Diplo, Lyor Cohen, Lil Durk and More on What the Industry Can Expect In 2019

ISSUE 1 2019 - DO NOT REUSE!!!
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Lil Durk, Lyor Cohen & Diplo


“There will be a lot of young songwriters coming out. We have a hip-hop wave right now, but more people are finding out about underground music. There’s great artists like Billie Eilish, Daniel Caesar -- so many dope songwriters right now.”

Lil Durk

“Drugs [are] already a big debate, and it’s only going to get bigger. There are so many dying from it. People are trying to make it ‘Don’t do drugs,’ while you got some saying to do drugs since it has helped them out.”

Kevin O’Donnell (Manager of Music Partnerships, Twitter)

“Fan armies are going to have more of a say in things that artists do. [Look at] Weezer’s recording of ‘Africa.’ That started on Twitter with a person who set up a handle for the express purpose of getting Weezer to record a cover of the Toto song. And that snowballed with music fans on Twitter, and Weezer ended up recording it. In 2019, this connection between artists and fans is going to grow even deeper.”

Livia Tortella (Founder/CEO, BlackBox)

“You’re going to see real competition in streaming -- Apple, Amazon, YouTube Music -- as well as more disruption in distribution -- Spotify Marquee, Stem, Apple -- opening the door for continued indie artist development.”

Lyor Cohen (Global Head of Music, YouTube)

“Most of the labels are focused on data A&R. In a world where everyone has the same information, 2019 will be the year where both bespoke A&R and traditional A&R will be paramount skills necessary to win.”

Leslie Odom Jr.

“Politics will continue to play a role. It’s a political stance either way, right? It’s a political stance if you decide to get into the fray and dig in and make art about it, and it’s a political stance if you don’t.”

Gabe Saporta (Founder, The Artist Group; former frontman, Cobra Starship)

“Now that the Music Modernization Act has passed, there’s a big question about how much the publisher should be getting from streaming revenue. Labels used to argue that they were spending all these dollars for marketing, shipping, distribution and logistics, and that’s why they were getting so much more. There’s no cost of goods anymore, there’s no risk on capital for shipping and distribution, so publishers will have a stronger argument toward having a bigger piece of that pie. And they’re going to go for it. And radio is going to have a day of reckoning. This thing they just passed that SiriusXM is now paying, that’s the first step. The next step is to get radio to pay performance [royalties] on the masters, as well.”

Danny Bennett (President/CEO, Verve Label Group)

“Voice activation is coming into its own, and it’s an absolute game-changer in terms of our ability to reach more people globally. As a result, we will be putting music on demand directly into the hands of the public. This means music will be ‘always on,’ and it will break down the previous barriers of demographics and genres.”

Elvis Duran

"More and more artists are opting for the independent journey. Even though the music industry is stocked with passionate professionals who offer valuable experience and connections, the grassroots-sparked 'DIY' artists are finding enough propulsion to wedge themselves and their music into the eyes and ears of the fans."

Adam Mersel (manager, Bebe Rexha)

"More than ever before, 2019 will bring ambitious, cross-genre collaborations that blur traditional lines and celebrate bold artists that aren't afraid to think differently."


"I feel like 2018 is a parallel universe to what 1998 was for hip-hop. I can feel it and I think everyone else can feel it too. We're going into a new era -- a golden age of creativity in rap never seen before."

Justin Tranter

"It's always on trend, but I think we're going to want songwriters and artists in 2019 to have as much honesty as possible. In these very tumultuous times, we need honesty more than ever, and I think people are responding to honesty more than ever."

David Zedeck (Global Head of Music, United Talent Agency)

"The growth of hip-hop on a global scale will only continue to rise in 2019. Some of the biggest tours, festivals and headliners around the world were hip-hop this year. Beyond that, we’re seeing artists cater directly to their fans with their own curated festivals. It’s a great way for them to take creative ownership and expand their influence in the global marketplace."

Kelsea Ballerini

"As things continue to move away from actual physical albums and more toward streaming, we're able to put out more music more frequently. I think you'll see a lot more music a lot more often."

Nipsey Hussle

"I think rap will continue to grow. I would like to see another great year like 2018, but I don't know if it's realistic to have that back-to-back years in hip-hop."

Jean Nelson (President, Blueprint Group Records & Blueprint Group/Maverick)

"I am looking forward to the resurgence of longevity artists in 2019. It has been some time that we’ve seen the rise of new acts with the depth and creative artistry like some of the greats including Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole take the scene. I am anticipating a lot more of this in the coming year."

Zara Larsson

"People care about who is doing the song, not always just what it sounds like. You have to be really good at the internet if you want to be an artist today. You have to be good at navigat[ing] through the jungle of the internet like, 'how do I put my stuff out there and make people notice me?'"

Jesus Lopez (Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Latin America/Iberian Peninsula)

"The music coming out of Brazil is strong, and we are going to see that evolve into something very big."

Lou Taylor (CEO, Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group)

"We’re still going to be talking about streaming and monetizing. Spotify just turned in its last quarter’s earnings, which were below where they thought they were going to be. I think artists are still concerned on the music side about making money from master recordings. Without success in music, it’s hard to have success in the live space because that’s where most artists make their money."

Martin Kierszenbaum (Chairman, Cherrytree Music Company; manager, Sting)

"The music industry is experiencing a boom thanks to streaming. Much of that activity is driven by specific genres consumed by a narrow but dynamic demographic. As the streaming services’ user base widens and the number of adopters grows, consumer demographics will broaden and we will see a streaming explosion of evergreen catalog as well as new output from established, veteran artists."

Richard James Burgess (CEO, A2IM)

"The continued growth of the independent sector. The independent recorded music sector has grown considerably since 2005. It now commands about a 38% global market share (WINTEL report, 2018) and is substantially bigger than any major label."

Sam Taylor (Senior VP/Creative, Kobalt)

"The mainstream dominance of R&B/hip-hop will continue to lead business conversations in 2019. However, its ongoing reign will be reliant upon black industry executives’ ability to protect the culture and maintain the genre’s quality at a high level."

A version of this article originally appeared in the Jan. 12 issue of Billboard.


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