14 Reasons the Entertainment Industry Will Look Different in 2021 - Rolling Stone
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14 Reasons the Entertainment Industry Will Look Different in 2021

Everything from live music, to museums, to gaming will have to adapt to the changing times, according to these 14 business leaders.

Photos courtesy of the members.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

As culture changes, so does the way we consume it. The way we entertain ourselves with movies and television, art exhibits, games, music and live shows is a reflection of our needs, wants and traditions — our culture. It makes sense then that the unforeseen changes we’ve experienced this last year would affect the way we spend our free time.

In order to lend some insight into this collective shift, 14 members of Rolling Stone Culture Council share the factors they believe will contribute to a new direction for the media and entertainment industry in 2021 and beyond.

Changing Media Consumption Habits

The appetite for different forms of media (games, movies, TV, music, etc.) won’t change, but the way in which they are consumed will evolve at an even more rapid pace. Now is the time to build flexibility into your models to prepare for the shifts in distribution models, workflows, monetization and more. – James Simpson, GoldFire Studios

A Shift Toward ‘Staycation’ Packages

People have shifted their content consumption during Covid to be all digital and virtual viewing. With travel no longer an option for many people due to safety and financial concerns, I think there is an opportunity to provide alternatives with staycation-type packages. This can be in the form of interactive virtual events in foreign cities, a virtual concert series, an interactive online movie or packaged offerings sent directly to your home. – Chaya Rosenthal, Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

Gaming Becoming a Major Entertainment Source

Gaming is the new entertainment. It’s more than a sport it’s the NFL of the future. Leaders need to prepare to understand gaming culture, the memes and the dreams and fears of the community. It’s a world where authenticity is key, but so is honesty. – Justin Warden, Ader, Inc.

A Merging of Digital and Physical Worlds

Since it will likely be a very long time until there are massive public events, 2021 will see a lot of innovation in merging digital and physical worlds. We’ve seen this in 2020, but many of the events haven’t been executed very well as it’s a new world and hard to tackle. Leaders can prepare for this just by thinking of how they can improve their experience when it can’t be shown in real life. – Bridget Hilton, LSTN Sound Co.

A Greater Sense of Creator Control

We will continue to see a huge shift toward artist and creator control. For the last six months, creators have had a direct connection to fans via social media and other online platforms. When live events open up, we will see more artists wanting to stay in the driver’s seat. – Kim Kaupe, The Superfan Company

A Preference for Smaller, More Intimate Events

Already the nightlife and events space was polarizing into either more intimate, smaller venues or massive festivals (or even dinner parties versus restaurants). Mega-clubs were already becoming less trendy before 2020 hit. This trend will now be accelerated, with people seeking to attend more intimate events and venues with smaller groups of people. This forces people to evaluate who they want in their social circle. Large-scale festivals will take a long time to come back. – Gideon Kimbrell, InList

An Increasing Need for Digital-First Solutions

Covid-19 has changed the way we engage in cultural events, and digital may be the solution to keep us all connected. That is why in 2021 the need for a digital-first strategy will be more important than ever. Being digital first means considering the needs of the user within the context of digital for any project in a meaningful way. Interaction has changed, and cultural organizations should have a digital-first solution to keep us all connected as consumers whether it is driven by objects or experiences. – Ashley Deese, Smithsonian Institution

More Opportunities for Advertising

The increase in hours spent consuming entertainment content will create more and more opportunities for new ventures in the advertising-based video on demand space. Subscription video on demand will begin to shrink as the saturation of subscriptions occurs. – Ra Kumar, United Talent Agency

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The Need for a Profitable Live Music Platform

I think we will see viral shows being done the right way. 2020 has brought a plethora of options for bringing live music directly to fans, but at the moment, there have been more misses than hits. I think we’ll see a format that will not only be profitable for the artists, but will also be fulfilling for fans. – Anthony Langone, Marbaloo Marketing

A Move Toward New Forms of Interaction

Creators and consumers of culture and entertainment will naturally gravitate to new forms of interaction as established distribution fails to meet their needs. We’ve seen the beginnings of this trend in 2020 and I expect there are more changes ahead. – Enno Vandermeer, Roon Labs

The Rise of Independent, Creator-Based Exhibition Content

The incumbents in the culture space, particularly museums, need to be careful with what will happen now that they are laying off large parts of their teams in charge of public engagement. Many institutions have only kept on staff who are engaged with wealthy donors rather than those who educate audiences. Actions speak louder than words, and these decisions are a mission statement. This means that the innovative, captivating and inspiring exhibition content in 2021 and beyond will not be coming from museums, but rather from those who have been released from these institutions and are now free to create on their own, with new rules and an understanding of the importance of technology. – Bernadine Brocker Wieder, Vastari

New Monetization Pathways for Creators

Creators in the culture space will continue to collaborate across different sectors and they’ll begin to monetize in new ways. More and more of the value they create will go directly to them and have positive impacts for decades to come. – Marcus Cobb, Jammber, Inc.

Gaming and Streaming Driving Popular Culture

Gamer and streamer culture will take a foothold in driving popular culture. Personalities and preferences originating from these spheres will drive commercial consumption across a variety of categories, from consumer packaged goods to apparel and entertainment. – Ben Kusin, VENN

A Need for More Sustainable Production and Distribution Models

Covid and the cultural uprising have already upended the cultural space for years to come. These events have been a bold reminder that we need to further challenge our existing power structures for how we create sustainable models of production and distribution for independent films, games and immersive work, as well as be nimble to the times to find creative solutions. – Vassiliki Khonsari, iNK Stories

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