Ten Music Visions for 2020

A look into the future of the Omaha and national indie music world.


Music Visions of 2020

I’ve been making music predictions for 20 years; never have I missed the boat more than last year’s.

2019 Prediction: Next year, crazed music aficionados will take it one step further as we see the first album released on reel-to-reel tape.

Reality: While online store The Tape Project does offer a handful of reissued classics on reel-to-reel, there have been no new releases.

2019 Prediction: By submitting your facial profile to Ticketmaster, getting in at a show will be as easy as looking into a camera.

Reality: While some airlines are trying facial recognition ticketing technology (Delta in Minneapolis), there’s actually been a backlash against using facial recognition at concert venues. That whole privacy bugaboo.

2019 Prediction: A savvy concert promoter will organize a new Lilith Fair next year that brings together every hot indie female-led act for a traveling tour.

Reality: The closest thing is the upcoming Alanis Morisette/Liz Phair/Garbage tour.

2019 Prediction: Now with offices in Omaha and LA, watch Saddle Creek Records open offices in New York City and reopen offices in the U.K.

Reality: Not yet.

2019 Prediction: Speaking of Saddle Creek, with the return of The Faint to the roster, expect an even more surprising new release from another of the label’s first-generation superstars.

Reality: Cursive released a new album in 2019, and Conor Oberst teamed up with Phoebe Bridgers for Better Oblivion Community Center. But neither was released on Saddle Creek.

2019 Prediction: A national publication will discover the Hi-Fi House and bring it to the attention of a worldwide audience.

Reality: The biggest news for that music project was its creator — Kate Dussault — moving to Denver, another example of the Omaha Exodus.

2019 Prediction: Watch next year as the number of GoFundMe campaigns rises, including from some very well-known artists.

Reality: I’ve seen more GFM for musicians, but not for A-listers, yet.

2019 Prediction: At least one major, respected rock artist will come out in 2019 … as a Trump supporter.

Reality: Not so much “major,” but “former” rock star Eric Carmen, lead singer of The Raspberries (“Go All the Way”) and solo artist (“Hungry Eyes,” “All By Myself”) declared his love for Trump on Twitter.

2019 Prediction: Because of the advent of streaming services, vintage (i.e., ancient) artists will enter the Billboard Hot 100.

Reality: Still waiting on this one.

2019 Prediction: A new record store will open in 2019 either downtown or in Benson.

Reality: Drastic Plastic closed its downtown location only to open a new vinyl lounge above The Monster Club in the Old Market.

2019 Prediction: A very famous candle in the wind will be extinguished in 2019.

Reality: Elton John’s Farewell Tour continues.

2019 Prediction: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: Beck, Belle & Sebastian, The Faint, Algiers, Spoon, Sufjan Stevens, The Smiths, The Rolling Stones, Bob Mould, Thick Paint, Ryan Adams, Bjork, M Ward, Iron & Wine and Bright Eyes.

Reality: Beck, The Faint, Bob Mould and Thick Paint all released new albums. The Rolling Stones had a successful tour, and Ryan Adams saw his career disintegrate after a New York Times exposé revealed him to be a womanizing creep.

2019 Prediction: Finally, one of Saddle Creek Records’ new era artists will do what no other Creek artist has been able to do: Be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live.

Reality: Who’s booking SNL’s music talent because they’re doing a shit job.

So, three for 13. Ugh. Let’s take a look at what’ll happen in 2020.

Prediction: First established in 2011, Omaha Girls Rock has touched the lives of hundreds of local girls and young women. The program teaches teamwork, self esteem and leadership, but most of all, it shows students how to play instruments, write music, sing and play in a band. Now, eight years later, the program’s impact will be seen and heard on the Omaha music stages, as former students will break through in local bands. Who will it be?

Prediction: With the over-abundance of venues and more on the way, watch this year as one or two of them (including a major stage) shut down, while cooler heads will begin to second-guess the proposed $109 million Omaha Performing Arts concert venue.

Prediction: Recognizing the devastating “brain drain” of talent that’s left Omaha over the past couple years, either a new nonprofit will form — or an existing organization will step up — with the mission of financially subsidizing local musicians and their projects. The program will be among the first of its kind in the country and will succeed in attracting new talent to a city woefully in need of it.

Prediction: There will be more new releases available via cassette tape than any time since the heyday of cassettes as a format. Sub Pop, Saddle Creek, Matador all will be among the labels offering new cassette releases. But, unlike vinyl, the boom in cassette tapes will be short-lived as labels discover that the novelty just doesn’t sell. PS: CDs will continue to go the way of the dinosaur (because only dinosaur music fans will be buying them).

Prediction: Watch for a major concert to be organized in conjunction with the coming election in an effort to bring out the vote in Nebraska’s 2nd District. The Blue Dot could play an important role in keeping Trump out of office, and Conor and his pals will do whatever they can to help.

Prediction: After last year’s success, the Maha Music Festival will capture even bigger sponsorship dollars, but it still won’t be enough to capture a Lizzo-sized headliner. Instead, the money will go to more high-end bands across both festival nights and better customer service.

Prediction: The trend of booking fewer touring indie bands at Omaha venues will continue. We’ll be lucky to get one A-list indie show per month, while stale pop projects, cover/tribute bands and other entertainment (wrestling, trivia nights) will dominate local club stages. When will some young lad (or old rich person) step up and start promoting shows like in the old days? Maybe in 2020.

Prediction: We’ll all be singing “Deacon Blues” in 2020.

Prediction: Bands we’ll be talking about next year: Algiers, Bright Eyes, Criteria, Pavement, Closeness, Beach House, The xx, Slowdive, St. Vincent, Perfume Genius, The War on Drugs, King Krule, Kendrick Lamar, Talking Heads and David Nance Band.

Prediction: This is it: This is the year that Conor Oberst finally walks across the stage at Saturday Night Live. I’m counting on you, Conor.

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com.


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