With 2021 nearly behind us, and 2022 fast approaching, it is that of year for the MIDiA predictions report. We have been publishing our predictions reports since 2016, and apart from being good fun to do, we have also established a pretty good track record of success. We had an 84% success rate for our 2021 report, and Facebook’s transformation into Meta certainly played to the report’s title: The year of the immersive web. The full 29-page report is available exclusively to MIDiA clients here. But, as with every year, here are a few of the top-level highlights to help you get your head around what 2022 might bring with it.
In addition to sets of predictions for music, video, games and sport, the report lays out the ten meta and cultural trends that will shape 2022.
I am going to dive into two of those here.
The year of the creator
2021 was a big year for content creators, fuelled by the growing accessibility of high-quality production tools and the fragmentation of consumption. 2022 will be bigger still. From social video, through to game streamers and independent artists, 2022 will be the year of the creator. But there will also be a growing need for a duty of care from platforms to their creators. Platform business models function by accumulating income from a large number of smaller contributing parts, which, in turn, contribute little individually, but form a majority as a whole. Creator platforms (from Splice, to YouTube and TikTok) are no different. The consequence is that creator platforms can prosper even when the majority of their contributors do not. Of course, the majority of creators will never be big, but the essence of the new creator economy is that success no longer has a fixed definition. The onus on creator platforms is to set realistic creator expectations – not to oversell a dream, but instead to enable each creator to fulfil their potential, whatever that might be. Creator platforms need to think of their creators not as wheat to be harvested, but as flowers to be nurtured.
Prior to the digital era, content could only be consumed passively in a one-way stream from distributor, through a designated channel, to a listener, viewer or player consuming on their own in a limited number of contexts. This one-way style is ‘lean-back’. Digital has prompted ‘lean-in’ behaviour, where consumers can engage with content by multitasking – socialising with friends online, researching the franchise, or following on other forms of the same IP. Now, creator tools are prompting a third method: ‘lean-out’. Consumers are now empowered to take that content of which they are fans and own it in new ways outside of immediate consumption, be that writing a fan musical on TikTok (e.g., Bridgerton), joining Discord servers, sampling for their own tracks, participating in a debate online (e.g., ‘did Karol Baskin kill her husband?’), playing chess (e.g., The Queen’s Gambit), or simply making and sharing memes. In 2022, this lean-out form of consumption will become a distinguisher between content that is simply good, and that which becomes culturally important.
As a reminder, the full report is available here.