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Why Does Old Music Outsell New Music?

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  • Why Does Old Music Outsell New Music?

    I have functioned my entire career in a world of music dependent on the appreciation of great sound, sonic excellence and utilization of the...
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor,

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  • #2
    Maybe older music was just performed by artist that actually were musicians who understood what their fans wanted and not what the label wanted. Today the mainstream music industry is a business and they want dollars and its appears quality at times is not included. So sell it to the smartphone crowd. Make a buck. Or maybe its the culture, fake country music, rap with a lot of violence thrown in, pop music to cut down a past lover etc.. Maybe the kids today just don't care and neither do the record labels, as its all about the $$$ .

    Oh another thing, going to your local club or the ones we visit the bands (live bands) are playing music from the 60, 70, 80's not some DJ standing up there spinning pop CD or taped music on a drive. Which might be a age group thing.
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    • Johnny Vinyl
      Johnny Vinyl commented
      Editing a comment
      I'll offer up a slightly different take. I think the artists back then knew what THEY wanted, not necessarily their fans. I think the labels back then were much more supportive of their artists and provided greater leeway for expression. Now it's a business, purely a business. Its like anything in life...once you take away the freedom to express you take away any chance of creativity.

  • #3
    I think it´s us old farts that buys music and we hanker for the music of our youth.
    And MAYBE it´s because the major labels are putting out their back catalogs?

    I don´t know. I buy about 50% current material.


    • #4
      In the old days we pretty much had music curated for us by the radio stations and the retailers. These days finding new music looks like you've stepped from the real world into this.....

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      • Rob
        Rob commented
        Editing a comment
        clear channel, iHeart or whatever you want to call them has effectively ruined radio, same unimaginative effing playlist not just everyday but every two hours. If I had to guess old music outsells new music because the ol' fogies that listen to it actually pay for downloads. any millennial will tell you only the stupid pay for music.

      • JackD201
        JackD201 commented
        Editing a comment
        Good point. I hadn't really thought of that.

      • Rust
        Rust commented
        Editing a comment
        +1 on the ridiculous playlists sent out by some corporate moron with likely no actual interest in music. If I tune in at the same time next week I'm likely to hear the same playlist. It get monotonous and dull.

    • #5
      The article reads like analog vs digital audio or film argument to me without ever directly mentioning it. I don't know anything about the author but given his age he must have been active from mid 70's on, not exactly the "Golden Age" of audio! So I wonder how poorly made things are today since I know nothing more than how much I hate today's dominant artists and their work...

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      • #6
        I question the premise- is "older" music really outselling new releases today? The author offers no support for this fact, but then proceeds to explain his theory of "why." (Granted, a hot seller today is in quantities that were a fraction of the new releases back in the day by Zep, Fleetwood Mac or the Carpenters, but that's a different question). And part of the answer to that is most people don't 'buy' music, rely on free streaming sites and aren't conditioned, as we were, to treat new releases by artists as an event. You now have access to these new releases without buying anything.
        As to the argument that older artists were more capable, that may be true if you are focused on crappy pop/hip-hop. But, we had our share of schlock from mediocre artists back in the day--the whole Wrecking Crew story tells of the real players behind the scenes of many popular bands who were pretty much incapable of performing in the studio.
        To the extent the thesis is that the 'older artists couldn't rely on studio gimmicks' I think you really lose that argument by the early '70s- when 24 track was common, along with lot's of outboard processing. I'm a big fan of simple recordings but an awful lot of great records made in the '70s weren't so simple, used elaborate studios filled with gear.
        Do record sales correlate with sound quality? I doubt it. It was a happy coincidence that some very popular records were well recorded. I don't think that was meant to improve sales- I think the artists, their producers and managers just strove for excellence and got it. Remember, in the good old days, record labels actually advanced money to artists to pay for studio time (yeah, I know, the artists paid it back out of earned royalties, but that's a different question).
        Maybe it is simply "ears" and conditioning-- if the only thing you are familiar with is computer based music played back over desk top speakers, produced in a home studio on pro-tools, your standards are different. A lot of hip/hop sounds pretty awful, and I'm not commenting on the music, but the sonics.
        The one thing I did like was his mention of a Fairchild compressor. Those things are the bomb--that's what the great George "Porky" Peckham used to juice his masters. Rare and costly today.


        • MylesBAstor
          MylesBAstor commented
          Editing a comment
          I totally agree with your second sentence and was struck by that!

      • #7
        Does old music outsell new music?

        i don't think so.

        Most youg people stream and pay for it. My daughter and all her friends at uni do not buy music - they stream it.

        If you add streaming to normal physical sales, i find it hard to believe

        that said, so much great new music around, its hard to keep up.
        new albums from Actress, The Bug vs Earth, Perfume Genuis, Arca and Demen to name a few are amazingly good.


        • #8
          The older music is called classic - classical, classic rock, classic jazz. It's timeless and has been the soundtracks of our lives. There are events and meanings we associate with it. It continues to sell, be remastered and sells again. But we're the ones buying it. My 26 year old daughter was raised on and loves it but she calls it "oldies". She listens to lots of newer music. I. too, would like to think our music is superior to today's music but I'm not sure that's true. There is a lot of great music being made today - it's just different.

          The younger generation may buy music - songs rather than albums - in the form downloads but most are streaming now preferring to rent rather than own. So I find it hard to believe the older music is really outselling the newer. I'm sure many more people are listening to newer music.
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          • #9
            You know, I could spend awhile writing about the failures of the music industry that ultimately were short sighted and self destructive, the societal changes wrought by the digital age, the technical changes in recording due to digital and ad infinitum.

            Bottom lie to me is you can't polish a turd. Thus far this year I haven't heard anything new that interested me in the least. In the sixties I would have heard at least ten keepers in the same amount of time in any given year.


            • #10
              I buy craploads of lps and nearly all of it is new material. I do pull out 60's-70's releases, especially jazz, but the limited releases of new jazz on vinyl is partially responsible for not owning more...not the quality of the musicianship or material. I find much of new releases pleasantly engaging and creative.
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              • #11
                I didn't read the article, but off the top I'd say the reason is: because there is so much more old music than new. The odds we'll like something across the vast past is greater than the narrow present.


                • mkuller
                  mkuller commented
                  Editing a comment
                  That's true. Back in the late 1960's for example, the Beatles and other popular artists were coming out with 3 or 4 albums a year. Now one a year is a lot for an artist.

              • #12
                Old music is proven already we know we like it before we buy it. I own many albums that I have not yet played while some is new and some are old it's the old I cherish more.
                Min attending rock concerts they always mixed in some new songs. Stub we may learn to like in time. But for me I went for old proven songs.
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                • #13
                  Myles I asked my brilliant daughter that has two masters degrees this very question ; Why Does Old Music Outsell New Music? She said, there are more older people like you dad buying older music than younger people
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                  • #14
                    Old music is new music to somebody.
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