After lockdowns, lockdowns, and more lockdowns, a brief summer of gigs, smaller tours and festivals made live music feel exciting again in 2021.
Then, winter drew closer. And while we in the UK managed to avoid another lockdown, we didn’t get away with anything; Covid mutations and variations, it seems, are a forever kind of deal. But 2022 might be the beginning of the end for uncertainty in music – and with so much new content to look forward to, it could be one of the most exciting times in music PR.
Let’s look ahead to what’s still to come, and our predictions for music PR in 2022.
Thanks, Adele. Albums are cool again!
One day, Adele tweets: “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason. Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended. Thank you Spotify for listening.”
It reflects a bold move by the music streaming giant, in which they removed the shuffle button from Adele’s 2021 release, 30 – and all other albums subsequently lost the shuffle option.
And just like that… Albums are cool again.
A prior trend among established and breakthrough artists in the digital age was small bodies of work.
Newer acts, some of whom have been relevant for years now, are only just making albums at this point in their careers. That’s because the streaming economy has generally favoured EPs and single releases over large bodies of work. It’s not entirely clear why that is; maybe playlisting, user trends or algorithms assigning greater popularity to the songs more people have streamed – without the data, who knows.
Well, Spotify, probably.
Either way, 2022 will be a year of big albums from big acts, especially those knocked out of touring for the last couple of years.
The biggest and most anticipated upcoming releases
Hype is being seeded already for 2022’s hottest albums, and where there’s an album release, there’s a PR strategy.
We don’t know everything that’s going to drop in 2022, but in the first quarter, there’ll be some big names making waves – and love or hate them, these artists have success written all over them.
RuPaul – Mamaru
RuPaul’s Mamaru, launched early January 2022, coincides nicely with RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World – giving it a promo platform to one of the most engaged audiences you could imagine. PR-wise, it’s genius timing.
Sinéad O’Connor – No Veteran Dies Alone
She’s already appearing in the news cycle, warming us up for her latest release – her first in 8 years. The often controversial, outspoken, inimitable and profoundly talented singer is currently doing a little “image restoration” in the press in anticipation of her new album. Expect more PR campaigns and exposure up to and during the release.
Bastille – Give Me the Future
A mainstay of British music since debuting in 2010, Bastille is a festival-headlining, chart-dominating act that will no doubt receive significant airplay and advertising – but we expect to see sustained PR campaign and song placement to lead into touring and airplay throughout 2022.
Guns N’ Roses – Hard Skool
Hard Skool will be GNR’s first EP release with guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan since they rejoined the band in 2016 – and it feels like a testing ground for a new LP. We suspect a full album is likely to follow at some point, with this being a major driver behind it.
Other acts slated to release albums in 2022 are Dolly Parton, Charli XCX, Wet Leg, Machine Gun Kelly, Craig David and – one we’re particularly excited about – Swedish House Mafia. Expect to see some major stories promoting all these acts, but bear them in mind as the music news cycle moves.
Wet Leg, for example, only has a handful of singles to their name; but they’ve landed more press this year alone than any of the acts listed, and continue to blow up as a hot emerging talent.
Digital is here to stay. And that’s okay, if you know what you’re doing…
TL;DR – don’t just do a digital thing because it’s popular.
Digital marketing and PR is no longer a new PR and promotion channel. It’s changing music PR, making it easier and harder at the same time; it’s never been easier for anyone to become visible and present online, but it’s also changed the dynamic and the quality of music PR.
Digital is here to stay. But there’s a lot of “digital for digital’s sake” happening – people thinking that the format or the platform is the content; VR gigs, streamed shows, TikTok, digital stunts, YouTube Channels, and so on…
These things aren’t content. They’re delivery mechanisms.
The knowledge and strategy behind a good music PR campaign is knowing the content will resonate with the audience, and promoting it accordingly.
We hope that distinction catches on, but there’s probably, in all likelihood, much more gimmicky stuff to come.
The changing face of live music in 2022
After the pain of lockdowns, did Covid change live music for the better? Yeah, we certainly think so – especially when it comes to the appreciation of live music.
When live music returned in 2021, there was a palpable sense of hunger for it. Shows sold out so fast. The events themselves were these blossoming, bubbling pools of life that reminded us all of what we’d missed; that shared connection through the universal language of humanity.
But also, there’s something to be said for streaming live shows.
They’ve done something remarkable.
The Live Streaming Music project reports that 90% of musicians and 92% of fans agree – live streaming is a great way to reach people who can’t access live music.
For too long, live music has excluded many disabled people. Not just people with disabilities that you can see, but everyone with a disability.
Live streamed shows can put anyone in the best seat in the house; and while it’s not the same as being there, for a considerable number of people, it’s a preferred way to enjoy live music.
It does good for artists, too – providing a new avenue for income and royalties from replayed recordings, plus boosting initial ticket sales.
So, while Covid really did mess everything up for musicians in 2020 and 2021, it looks like some good did come of it for the music industry.
The best part? Everyone wins.
Urban Rebel: the high impact Music PR Agency
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