Human touch is still vital for 2014 music
Twenty fourteen. 2014. We are in the future, one that is 13 years after the year that gives the title to the Stanley Kubrick film.
The future doesn't work the way it's imagined in the movies: the world doesn't get turned into a wasteland so easily, global political systems don't get radically uprooted that quickly despite Russell Brand statements, and the apex of artificial intelligence is a female voice called Siri who can't pronounce your name properly.
No, the future happens in baby steps. Things evolve slowly. That's why the same predictions for the last year are still relevant today. To misquote U2, "she moves in lumbering ways".
In regard to the musical entertainment that you will consume this year, Spotify and Deezer are still vouching for mainstreamers' credit card details but they will be joined by challengers old and new.
As the biggest music discovery platform in the world already, YouTube is apparently launching a paid music subscription service this year while Jimmy Iovine, Trent Reznor and Dr Dre have a hand in Beats Music, a new platform due to launch this month and reports about it suggest that the service is addressing what other platforms lack -- human curation.
I've run a music blog for eight years now, where curation is at the centre of everything I do and last month's best of 2013 lists were an opportunity to package up my musical year for readers in Spotify, SoundCloud and YouTube playlists that make it easy for people to discover something new.
Boasting that you've millions of songs on your platform is all well and good, but you still need people to point you to what to listen to, which Beats Music is addressing via celebrity-driven marketing and a bucketload of music industry cash.
However, it is unlikely to gain a foothold by this time next year. As I said, baby steps. Elsewhere, all we can hope for is that twerking loses its viral novelty, that Robin Thicke quits being a idiot by just disappearing from the charts, that Thom Yorke stops sounding like a grumpy old man and that Miley's tongue gets stuck to a pole in the cold weather permanently.
One more thing to look forward to? We're still one whole year off the 2015 depicted in Back To The Future so the imminent announcement of the hoverboard is expected some time this year.
NEW ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Mullingar has been the hometown of Joe Dolan, Niall from One Direction and The Blizzards. 2014 might just be the year the Westmeath town adds another act to its musical legacy.
The Academic are only young lads but their radio-friendly melodic pop/rock tunes, best represented by debut single Bear Claw, have caught the ear of many a UK A&R rep already.
So much so, that when they played a pub gig at the Other Voices Music Trail in Dingle in December, there were 17 reps who flew over to the remote Kerry town just to see them. Mostly like to do a Strypes in 2014.
Now, at least that's a realistic expectation...