Talking Points 2012 – Music Tech Predictions

Last week’s mag featured our music predictions for 2012 (grab a back issue here if you missed it). This week on NME.COM we take an extended look at some of the topics that came up

Luke Lewis, Editor, NME.COM


We’ll see a big shakedown in the streaming market – Spotify will be the last man standing, expanding towards 100m users. Though whether it can flourish beyond 2012 depends on millions upgrading to a paid subscription, which I can’t see happening.

Companies such as The Echo Nest will continue to make cool, clever apps, but few of them will gain significant traction. Following Björk’s lead more artists will release albums as apps, but they’ll remain gimmicks, not mainstream.


Technology will enable bands to cut out third parties and market direct to fans. And live-streaming gigs via Facebook is going to become a bit of a goldrush.


Curated ‘emotion-based’ internet radio may well take off – Stereomood is particularly good, a potential challenger to Pandora’s crown.

Eamonn Forde, Music Business Writer

MP3s will become less important. Spotify will be rolled into your monthly phone or broadband bill, which will bring the relevance of owning music into question for a younger generation.

Music and “the social” will go mainstream. By logging into sites like Spotify via Facebook, users are leaving digital breadcrumbs around the internet. These sites then use that information to improve their service in a way that’s useful for advertisers.


Open APIs (application programming interface) will be where the innovation happens. Having open APIs means that different software and applications can talk to each other. It’s software’s hip-hop moment, where programs get mashed together and something completely new comes out of it that wasn’t intended by either of the original independent companies.

The Stop Online Piracy Act in the US could have a huge effect globally, if passed. A piece of legislation that dates from 1998, the ‘safe harbor exemption’ within the Digital Millennium Copyright Acts, means that services currently cannot be held liable for the copyright infringements of their users, but if requested, have to take down illegally uploaded copyrighted material.

SOPA would abolish that – YouTube would have to scan everything that went up on its site, which would be impossible. If SOPA goes through, services we take for granted will become very different. And for genres like hip-hop, where sampling and mixtapes are essential for the growth of the genre, SOPA could squash all of them.

An edited version of this article appeared in the 31st December issue of NME magazine.