• Niall Smith

Our 2022 Music Industry Predictions

Trends we reckon will dominate the next 52 weeks.

Artwork via Yasmin Spencer.

What a weird couple of years it’s been for music. In 2020, we saw the live music market go into stasis thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and vinyl record sales increased by almost 30% during the first wave of the pandemic. Although we’ve alternated between COVID restrictions, the music biz largely clawed back a lot of what it missed in 2021. Mass gatherings, tours, and live music events almost returned to normal. Many beloved artists kept their material on ice re-emerged with new music. Of course, the pandemic wasn’t all bad. Tik Tok essentially redefined how viral songs and popular trends were adopted by mainstream audiences, enabling many independent artists to enter the spotlight.


So, what’s next?


We’re glad you asked. The Cactus City team and I have curated our boldest, weirdest and most-out-the-box predictions for the music industry in 2022:


Rihanna’s Long Overdue Return


To put things into perspective: SZA was merely a (mainstream) newcomer when Rihanna tapped her to collaborate on her track “Consideration” from her latest album to date, Anti, released back in 2016. Since then, the 33-year-old singer, businesswoman and philanthropist has been busy with her fashion and beauty endeavours with her Fenty empire.


From 2005 to 2012, we (almost) got a new Rihanna album every year, and it’s a shining example of not realising something’s value until it’s gone. After a brief cameo on PartyNextDoor’s 2020 hit “Believe It”, she’s been pretty silent since her DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller collab “Wild Thoughts”. Fans did lament a sigh of relief when the Barbadian pop singer was spotted filming a music video with rapper and boyfriend A$AP Rocky last year. Although we’re yet to see anything come to fruition, we have our fingers crossed and our crystal balls at the ready to manifest new material from Rihanna.


The Number Of Female Music Award Winners Will Increase Tenfold


This one goes without saying. Thanks to stellar records like Adele’s 30, Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever and Oliva Rodrigo’s Sour, we think 2022 will be a massive year for women in music—especially when it hits award season. Regardless of who takes home the shimmering gold statues at the Grammys, BRITs and MOBOs, we have a good feeling the women will get the acclamation they deserve.



Image via Cliff Lipson / CBS / Getty Images.

Jade Thirlwall Will Go Solo After Little Mix Split


Following Jesy Nelson’s highly-publicised departure from UK pop group Little Mix, the beloved three-piece throws in the towel and goes on hiatus after their 2022 Confetti Tour. We reckon Jade will embark on her very own solo career this year. She’s already hit the studio with producer Jax Jones for some new material.

“We wrote something really cool, so hopefully that can come out too,” said Jones regarding their studio link-up. He added: “Little Mix’s success is made up of all their individual talents, so I am sure they will all find a way to express themselves musically.”

If Jax’s statement is anything to go off, 2022 could see a lot more music from Little Mix alumni.



UK R&B Will Takeover


As we mentioned back in our BRITS article, the UK R&B scene is as strong as it’s ever been. Whether it’s mainstream acts like Jorja Smith and WSTRN or indie stars like Jaz Karis, Ojerime and Odeal—UK R&B is setting the sonic trends, not following them.


We reckon, this year, they’ll be an explosion—both commercially and artistically—in the UK R&B scene where rising stars will achieve masses of acclaim like their American siblings.


Tik Tok Will Become Essential To Music Marketing


As Tik Tok dances, trends and soundbites continue to embed themselves into pop culture, and we reckon that this year, we’ll continue to see the brand remain an industry standard. When it comes time for the next Drake album rollout, we’re his team over at OVO and Republic Records will plan out strategies for ways to make their tracks go viral on Tik Tok.


Don't believe us? Look no further than our very own Sophie Frear!


Image via Cactus City.

Did we miss any? Let us know your top music predictions for 2022!

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