In the age of awesome, how do you predict what’s coming in 2017? Well, here goes
We can confidently say that that the gig of the year will not be Phil Collins at the Aviva, but that's where the certainty ends...
Ed Sheeran: Could this be his year? Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images
Predictions are a dirty job but someone has to do it. So do you want a prediction for gig of the year? There’s danger here because we live in the age of awesome, when every show which happens on a stage anywhere is a candidate for the best gig ever, never mind in any calendar year. But we’re up for the task.
You can confidently say that the gig of the year will not be Phil Collins at the Aviva Stadium, though it may well be the gig of the year for the balance sheets of Irish radio stations, given the ads which will be required to shift tickets. You can also rule out the sold-out Guns N’ Roses shebang at Slane for this honour.
Rather, the gig of the year may well occur when Andy Irvine and Paul Brady hit the highways and byways in May to mark the 40th anniversary of their seminal, collaborative album. The omens are already mighty for this meeting of the old rogues.
That’s the easy bit. It requires a far different kind of cunning and expertise to make other predictions. When it comes to the new act who will be the sound of 2017, I would actually advise waiting until the year is well under way before addressing that one.
The runners and riders currently limbering up for that steeplechase come with assorted random record-label and promotional handicaps, so the going is tough to skewered. It’s always worth remembering at this juncture that Ed Sheeran, the dude who may well own 2017 with his new album, was an unknown unknown in most tipsters’ eyes before he upset the formbook.
It might be easier to make predictions around more macro issues. For instance, surely the Trump, Brexit and other political uprisings and upsets of the past year will stir artists to be more political in their outlook and output?
Many artists have been happy to snark about streaming royalties and ticket touts, but what about the issues affecting the world at large? It will be interesting to see which side many artists are on when it comes to this particular dogfight and if the fear of alienating fanbases causes some to pause.
Last year many artists such as Frank Ocean and Beyoncé flexed their independence by heading to the likes of Apple Music and Tidal to debut new music and collect a large cheque. Such moves naturally caused consternation for the record labels that developed these acts and let them avail of their infrastructural muscle to build an audience in the first place.
Perhaps 2017 will see some acts seeing if they can apply the same logic to the live-performance side. Promoters and venue owners may groan at this, given how they feel they’ve been squeezed for every euro or pound or dollar, but you can be sure some artists will be wondering if they can make more money with fewer middlemen.
That so many acts are already caught up in the Live Nation Venn diagram could make this an interesting proposition if it comes to pass.
One other safe prediction is that the ticket-touting issue will continue to be a bone of contention for many fans. While only a small number of shows attract this kind of ire and only a tiny percentage of tickets actually end up getting touted, it’s still an issue with huge ramifications.
Staying with live music, it may also be the year when VR and AR take a chunk of change, though we think the tech, like a lot of music tech plays, requires further fine-tuning. Another interesting year awaits.