The rise of the Indie Artist for 2021, from Movie Soundtrack to Alternative Revenue streams…

What are the big trends for the year ahead for the indies?

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Almost every decade represents a shift in the music industry, from the way we’re able to listen and consume music in our daily lives!

The Music industry trends like boomboxes, cassette tapes, and pop hit mark the ‘80’s era, while CDs and iTunes (Apple) playing boy and girl band catchy one-hit wonders were part of the trend of the ’90s.

As we are all set to enter 2021, there’s one thing this year has taught us about the future of music in the digital age: Nothing is certain in this world!

With Covid-19 hitting the world putting a halt on live music and concert tours, musical artists have to get creative in how they continue to reach their fans with clever and constructive ways to engage their followers.

If anything, the slowdown of the music business in 2020 may have given us a little sneak peek into some of the trends for the indie artist, for the year ahead!

The rise of the Independent Artist:

As a strategic way to ride the social media wave, independent artists are finding very cool innovative ways to get in front of larger audiences through various social media channels.

In this age of “going viral,” all it really takes is that one hit song to land, you never know what’s round the corner!

Once interested, indie artists can continue sharing music via a YouTube channel or TikTok, with more creative ways that grow their fanbase. It’s a two-part endeavor, getting people to watch and enticing people to stay on your channels is another!

In some ways, it’s more difficult for indie musicians due to the music business’s competitive landscape - with all the BULLSHIT factor to navigate — and if you haven’t heard this before, this business is NO first then YES (well maybe)!

However, they have the advantage of giving people what they want from their listening experiences today: curated playlists, fresh, interesting sounds, and underground finds of musicians not yet well known but waiting to be discovered.

It feels like a treasure stumbling upon a potential next great star, which makes listeners today feel like part of the discovery process, which in its own way, has also shaped the global music market of today!

Alternative Revenue Streams for Musicians, Bands & Artists:

With live concerts, festivals, and tours currently on HOLD and with streaming subscription services on the rise, paying for actual albums has become less of the standard way to generate revenue for musicians and record labels.

It takes creative thinking and listening to fans’ feedback to truly hit the type of content and merchandise they want to receive!

As an example, Taylor Swift switched gears in 2020 and debuted a produced-in-the-pandemic album that strayed from her usual pop-country sound.

Since the original release of Folklore, she’s already introduced a special album with bonus tracks, brand merchandise to accompany the album’s themes, and most recently, an intimate concert film on Disney+ that revisited the making of the album.

It shows music industry trends in 2021 have to be just as adaptable and in tune with their audience, to what fans have come to expect.

With so much content people consume every day, there’s a difference between being a flash-in-the-pan for someone who is temporarily trending on Twitter or Instagram to growing popularity into something that’s truly going to be long-lasting.

Photo by Zachary Smith on Unsplash

Movie and TV Soundtrack:

If you’ve ever been watching an original movie or show on Netflix or Amazon and wondered, “Who played that song?” well, it's so intentional — Even when people think that was all a mess, it's all clever orchestrated to the final detail.

There are special teams behind casting and curating playlists of mainstream and indie artists that fit well with these shows’ scenes and have the sound that’ll resonate with audiences across the World.

Music that captures the attention or conjures up a certain feeling can resurrect old songs and make them mainstream again or push breakout artists front and center, which is a great opportunity!

The Return to Live Music (One day soon…)

After a definitive halt to live music events in 2020, fans will be itching to see their favorite musicians live, surrounded by the real experience that only an in-person concert provides.

How live music events will change to introduce this opportunity again remains to be seen, but with multiple avenues available now, the music industry doesn’t have to stick with one specific way to tour.

Drive-in concert events, intimate at-home live streams, and other adaptations to the concert experience give performers ways to ease into the live music scene again providing great LIVE experiences for all!

Artists will come together and provide a multi-faceted experience that will introduce fans to music in the same way genre-less playlists and algorithms aim to with the explosion of technological innovation.

Fans drive the music industry trends.

With more people having the first-hand platform to share their thoughts, preferences, and dislikes directly with artists and the executives at major labels, it makes gathering data easier to make better decisions going forward.

As with any music trends that have been popular in the past, it requires leading the pack in what’s popular at the moment and then learning how to capitalize on it for the long-term — Not an easy task!

One thing is clear to me, the “indie” artists have the opportunity to take advantage of all the tools that exist in today's world — don't get me wrong it's still lots and lots of hard work, but it's time to take a charge and be brave!

By Pete Moore



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Peter Moore

Peter Moore


Peter has lived in New York, Los Angeles and London working in the music, film and TV industries for over three decades helping creators realize their vision.