Blog Media & Marketing

2024 will be a year of change (as if there has not been enough already)

Cover image for 2024 will be a year of change (as if there has not been enough already)

Photo: Fábio Lucas

Photo of Hanna Kahlert
by Hanna Kahlert

Four years ago today, the Covid-19 pandemic was but a rumour on the wind.

Since then, it would be an understatement to say that much has changed. Digital entertainment consumption boomed and rapidly overwhelmed all forms of activity, making it almost hard to remember what entertainment was like pre-pandemic. Content has proliferated; TikTok has taken the West by storm, and Taylor Swift has become arguably the first superfan-fuelled billionaire. 

However, it is not all smooth sailing and more change is yet to come.

Big events have big impacts

Global events are escalating, from international conflicts to the climate crisis. 2024 will be the biggest election year in history, with major elections set to take place in the US, UK, India, and more. Not only will this impact regulation, these events are already affecting consumer behaviour and will continue to do so. Music listening is moving away from genres and albums, towards moods – and it turns out ‘sad’ is the growing trend among younger audiences. Film titles set for 2024 revolve around Marvel-esque escapism and ominously-tinged societal reflections with apocalyptic undertones. Continuing crisis and conflict will also affect supply chains and consumer budgets – especially in emerging markets, which will have knock-on effects worldwide on spending power and attention. 

The rise of audience autonomy

Additionally, audiences are becoming more active and intentional in their consumption. Creativity is a growing trend, driven largely by tools on social platforms. This sense of consumer empowerment emerges in other ways, too. Music fans in particular are highly climate-conscious in their decision-making, revealing that mass-market offerings have untapped opportunities for uptake in addition to the high-cost premium propositions (like Apple) currently on the market. On the other hand, events can result in boycotts and companies changing their policies, as with Puma’s recent sponsorship decision. 

Streaming versus success

Consumer creativity is linked to the boom of the creator economy, with more artists than ever building careers on their own terms. However, this is resulting in a breakdown of streaming economics and discovery. There is constant access to seemingly endless amounts of content, with casual creations served side by side with professional, high-budget productions, that its ‘value’ is deteriorating in the eyes of consumers. Music in particular is facing a data crisis, with the metrics of streaming and social not always reconciling with success, whether in revenue or cultural impact terms. 'Listening' does not mean hearing, much less caring – making it hard to measure fandom. While music was the first entertainment sector to feel these second-order impacts of on-demand streaming, they are coming for other industries as well.

This crisis of value in the streaming world is coming at the same time as digital-focused companies are looking to grow revenue streams – be it raising the cost of subscriptions or, in the case of social platforms, looking at subscriptions as a way to diversify from ad revenue. (MIDiA Research has just released a report diving into this, by the way.)

AI on the horizon

The generative AI boom is exacerbating all of the above. It is making it easier for anyone to create, more content likely to flood all available platforms, and all without the certainty of copyright shoring up the potential threats to existing rightsholders. Generative AI itself does not yet have an established revenue model, following the standard tech company path of ‘mainstream adoption first, figure out monetisation later’. The main issue that copyright brings up in this environment is twofold: on the one hand, it is hard for AI companies to monetise what could potentially be a huge copyright fiasco and equally hard for other companies to adopt generative AI into their businesses without inviting that same liability. On the other hand, it is a huge threat to creators who are seeing their works used in training datasets with no compensation. 

Analogue revival? 

The global situation underlying the current market, from climate crisis to creator tools, is changing. Industries must either adapt to keep up, or risk falling behind consumers and creators who are increasingly empowered by technologies and new habits to make their own ways. A return to pre-digital success avenues, like analogue, are ironically likely to be successful in this environment. Analogue (like putting on a record) and IRL (like going to a gig) experiences provide the authenticity, scarcity, and value that audiences crave. They also offer a protected release pathway for artists afraid their works will not be protected from use in AI training.

Furthermore, as content proliferation (especially AI fakes) and algorithmic filter bubbles undermine consumers’ trust in and value of the digital world, some will increasingly return to real-world certainty outside of their phones. Others will dive into its escapism, going all-in on digital communities and feel-good content. Expect diverging behaviours – some of which will be easy to keep track of on digital platforms, and others for which digital will make up but a small portion of their activity. 

Fasten your seatbelts. 2023 was wild; 2024 is going to get weird. 

For more future-forward insights, check out MIDiA’s 2024 predictions report.

The discussion around this post has not yet got started, be the first to add an opinion.


Add your comment