies.

Key point: Teams will shrink, meaning everyone will have to produce and deliver more content.


6. More Remote Work Means Less Content Centralization

Covid forever changed the nature of work. It doesn’t look like we’re going back to the old model where everyone is expected to congregate in one building and keep all content centralized. Now, content needs to be accessible from anywhere.

New online editing software is becoming more prevalent as well, with more cloud-based technology available than ever before. This comes along with increased working through Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as just about every employee knows well. In production music, this means music and television or audio-visual production content needs to be accessible from anywhere.

Key point: Content needs to be online and accessible to employees and clients working anywhere.

7. Tech Will Ensure A More Efficient Workflow

The most successful content owners and distributors in 2021 will be those who harness the power of advanced technology including Artificial Intelligence to take on basic, repetitive tasks.

Prioritizing time is going to be crucial this year. Everyone’s trying to work more effectively, but music companies that can focus on being creative will come out ahead. Fortunately, technology exists that can take care of tasks like keyword tagging while cutting down on the time spent searching for music.

Key point: AI-based music similarity searching will be an industry standard in 2021.

8. Search Engines Will Become The Product

With competition increasing in 2021, when growth in available music will be offset by more companies in the industry, tools that can search catalogs quickly and efficiently are going to be key for successful music companies.

As the quality and amount of music continues to increase, music search engines will be even more of a differentiating factor than music for content owners and distributors.

Key point: Music search engines will differentiate content owners and distributors even more than the music in their catalog.

9. More Accurate Cue Sheets And Tracking

Especially in larger markets, we are seeing a movement toward technology to maintain more accurate cue sheets and tracking, while content owners as well as creative agencies and clients seek more security for their assets.

Broadcasters are now utilizing Music Recognition Technology to improve the accuracy of their reporting. Meanwhile, the International Confederation of Music Publishers are creating a global cue sheet template that should help regulate and monitor the use of production music across markets. That means companies should make sure their data is more accurate and more available than ever.

Key point: Using powerful technology for cue sheets and tracking will become an industry standard.


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