2023 has undeniably been a revolutionary year for the gospel music industry with the breaking of traditional boundaries that previously surrounded the genre. As we welcome the new year, we are certain that gospel music is set for an exciting evolution with newer trends shaping its sound. In this article, we will explore predictions for the coming year, but first, let's reflect on the changes that have that took place in the past year.
An upturn in live events
Granted, live shows are still finding their way back since 2020, but this year many artists did more to reach their audience off social media. There was a rise in the demand and supply of live-shows than in 2022. Artists also found more ways to drive fans to websites, mailing lists, and actual shows.
Genre-crossing and blends
An increasing number of producers and musicians created music without sticking to a single style, diminishing the significance of genres and sub-genres. For instance, playlists centered around moods gained even more popularity, reflecting a shift where listeners chose music based on their emotions rather than strict genre preferences.
The increasing popularity of AI
Artificial intelligence became more popular. For example, YouTube introduced Dream Track, an experimental tool that allows users to generate song snippets using the voices and styles of famous artists, such as Charlie Puth, Charli XCX, Demi Lovato, and Sia. These AI-generated snippets can be legally used in YouTube Shorts. YouTube has also rolled out new Premium features powered by AI, acknowledging concerns about AI and addressing how they plan to handle AI content on their platform. Simultaneously, the UK government is engaging in discussions about legislation to protect artists in the context of AI.
Continued dominance of short-form video (TikTok, Instagram Reels anf YouTube shorts)
2023 witnessed a continued surge in the dominance of short-form video platforms, notably TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. These bite-sized platforms are not just trends but integral components continually shaping the future of gospel music. As of the latest data in 2023, While TikTok remains a powerhouse for gospel music with over 2 billion active users, Instagram reels has become a harmonious space for gospel artists and YouTube Shorts has helped diversify the content available to gospel enthusiasts.
Superfans and Community
There was a rising trend in exclusive and subscriber-only content - Instagram Communities and YouTube Patreon are good examples of this.
Our predictions for 2024
Technology-Driven Worship Experiences
Advancements in technology and the rise of Artificial Intelligence may shape music experiences in 2024. Expect immersive events like virtual reality concerts, live-streamed worship sessions, and interactive online platforms, offering believers novel ways to connect with gospel music globally. Additionally, digital playlists could be generated using AI technology.
Continued dominance of short-form video content
The ongoing prevalence of short-form video content continues to shape the digital landscape. Over the past twenty years, the average attention span has decreased from 12 seconds to 8.25 seconds. With DSPs like Spotify entering the short-form video scene, the influence of video content is expected to grow even more in 2024. Musicians and professionals should stock up on content, and keep at the back of their mind that short-form content is here to stay. "Everything is content, EVERYTHING is content" .
The Rise of Gen Z and DIY Artists
With Gen Z becoming a significant force in the world as a whole, anticipate a surge of young artists making their mark in 2024. These talented musicians, known not just for their skills but also for their social and political awareness, will bring fresh perspectives and messages to the forefront of mainstream music. Jay Gilbert from Label Logic foresees a notable increase in daily track uploads to DSPs. The current average of 60,000 tracks is expected to double to 120,000. If platforms like Soundcloud and YouTube are included, this figure is projected to grow from 120,000 to 240,000.
More Innovative Fusion of Genres
Gospel music, known for its history of adapting to contemporary sounds will continue this trend in 2024. In the coming year, artists will persist in pushing boundaries by merging genres to craft a truly hybrid sound. Anticipate a blend of genres, such as R&B, hip-hop, and electronic elements seamlessly incorporated into gospel compositions. This innovative mix of styles will resonate with diverse audiences while hopefully staying true to the core message of faith.
Collaborations Across Worship Movements
In 2024, we'll see a significant change with more collaborations between different worship movements. Artists from diverse Christian denominations and backgrounds will come together to produce music that goes beyond conventional limits, promoting unity and acknowledging the diversity within the body of Christ.
Socially Conscious Lyrics
In 2024, gospel music might increasingly reflect a raised awareness of social issues. More artists could incorporate messages of justice, compassion, and a call to action into their lyrics, aiming to inspire and encourage believers to actively participate in positive change as the world grapples with ongoing challenges.
The Continued Rise of Spanish Music
Gospel music has been witnessing a steady rise in Spanish influence, case-in-point, the introduction of 'Spanish recorded song of the year' and 'Spanish Language Album of the Year' in Dove Awards. With the growing popularity of artists such as Alex Zurdo, Miel San Marcos, Daniel Calveti, Marcos Witt, Ingrid Rosario, Sarai Rivera, in 2024, this trend is likely to persist, giving rise to more crossover hits and collaborations between Spanish and mainstream gospel artists.
A greater focus on superfans and community
In 2024, superfans will become even more important in an artist’s career. To stand out in the oversaturated content and music landscape, artists should prioritize building a dedicated community and fostering relationships with superfans. Rather than viewing their fan base as a whole, artists and their teams should identify and connect with those willing to strongly support them.
Additionally, there's a rising trend in exclusive and subscriber-only content. With two-tier licensing and diverse streaming payout models, artists are likely to focus on creating subscription-based content for monetization. This trend offers a potential alternative revenue stream, especially for mid-tier artists. While DSPs may enter the subscription-based hosting market, it remains uncertain whether artists will choose them or opt for specialized third-party providers.
As we step into 2024, the landscape of gospel music holds the promise of being vibrant and dynamic. The anticipated trends reflect an industry that continues to evolve while staying true to its core purpose of spreading the gospel. Whether through blending genre, collaborations, technology-driven experiences, or simple storytelling, the gospel music of 2024 is set to be a force that uplifts and unites believers worldwide. We're excited to see all that unfolds.