Is Old Music Killing New Music? | History News Network

  

Category:  Entertainment

Via:  john-russell  •  5 months ago  •  44 comments

By:   myHNN

Is Old Music Killing New Music? |   History News Network
The growth in sales in music is coming overwhelmingly from old songs. Can the music industry sustain new performers if money keeps flowing to old catalogues? 

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T





Ted Gioia writes the music and popular-culture newsletter The Honest Brokeron Substack. He is also the author of 11 books, including, most recently, Music: A Subversive History.

Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market, according to the latest numbers from MRC Data, a music-analytics firm. Those who make a living from new music—especially that endangered species known as the working musician—should look at these figures with fear and trembling. But the news gets worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking. All the growth in the market is coming from old songs.

The 200 most popular new tracks now regularly account for less than 5 percent of total streams. That rate was twice as high just three years ago. The mix of songs actually purchased by consumers is even more tilted toward older music. The current list of most-downloaded tracks on iTunes is filled with the names of bands from the previous century, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Police.

I encountered this phenomenon myself recently at a retail store, where the youngster at the cash register was singing along with Sting on "Message in a Bottle" (a hit from 1979) as it blasted on the radio. A few days earlier, I had a similar experience at a local diner, where the entire staff was under 30 but every song was more than 40 years old. I asked my server: "Why are you playing this old music?" She looked at me in surprise before answering: "Oh, I like these songs."

A series of unfortunate events are conspiring to marginalize new music. The pandemic is one of these ugly facts, but hardly the only contributor to the growing crisis.

Consider these other trends:

  • The leading area of investment in the music business is old songs. Investment firms are getting into bidding wars to buy publishing catalogs from aging rock and pop stars.
  • The song catalogs in most demand are by musicians who are in their 70s or 80s (Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen) or already dead (David Bowie, James Brown).
  • Even major record labels are participating in the rush to old music: Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, and others are buying up publishing catalogs and investing huge sums in old tunes. In a previous time, that money would have been used to launch new artists.
  • The best-selling physical format in music is the vinyl LP, which is more than 70 years old. I've seen no signs that the record labels are investing in a newer, better alternative—because, here too, old is viewed as superior to new.


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JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JohnRussell    5 months ago

I cant really speak to hard rock, but in "pop" music the old music is definitely better.  With the advent of the of machines that would provide the beat,  pop music became totally driven by the rhythm, instead of the way it used to be when the melody was dominant. People remember melodies 3 or 4 or 5 decades later, not the beat. Melody is why there are still performers making a living singing songs from the 1930's , 40's, and 50's.  Eighty years from now no one will remember the songs from 2020 let alone be listening to them. 

WOULDNT IT BE NICE - The Beach Boys

ROCK THE BOAT - The Hues Corporation

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
2  Greg Jones    5 months ago

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
3  Greg Jones    5 months ago

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.1  Gordy327  replied to  Greg Jones @3    5 months ago

Here is a good cover to that song. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
4  Greg Jones    5 months ago

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
5  Buzz of the Orient    5 months ago

Maybe the old songs are better, more pleasant lyrics, nicer melodies.  The ear-jarring noise of heavy metal, the garbage of rap, sent me back to the old songs. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
6  Greg Jones    5 months ago

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
7  Greg Jones    5 months ago

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
8  Greg Jones    5 months ago

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
9  Greg Jones    5 months ago

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
10  Greg Jones    5 months ago

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
11  Greg Jones    5 months ago

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
12  Perrie Halpern R.A.    5 months ago

I'm trying to get my hubby to write a response to this article. He spent over 30 years in the music industry and could share some insight into this ass-backward article.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
12.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @12    5 months ago

gee thanks

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
12.1.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  JohnRussell @12.1    5 months ago

Why are you taking that personally? Did you write it or are you here to debate it?

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
13  Gsquared    5 months ago

The solution -- Write better songs.

Although, I have to say that there is always great new music.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
14  Ender    5 months ago

I know this will piss some people off but, I think Taylor Swift sucks. Never liked her music.

I also think Beyoncé is overrated. Never cared for her music.

Can't really think of any 'new' music I like. Well, enough to buy anyway.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
14.2  Sparty On  replied to  Ender @14    5 months ago

Wow, we agree on something, Taylor Swift anyways.    Better get prepared for the end .... and I don’t mean the the Doors song ....

The music from the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s is hard to beat as decades go.    The fantastic music from all genres then was very excellent collectively.    Even some of the disco was good and that’s hard for a rock and roller to say.

Still, I like some of the newer stuff, it’s just nowhere as expansively good like those earlier decades.

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
14.2.1  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Sparty On @14.2    5 months ago

wait until WAP is referred to and considered a "moldie oldie "......

 
 
 
charger 383
Professor Quiet
14.3  charger 383  replied to  Ender @14    5 months ago

I agree

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
15  Gsquared    5 months ago

Some of the newer (within the last 10 years) music that I like a lot:

Anything by Jon Batiste.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YHVC1DcHmo 

There are plenty more.  

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
16  mocowgirl    5 months ago

Some of the new music has over 1 billion views on youtube.

I have been amused at how many comments I read on many of the goldie oldies from people who grew up listening to the songs with parents.  Many comments seem to be from people who still listen to these songs as a bridge to the memory of their parent(s) who have passed on.

In researching how many views that "House of the Rising Sun" had on youtube, I found a video with The Voice auditions from around the globe.  So it seems that the oldies are not popular just in the United States.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
16.1  Gordy327  replied to  mocowgirl @16    5 months ago

Nope, I don't like that cover. It doesn't hold a candle to the original.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
16.1.1  Gsquared  replied to  Gordy327 @16.1    5 months ago

The oldest known recording of "House of The Rising Sun" is from 1933, so if you are referring to the Animals' version, it was not the "original" although it is the best known.  This version is amazing.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
16.1.2  Gordy327  replied to  Gsquared @16.1.1    5 months ago

I didn't know it went back to 1933. I like the Animals version

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
16.1.3  Gsquared  replied to  Gordy327 @16.1.2    5 months ago

I like the Animals version, too.  It's great.  But, the history is very interesting.

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
16.1.4  mocowgirl  replied to  Gordy327 @16.1    5 months ago
Nope, I don't like that cover. It doesn't hold a candle to the original.

I agree.  I was just surprised at how popular it was as an audition song for The Voice show in other countries.

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
17  Mark in Wyoming     5 months ago

i think much of it has to do with the memories associated with the songs .

 I can remember who i was with and what we were doing whenever i hear the Commodores' 3 times a lady , or whams careless whisper ... or bay city rollers, saturday night .

 
 
 
mocowgirl
Professor Quiet
17.1  mocowgirl  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @17    5 months ago
i think much of it has to do with the memories associated with the songs .

We seem to be programmed to like "new" with a heavy dose of the familiar.

 
 
 
Freefaller
Professor Participates
17.2  Freefaller  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @17    5 months ago
or bay city rollers, saturday night

Lol for decades I have worked very hard to purge that song/group from my memory, thanks for bringing it up

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
17.2.1  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Freefaller @17.2    5 months ago

ear worm?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
18  TᵢG    5 months ago

Ian Anderson ... an underappreciated talent.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
18.1  TᵢG  replied to  TᵢG @18    5 months ago

Check out the flute work in the middle.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Quiet
18.1.1  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @18.1    5 months ago

I don't know why, but "check out the flute work in the middle" made me chuckle. Tull...one of the good ones. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
18.1.2  TᵢG  replied to  Transyferous Rex @18.1.1    5 months ago

With Ian Anderson one never knows ...

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
18.1.3  Gsquared  replied to  TᵢG @18.1    5 months ago

I went to a Jethro Tull concert in 1970 (?).  It was an outdoor concert on a very warm day.  They kept the audience waiting at least 1 - 1 1/2 hours past the start time, performed 3 songs and left.  VERY disappointing.  Probably the only concert I've ever been to that was maybe worse was a Stephen Stills concert where he was so drunk he could hardly stand up.  Years later he apologized to the audience for that concert.  You don't always get what you pay for.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
18.1.4  TᵢG  replied to  Gsquared @18.1.3    5 months ago

Bummer.   No doubt that is an experience Ian was sure to correct going forward.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Senior Expert
18.1.5  Gsquared  replied to  TᵢG @18.1.4    5 months ago

I like Jethro Tull's records, but that was a big turn off.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Quiet
18.1.6  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @18.1.2    5 months ago

That music hits you. The performance? I'm biased, admittedly, but I wouldn't be surprised, or I am not surprised, that the older stuff, whatever genre, is experiencing good sales. For my part, Ian's performance there is an example of the heart and soul being put into the work, resulting in a better product.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
18.1.7  TᵢG  replied to  Transyferous Rex @18.1.6    5 months ago

Saw Ian Anderson a couple of years ago.   Great performance.   Very professional.   Ian has calmed down a bit in his later years but is still full of energy and wit.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Quiet
18.1.8  Transyferous Rex  replied to  TᵢG @18.1.7    5 months ago

Very cool. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
19  seeder  JohnRussell    5 months ago

"New" music I have liked a lot

NORAH JONES -  Chasing Pirates

ADELE - Chasing Pavements

MEGHAN TRAINOR - Dear Future Husband

COLDPLAY - Viva La Vida

SANTANA W/ MICHELLE BRANCH  -  Game Of Love

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Quiet
20  Transyferous Rex    5 months ago

I've always had a love for music, all genres. Personally, I'm not inspired by much of the new offerings. Not to say that there aren't good offerings out there, but not much grabs me. We had this debate in my house a while back. I think this mumble rap phenomenon is garbage, and taking away from the artistry that rap used to be. How can you beat the following:

Up up and away, its the Super Soul Sis, I talked so much shit, I got, halitosis...

Maybe not the best example, but I still love that line. Who are the super bowl half time performers? Snoop and Dr. Dre, among others. Ice Cube, Snoop, Dre, and many others...IMO there is no comparison between the creativity of that era and now. Again, there is some good music being produced that stands out, but much of it sounds the same, with some "ya's" thrown in here and there. To me, the depth of some of the older stuff keeps people coming back, and younger generations appreciate that.

Same for rock, country, and the rest. You don't have to be high to enjoy Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. 1984? Abby Road? Albums. We don't really get that experience anymore. Music on demand, playlists, etc. break that up obviously, and I think are encouraging artists to shove out contemporary music like memes. 

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
21  Jeremy Retired in NC    5 months ago

I think this has to do with the memories associated with the older music but, at least for me, it's the quality of the music.  The older musicians had to work to get the recognition. There was no YouTube or shoddy shows like "American Idol" and "(enter country here)'s Got Talent".  They had to write their own music and lyrics.  There is an element in those songs that are just missing from newer music. 

There is a video out where musicians like Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Kid Rock, Cory Tayler (Slipknot), et al state that shows like American Idol and America's Got Talent are destroying the music industry .

These artists had to actually know how to sing and play their instruments. Auto tune and drum triggers didn't exist.  They were laughed off stage for lip syncing or playing to a back up track (Remember Milli Vanilli?)

When it comes to their concert tours, they aren't what everybody seems to think.  After meeting several musicians, and listening to their stories about being on the road Five Finger Death Punch summed it up pretty well in their song "Sham Pain"

I barely get to eat, and when I finally get to sleep

I get drug out of bed for another meet-and-greet

I shake the hand of every fan, put on a happy face

Spread so fucking think, I'm all over the place.

I hate riding on the bus, I hate flying in the planes

Sedate myself just to kill the pain.

I have no fife, forgot the hope

The whole thing's turned into one big joke.
 
 

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