What Will Tomorrow’s Music Sound Like? Today’s Top Producers Speak.

People are always asking me where music is headed. My answer is always the same: “I can give you a reasonably good 6-12 month forecast, but beyond that, I haven’t a clue. I am worried, however, about the declining influence of rock on the overall culture. We need something to jerk it back to life.”

SPIN put the question to some of the industry’s top producers. Maybe they have a better idea.

Nobody decides the sounds of the future quite like the producers and songwriters of the present. We saw the standard for present-day pop set last year with the synths and production depth of Taylor Swift’s 1989, which used a dream-team of producers and writers (Max Martin, Ryan Tedder, Shellback) to blend familiar sounds and emotional beats with modern-day lyrics and studio advancements. It captured the world’s imagination with a very 2015 blending of nostalgia and current innovation — throwback pop no longer has to sound plainly “retro”; even the past can pick up future sheen.

In thinking of Top 40 as a composite, SPIN interviewed a slew of today’s biggest and best hitmakers over email — Diplo, Stargate, Benny Blanco, Ester Dean, Tedder, and more — about their predictions for which pop music of the present will last and which’ll fall by the wayside.

For the next week, SPIN will be venturing into the great unknown to attempt to answer some questions (or at least hazard some guesses) about the future of music. Join us as we look at what the world of music — the sound, the technology, the business models — may look like ten, 20, even 30 years down the road.

What do you think popular music might sound like in a decade?

Tor Erik Hermansen (Writer/Producer, Stargate: Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It”): I think electronic music, in all its different forms, is here to stay. I think (and hope) that melodies and lyrics will still rule over sound and gimmicks.

Danja (Producer: Britney Spears’ “Gimme More”; Writer/Producer: M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls”): It’s hard to say. I pay a lot of attention to the trends in music. I see a lot of ’80s and ’90s influences now. If I had to guess, I would say ten years from now, people are going to be pulling from whatever was hot in the first decade of the 2000s. It seems we draw inspiration from 20 to 30 years back. I would love to see rock music come back into mainstream. I feel like we’re unbalanced because there’s a missing genre.

Keep going.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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