The past year in music brought with it a plethora new faces and milestones, some them more applause-worthy and conspicuous than others. Given that we’re still very much in the early transformative stages  , understanding the shifts that are happening now will provide a window into the future. With all that said, let’s take a look at how the music industry is evolving as we head into the new decade.

Going Global

Beyond hip hop’s success in the U.S., where it’s now the biggest music genre in terms total consumption, it has rapidly grown into a worldwide mainstream commodity. The unlimited connectivity the internet has exponentially sped up this globalization and has amounted to substantial revenue opportunities. Expanded operations and an influx capital on the African continent, as well as in Asia and the Middle East, are beginning to transform once dormant markets into legitimate players in the music economy, with the potential to not only reach billions new users, but also expose more localized talent to a wider audience. Democratization and collaboration are the cornerstones modernity, and hip hop’s forging international bonds has the power to crack all manner charts. The past year alone delighted fans with the mainstream arrival acts ranging from Billie Eilish to BTS to Burna Boy, as well as increased visibility surrounding the UK’s effervescent grime scene and Asia’s experimental music fireworks.

A Post-Genre Era

Predicting 2020 Music Trends

Lil X and 6lack attend the 2019 GQ Men the Year After Party – Randy Shropshire/Getty s 

Music journalists and industry gatekeepers have long had an unhealthy obsession with pigeonholing artists into categories. Yet thanks to the unfettered expansion hip hop’s cultural footprint, diversification and hybridization were in full bloom in 2019, a year in which the stars aligned for several music’s boldest and brightest trailblazers. None were more distinguished than Lil Nas X, who marched (spurred cowboy boots in tow) to the gates Billboard to take on the charts giant, where he ultimately emerged unscathed with the longest running No. 1 song in U.S. chart history. The inescapable rise “Old Town Road” would not have been possible without forward-thinking curatorial outlets like TikTok and Triller that allow users everywhere to repurpose and share their music. Such platforms have facilitated in breaking down barriers between genres through their capacity for virality and fueling   all manner remixes, edits, and mashups. Prejudices and preconceived notions continue to crumble beneath the blossoming conception music as a fluid frontier, capable supporting the lush sonic smoothies Kfee, the stylized he-loves-me-not musings , and the drill-based provocations Pop Smoke.

More Breakout Success For Female Emcees

Predicting 2020 Music Trends

Kehlani & Megan Thee Stallion attend ‘s Diamond Ball, 2019 – Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty s

 grabbed the public’s attention in 2019, whether it was Lizzo with her triumphant theatrics on “Truth Hurts,” Saweetie and City Girls with their call-and-response anthems, or Megan Thee Stallion and her devoted Hot Girl Summer “hotties.” Others like Noname, Rapsody, Rico Nasty, and Tierra Whack further contributed to the astounding resurgence women in hip hop. In fact, 2019 “yielded the highest total (female) rappers making their mark on the Billboard Hot 100 this decade,” a statistic that speaks to just how electrifying the conversation has become in recent years. While there’s no denying the outsized impact women in hip hop over the course the genre’s history, it finally feels as if the narrative is beginning to shift to appropriately honor and celebrate both the veterans who paved the way and the new faces who are preserving and building upon their legacy. 

Social Media’s Cult Of Personality

If ’s dramatic rise and fall taught us anything, it’s that self-made stars and precocious personalities are hoisted by the masses the social media age. Universal access to smartphones, and by association social media, is empowering artists to keep pace with their audiences at a previously unprecedented rate. Now more than ever, artists are encouraged to develop bold branding strategies and imagery that sticks, and they’re choosing to connect with listeners directly rather than through the squeaky clean lens their handlers. All this has produced a completely new and refurbished pop landscape in which music makers are firmly in the driver’s seat when it comes to nurturing media presence, while labels in the traditional sense the word have resigned themselves to a more hands-f role as financial overseers and talent investors.

The Intersection Of Videos Games, Online Entertainment, & Live Music

Predicting 2020 Music Trends

Blueface performing at Rolling Loud LA edition 2019 – Photo by Evie Hfman for HNHH exclusively

Virtual reality and live streaming are tech spaces with endless possibilities, and they’re aiding artists in orchestrating massive cultural moments that unfold in real time. In February, Marshmello’s historic Fortnite concert brought in upwards 10.7 million live “attendees” in what could very well prove to be the tip the iceberg for virtual viewership. Meanwhile, 800,000 users tuned in to the YouTube premiere Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” while over 600,000 scampered to Twitch to watch Ninja and Drake take a crack at duos in the aforementioned battle royale. ” boasted a throng 60,000 strong at its inaugural New York set this past fall, and with plans to take the show overseas, there’s no telling what the ceiling might be for high-end livestreaming experiences. Who knows: VR capabilities that enable Adam Levine and Jonah Hill to share courtside seats at a live Lakers game could translate into groundbreaking new avenues engagement for those looking to snag virtual concert tickets and take in the action up close while still in their pajamas.

Riding The “Content” Tidal Wave

Content diversification on streaming services was never a matter if but a matter when. Investment in exclusive and original content is well underway: we’ve already seen Spotify take ambitious steps to monopolize the realm podcasts with their purchase Gimlet & Anchor, and Pandora established a Podcast Genome similar to the one that powers its internet radio service. Given how scalable technology has become, it’s no surprise that multi-format creative agencies are thriving. The crossover between music and gaming has taken video outlets YouTube and Twitch by storm, while music-based platforms such as COLORS and Lyrical Lemonade are creating compelling blueprints for the future and re-envisioning their role in the space along the way. This entrepreneurial spirit has resulted in the convergence different areas media, whether that be music, fashion, film, etc. Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, ’s “Fuck That’s Delicious,” Offset’s partnership with esports organization FaZe Clan, and ’s involvement in the revival Top Boy are but a few example artists re-envisioning themselves as entertainers and content creators.

No End In Sight For Album Tug Of War

Augmented by the boon major platform playlists, the discussion surrounding the fluctuation the album format has been defined by two distinct schools thought. On one hand, homogenized and infensive music devoid creative merit has engendered passive consumption on a massive scale, as vastly popular algorithms continue to dictate the prosperity bloated releases. It’s a trend that isn’t going anywhere: lengthy tracklists do numbers, and artists will likely continue to submit desperate, long-winded bids as a means gaming the system. Elsewhere, more succinct and palatable releases, most notably those comprising Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music rollout summer 2018, have garnered equal attention if for different reasons. All this is to say that both ends the spectrum are finding success in the pursuit replayability, further bolstering the eternal struggle between quality and quantity.

An Appetite For Conceptually-Conceived Music

The Trump-born melange crisis and confusion has opened the door for artists to explore ideas identity and rich, politically-tinged narratives. It’s an environment ripe for socially-literate creatives looking to voice their anger and frustrations with the state the world. Ambitious vessels such as Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly are the audio equivalent an escape from modernity’s fractured state, and their success in blurring the lines fiction and reality underlines a demand for forging deeper connections with artists and the environments they weave.

What do you predict for 2020? Let us know in the comments.

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