I think there will be an explosion of genre blending and experimentation of music with diverse influences because of how easy it is to learn about different music with the Internet. If you look at the kind of music that young music fans are listening to and discussing on forums, it’s everything from punk rock to free jazz to 20th century avant-garde music to hip-hop/R&B and more. It feels like there is almost an obsession with having as diverse a taste as possible, whereas in an era like the 90’s, if you were a serious music fan who was deep into music, you were more likely to be an aficionado of one particular genre. I just feel when a subset of these music fans begin forming bands or producing music in the next few years, the post-internet melting pot of influences will lead to some interesting results and hopefully some fresh sounds will emerge.
As “internet culture” and “real life” continue to merge and become one, I believe that what becomes popular in the former will achieve “real” popularity in the latter, although not necessarily vice versa. We’re seeing this already, but as we transfer more of our interactions and consumption toward the world of the Internet, that interaction and consumption will have more of an impact on life when we step outside. It’s why we have “The Emoji Movie” on the one hand and corporate Twitter memes on the other.
Now, where does that lead music? Well, perhaps not in 10 years, but eventually what is hot will fall out of style. All art is cyclical, with one movement basically being a reaction/progression toward the previous movement, sometimes going back and forth for a while between extremes. Right now, the big thing is hip-hop in general, specifically an emphasis on the more trap-style hip-hop that’s been bubbling up in Atlanta, Houston, and Chicago for a while. Eventually, a new generation of even more internet savvy teens will come along and set a new trend. Perhaps it will stay within the realm of hip-hop, reacting to the “mumble rap” (a term I loathe) of Lil Yachty, Future, and Lil Pump the same way that “Internet Rap” was initially a satirical progression on the maligned “Bling era” of hip-hop. As the new becomes the old, and the Internet become “real life,” something will surely replace today’s hottest sounds, and it will probably start out with some kid posting their shit on YouTube or SoundCloud (assuming SoundCloud sticks around). Whatever it is, it’ll have to be poppy, catchy, simple, and accessible, and people will definitely hate it.
In short, it depends on the whims of kids on the internet who’ve probably just been born or are currently in primary school. Maybe they’ll grow up in this world where new pop songs are busy, synthetic, electronic, and hip-hop-inspired (often just straight-up hip-hop) and grow to love these sounds as well, popularising their peers who do a similar thing. Or, maybe they’ll lash out against the established sound in favour of something more democratic, but still hooky enough to demand radio attention. The line blurs more and more every year.
Alternatively, in the future (assuming we make it that far) we live in an agrarian utopia so it would conceivably all be folk music except no one really has personal problems to sing about anymore so it’ll be entirely techno and new-sincerity Vaporwave…