Old Music Outselling New Music For First Time in History
Posted on: 01/25/2016 08:27 PM

by John Young


According to a recent article in Chart Attack, older albums (defined as albums released more than 18 months ago) have outsold newly released albums for the first time in history.

At a certain mathematical level, this is not surprising. Given that albums covered by copyright stretch all the way back to the 1920's, and that a lot of music is rather timeless, it makes sense that at some point a critical mass of past releases would be reached such that a given individual's tastes could encompass a lot of older work.

This can also happen when someone becomes newly familiar with an artist who has had a long career, or when someone delves into the musical influences of a favorite artist.

The record companies want us to think that is what accounts for most of this. But now I am going to tell you the rest of the story.

It's not just because I am old and crotchedy. After all, I both compose and enjoy cutting-edge EDM music. No, the cold hard fact is that a lot of recent music sucks.

Let me define "sucks" in specific terms.


In past eras, musicians had to be at least somewhat clever about expressing sexual ideas. It could be the fairly obvious line from AC/DC's "Let me put my love into you" or the more circumspect line from John Denver: "You fill up my senses, come fill me again." Today, far too many popular acts have crossed the line into outright vulgarity, leaving nothing to the imagination.

As much as those in media want to define us down to mere rutting animals, there is a fair amount of romance, sentiment and even actual love tied to our relationships. And skipping straight to the vulgarity cheapens the sentiments enough that most of us cannot relate.

The next problem is again a lack of relation. A few years ago my daughter picked up an album by Hillary Duff -- a sort of Disney-made pop singer. Looking at the liner notes, I noted that all of the songs had been written and produced by committees to a focus group. This was homogenized music, including of course the obligatory preachy anti-racism tract. This is not timeless music. This is not music that really speaks to anyone. It's just hyped music you listen to once, but it doesn't stay with you. It's not worth buying.

Furthermore, the music has gone beyond merely vulgar into pushing interracial sex, transexualism, homoerotic themes and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control, if you add all the homosexuals, transexuals, asexuals and other odd sexual expressions together, you only get 2.4% of the population. Most people really can't relate to those themes.

Finally, given its marginal value ... there is no point in buying an album to hear a complete concept in context, like you could with Pink Floyd's "The Wall." With many albums, it was worthwhile to look at the liner notes to pick up context and unifying themes, or to find references between the songs. But that does not apply with music written by committees to a focus group where the artist is merely a performer, and the song content has nothing truly valuable.

So guess what? Anyone who wants the music just uses an offline ripper to rip it as an MP3 off of Youtube or a million other ways to obtain it.

So ... as I said earlier ... the newer music, particularly in pop genre's ... just simply is not good enough. It's not worth buying.


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