What are the new music trends in 2023?

Check out current trends in the music business, music writing, music consumption, and more.

Music trends

What are the current music trends in 2023? What’s the latest genre to break through and capture people’s imagination? And what the heck is synthwave? Let’s dig into all of that today.

Whether you’re a professional freelancer or an established enterprise, you’ll need to stay on top of the latest music trends. After all, so many breakout YouTube hits and hot TikTok trends are inspired by music. Remember the man skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac? He’s now a full-time content creator.

So, let’s look at the key music trends that you’d be wise to follow in 2023.

We’ll cover:

  1. Sped-up music is taking over
  2. TikTok will keep making new breakout stars
  3. Synthwave takes viewers back to the future
  4. The rise of micro-genres
  5. Classical music is cutting-edge
  6. Why is music so short nowadays?
  7. Sync opportunities will keep earning for legacy acts

Trend 1: Sped-up music is taking over

Sped-up music has become a huge TikTok trend of late, prompting artists to re-issue their material at a higher tempo. These newer, slightly hyper versions have racked up millions of views on TikTok, and are here to stay.

The trend has extended to visual content, too. Loads of creators are speeding up video to match the high-octane pace of their music — it works a treat for short, personal videos as much as it does with social media ads. Why not give it a try with our Sped Up playlist?

Trend 2: TikTok will keep making new breakout stars

Sped-up tracks aren’t the only current music trend on TikTok. Waves of seemingly random artists get massive on the platform — everyone from Lil Nas X to the Satanic rock band Ghost has received a healthy boost from the platform.

There’s no guessing which tracks will pop off on TikTok, so why not look for a little inspiration? Search for ‘TikTok’ in Epidemic Sound’s player and thank us later.  

Trend 3: Synthwave takes viewers back to the future

One sub-genre in particular has been hogging the limelight recently: synthwave. Rooted around the spooky, upbeat movie soundtracks of legends like John Carpenter, the genre has grown from internet message-boards and metal crossovers to soundtracking the movie Drive and, over the past few years, Stranger Things.

Eager to get in on the action and use some synthwave in your content? Try out Rasure, Ben Elson, or Oh the City — they all deal exclusively in bangers of the highest order. 

Trend 4: The rise of micro-genres

Synthwave is its own ‘thing,’ but there’s still room for other hyper-specific styles to break through. In fact, we’ve noticed an uptick in micro-genres during 2022 and 2023. Interested? Grab a pen and paper, make yourself comfortable, and suspend your disbelief.

Drift phonk

Nope, it’s not a new species of bird — it’s a blend of trap, hip-hop, and vaporwave! Popularized in Russia in the late 2010s, drift phonk’s high-tempo beats have proven popular over the past few years in online car culture. Listen to Azucares’ The Bait to get an idea of what we mean. 

Azucares – The Bait


This sub-genre also popped up in the 2010s, coming from South Africa and mixing lounge, jazz, and deep house. Dive into some amapiano with Xack’s Almost.

Xack – Almost


Hope you packed your jacket, because it’s raining tears. Slowcore blossomed in the United States back in the ‘90s, taking the template of alternative rock, halting the tempo, and making everything that little bit sadder. Get the tissues out and listen to Tellsonic’s Rain in San Francisco.

Tellsonic – Rain in San Francisco


This bass-heavy, snappy snare sub-genre of dance may have originated in the 1980s, but it’s still alive and kicking. Check out Heyson’s Whistle With Me for proof that Eurodance in the 21st century is more than Scooter shouting about fish. 

Heyson – Whistle With Me

Trend 5: Classical music is cutting-edge

Sure, nobody's queuing for Debussy or Mozart meet-and-greets these days, but classical music's power endures. In fact, it's one of the world's fastest-growing genres in terms of usage — we even did the research to back it up.

The amount of classical music used in YouTube videos is up 90% year-over-year. Content creators are harking back to the primal, dramatic emotions found in notes and melodies from centuries ago.

Interested? Dive into our Classical genre page here, Or, if you prefer something more visual, check out our Epidemic Classical YouTube channel. Or, if you’re strapped for time, get a taste of our cinematic music with Christoffer Moe Ditlevsen.

Whether you’re soundtracking a spec ad, plotting the music for a multichannel campaign, or just want to make your vlogs more epic, we’ve got you covered. 

Trend 6: Why is music so short nowadays?

You might have noticed that, over the last decade or so, pop songs have gotten shorter. They sprint to the chorus quicker, trimming any excess sections. This is likely down to the way digital service providers (DSPs) pay artists.

Payouts are determined by the number of times people listen to 30 seconds or more of a track, regardless of length. So, one million streams of a two-minute track will bag the same amount of cash as a million streams for some twelve-minute odyssey. More tracks, shorter in length, means more listening time and more money for artists.

Classical music trends

Epidemic Sound goes the extra mile to guarantee our artists are paid fairly. After all, we wouldn’t exist without them! We pay our artists and music creators competitive, upfront rates to acquire ownership of all the music in our catalog. All streaming revenue is split 50/50, and they can top up earnings via our annual, $2.5 million Soundtrack Bonus pool. It’s pretty sweet.

Trend 7: Sync opportunities will keep earning for legacy acts

One of the most notable music syncs in recent memory is Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill being used in Stranger Things. In 2023, Depeche Mode scored a couple of golden sync opportunities, appearing in the surprise hit Cocaine Bear and HBO’s The Last Of Us. a-ha’s classic single, Take On Me, also featured in the latter TV show.

These artists were iconic to fans who were around at the time, and sizable sync deals ensure that new listeners will fall in love with the work. Expect major studios to keep banking on soundtracks from classic eighties acts.

But not everyone can afford to license the biggest of the big. Want to use AC/DC’s Thunderstruck? It’ll set you back $500,000.

Music trends

You don’t need a famous chorus or riff to nail the soundtrack, though. More often than not, the latest music trends now revolve around a specific genre or vibe, rather than one song. 

Find the perfect soundtrack for every music trend with Epidemic Sound. We’re packing more than 40,000 tracks, with everything from polka and heavy metal to bossa nova and trap.

If your business is looking to take its content to the next level with customized music, why not contact our Enterprise team? They’ll be able to guide you through the latest music trends, create bespoke playlists, and help you get the most out of your subscription.

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Our catalog is high-quality, affordable, and safe. An Epidemic Sound subscription goes beyond royalty-free music, removing the headache of licensing and freeing you up to do what you do best. You can enjoy the safety of our license hand-in-hand with our massive catalog of 40,000 tracks, covering just about every genre you can think of. You’ll also gain unlimited access to our advanced search functions — finding the right sound’s never been easier. 

It’s better than royalty-free. It’s worry-free. Get started with Epidemic Sound below.

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