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Quora Answer : What new music genres will arise in the next ten years?

Jan 14, 2019

My prediction is that "hip-hop" is going to fragment into various of subgenres that don't like each other very much.

Pretty much as rock did in the post-punk 80s.

Rock as a unified thing fragmented ... into punk, metal, goth, indie, emo, grunge etc. For a while these subgenres wanted nothing to do with each other and evolved distinct cultures.

Clearly trap / "mumble rap" is hip-hop's "punk moment" : when a new bratty generation finally disrespects its elders and breaks away from the tradition. Thus precipitating the end of hip-hop as we know it.

That doesn't mean that beats, samples, rap or hip-hop attitude will disappear.

Instead, hip-hop will fragment into 10 different subgenres. And each will carry on with some variant of beats, samples, rap and attitude. But each will take it in different directions, emphasize different sounds and different aspects.

People will stop calling themselves fans of "hip-hop". They'll listen to, and say they are fans of, whatever the subgenre of choice is.

The attitudes from hip-hop will continue to be assimilated and merged within pop music.

Pop music isn't going anywhere. Pop music is much older than most people think.

The average pop music you hear in, and complain about in, the charts has roots that go back to The Andrews Sisters and Jive and Tin-Pan Alley and the earliest blues and jazz. It's anthropophagic. It consumes and absorbs everything else, forcing it to play by its (pop's) rules.

In 50 years, there'll still be something in that tradition. Women singing over swingy / funky syncopated beats while people dance. That's not going anywhere.

Artificial intelligence is coming to music production in a big way in the next decade.

Big data will be used to analyse the hits and create new ones for tomorrow that are just similar enough and just different enough to the current hits to grab maximum attention and profit.

We'll have neural network "style transfers" in audio, that will sound as if classic musicians are guesting in new music. You won't be able to tell that it's not Miles Davis jamming with, or Stevie Wonder singing on chorus of the latest tunes.

This technology won't change music. It will fix pop in its classic moments. But we'll have more scope for recombination of these elements.

Genuine innovation will come from unexpected places. From neglected odd genres, like goth, new age, black MIDI, Christian choral music, clowning YouTube virtuosos.

Despite all the usual complaints about how new music is simplistic crap, some of the new music will be shockingly complex. There's a new "maximalism" in town. A kind of "prog" pop, gleefully jumping from one style / musical reference to another.

I have a new folder in my music collection I call "cinebeat". It's a terrible name, but I think the idea is sound.

It contains stuff like this :

which is, what?, bit of Manga/JPOP, slightly "celtic" style singing, drum'n'bass, videogame music, computer jazz.

And this :

Youtube virtuoso one-man band, but of soul / gospel, sparse drumming.

And this :

Metal, digital hardcore, baroque music, opera and even slight folk influences.

Cinebeat is hugely cinematic. But manically "pop". And there'll be more of it. Pop musicians with artistic aspirations are going to throw more and more different genre ideas into the mix and come up with fascinating chimeras like the ones above. And thanks to ever more powerful technology, soon to incorporate AI, they'll be able to incorporate extremely plausible fragments of those genres.

Today's biggest influences on pop music are hip-hop and video. From video, pop music gets the cinema. And hits are mini films in their own right. From hip-hop it gets the understanding that pop is not about music or "the song" at all. Instead, the song is just a soundtrack for the artist to express and represent themselves. Or their carefully crafted "persona".

Role-play and persona is everything in pop music. And if we are honest, it takes us back to music's Dionysian roots, where it was barely distinguished from theatre.

Music has become a soundtrack to characters. And just as cinematic videos take our characters through wild changes in scenery and costume, so it will increasingly take our heroes through wild changes in background music. All genre-signifiers / soundworlds are equal game for incorporation into these soundtracks.

But those characters also live outside the music, on social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram, in celebrity gossip mags and adverts and on radio shows and in political campaigns.

So that's the prediction. We're going to hear a hell of a lot more cinebeat. Big productions combining wildly different musical genres, as soundtracks to characters.

People will complain that it's superficial and formulaic and manufactured, and it will certainly be manufactured, but when you actually stop to listen to the music carefully you'll find it packed with many different elements and ideas.

Update Jan 2021 :

Interestingly, although he's more appalled and less enthused than I am, Rick Beato of all people, sees a parallel story :

Yes. The future of music is to be "soundtrack" to the personas that the artists create. (He describes it seeking celebrity, but downplays that fact that celebrity characters are an art form in their own right.)

Nevertheless, these guys get it.

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