Old Albums Outsell New Albums

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
On itunes in America.

Over the years there have been many threads on this board about new music vs older music.

Many have said older music is better than newer music, while others contend it's just a case of when you're young, you like new music, and as you get older, you tend to stick to older music.

Well, now iTunes is weighing in on this debate with the fact that old music outsold new music for 2014.

http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/old-albums-now-outselling-new-albums-itunes-america/

MBW has discovered that ‘new’ albums were outsold by ‘old’ (catalogue) albums online in the US for the first time in 2014.

The feat of catalogue albums outselling frontline releases was first achieved back in 2012, but that was a momentary blip; it’s never taken place over a whole year before.

The iTunes/downloads tipping point, as shown by Nielsen stats, is undoubtedly a cute moment, but it also highlights what will be a serious worry for the industry in the future: as you can read/see below, there has been a shocking erosion of sales of ‘new’ albums on physical formats in the past decade.

Such data asks two very clear questions of record labels: are people merely starting to consume their new music on streaming services rather than buying it in album form? Or are they increasingly less impressed with the new album releases that arrive year-in, year-out?

One thing looks certain: it now only appears a matter of time – very possibly in 2015 – when catalogue albums outsell new releases across all formats in a single year.
http://classicrock.teamrock.com/news/2015-01-29/old-album-sales-a-worrying-trend-for-music-industry
One example of a catalogue album selling well is Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers' Greatest Hits – originally released in 1993 – which is currently in the iTunes top 100 albums chart.

Industry expert Tim Ingham says it's a worrying trend for the music business and adds that it's only a matter of time before catalogue records outsell new releases on physical formats such as CD and vinyl as well as online.

The figures, compiled by Neilson, reveal that 53.6million digital catalogue albums were sold in the US in 2014, as opposed to 52.9million new releases.
I contend some of this has to do with artist development. In the 60's, 70's and 80's. record companies would stand behind a band who initially flop because over time the bands would get better. But starting in the late 80's, and in full force by the mid-90's, bands either did well immediately or were dropped.

And some of it is perhaps younger crowds know how to download everything for free, and it's just the old people who are re-buying up albums of their youth in the itunes format.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I think it's neat that we were on the cusp of an old industry dying in the late 90's, and the digital markets taking over.

Now, the digital venues are beginning to suffer, and new industries are popping up as the art finds its way from musicians to listeners. We've seen artists pimping themselves doing play-alongs for youtube ad-share. We've even seen artists doing direct sales and forego'ing 3rd party storefronts. I wonder where it will go next?

While I can keep playing as a hobby and having a ball, my heart goes out to the professional musicians that have to deal with all this constant disruption. When I talk to my 65 year-old father about it, he says "In my day, all we had to deal with was Disco!" That must have been vicious.
 

Notbob

Senior Member
They define "current" as the last ten years. Everything before that is "old catalog".

I guess I'm not too surprised that everything released prior to 2005 outsold everything released since. That's a lot of material and there are new listeners born every day (and older ones discovering older material every day).
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
And some of it is perhaps younger crowds know how to download everything for free, and it's just the old people who are re-buying up albums of their youth in the itunes format.
I think this is a big factor. Many of the 20-somethings I know never buy music.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I am a great example of this phenomenon. Last year I bought an 80's era pioneer turntable, receiver and speakers. Since then I have been buying vinyl to replace the older albums I let go over the years. I have bought a bunch of older albums that I think will sound great on vinyl. MC5, The Stooges, Bowie, The Kinks all great bands that sound better analog. Taylor Swift is definitely not on my radar.

I also think its a factor that people my age still buy music. I dont think my kids have ever purchased an album in their lives.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Must be only older folks buying all this stuff from iTunes, and all this old stuff naturally.
Lefsetz talks about this all the time. The 20-somethings do not need to *own* their music, or own anything. They borrow, use, so they are streaming all of it for free, and really have no catalog that an older person would value.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
The 20-somethings do not need to *own* their music, or own anything.
They seem to be happy to pay for hardware. Content, not so much.


I contend some of this has to do with artist development. In the 60's, 70's and 80's. record companies would stand behind a band who initially flop because over time the bands would get better. But starting in the late 80's, and in full force by the mid-90's, bands either did well immediately or were dropped.
Yep.
 

Reggae_Mangle

Silver Member
I don't think the content of the older albums should be discounted in this debate, although someone may argue about what makes music good. There's just so much more "classic" material that's available than the one-hit-one-album stuff that's in heavy airplay nowadays.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I rarely buy music these days when paying for a subscription service is so much more convenient. I don't feel the need to own anything other than what can't be streamed from such a service, like The Beatles for example.

Does that make me a bad person?
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I rarely buy music these days when paying for a subscription service is so much more convenient. I don't feel the need to own anything other than what can't be streamed from such a service, like The Beatles for example.

Does that make me a bad person?
Nah, that's perfectly legit. The subscription service is like a rental.

For that matter, radio is "free" to the end user, paid for by ad dollars.

But you knew that already, lol!
 

Macarina

Silver Member
I think one of the underlying concerns is culture. From my observations which are knee jerk at best, I don't think today's youth place much value in music. Meaning, everything to them is disposable, fleeting and looking for the next shiny object.

My generation (56), many looooooooved the music. It was a driving force. I connected with it. I sought it out and grabbed, embraced, bought everything that had an impact on me. That internal drive still exists for, yes the obviously old material, but the new material as well.

I don't see this generation taking time and letting, just about anything, get engrained. Short Attention Span Theater if you will.

And I think that is a major concern for the music industry.

I could be wrong.
 

Jankowske

Senior Member
...I don't think today's youth place much value in music. Meaning, everything to them is disposable, fleeting and looking for the next shiny object.

My generation...
I'm pretty sure that people from every single generation have said this about the next one. Not just about music. There is a very basic reluctance among (certain) older people to accept that the next generation is just as, if not marginally more intelligent and capable as they are. Also, it's very easy to look at a certain stereotype of a vapid, naive youth and to assume some basic superiority over them, when the reality is that there are stupid people of all ages and that teenagers always have and always will behave like teenagers.

Newsflash: Buddy Holly and The Beach Boys are just as bad, lyrically vapid, and utterly devoid of any musical merit as Taylor Swift and One Direction. Which is to say they aren't. Pop music is the same now as 60 years ago, just better-produced, and people that only enjoy top 40 radio and do not "truly appreciate music" are equally represented across all ages.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
I'm no Beach Boys fan, but have you heard of Pet Sounds?

And also.......Buddy Holly? That man is amazing.
 

Jankowske

Senior Member
I like Buddy Holly, The Beach Boys, and Taylor Swift. I'm just saying that there will always be people that write off some arist or a whole genre as some transient fad, just because they don't care for it. And just because X band is popular with Y age group at the moment means that all of Y age group doesn't know how to properly enjoy music.

It's just as ridiculous as me saying that the entire baby boomer generation is dull and close-minded because they don't listen to top 40 radio. Yeah, there's lots of older people that don't like Skrillex and have probably been listening to the same 10-20 albums for the last 30 years, but it doesn't make that statement true for the whole group.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I still think artist development plays into this.

A few examples:

Fleetwood Mac had something like 8 albums and a few line up changes before Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined, and then they went on to be one the biggest selling bands of the 70's and huge legends.

Rush first 3 albums didn't sell well. Their 4th went gold. Their 8th album was a huge multi-platinum success and became a classic rock staple.

Journey's first 3 albums bombed. The label asked them to get a real frontman, their 4th album did ok at first, but the band didn't get out debt until their 5th album. Then their 8th made them on of the biggest bands in the world.

Bruce Springsteen's first two albums initially sold poorly, but the label agreed to back him for a 3rd album, and the rest is history.

Pink Floyd first several albums were not big sellers until they made the album that is only the biggest selling albums of all time, Dark Side of the Moon.

Many of the biggest selling albums of the 70's and 80's were by artist who initially failed, but the label backed them anyway. But from the 90's on, if a band didn't have a hit out of the gate, they dropped them. And even successful bands were dropped if they didn't keep up the hits.

Which is, IMHO, why there will never be another Rumors, Dark Side of the Moon, Escape, Born in the USA, etc, because bands aren't given the time or support to come up the ideas that become legendary.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Reading this page it seems there's a fair few factors.

Ian, look at the early albums of the artists you listed. Floyd were experimental. Journey was still playing fusion tunes back then and were basically a musicians' band. I don't know Rush's first albums but I imagine they were less accessible than their breakthrough albums.

Most people's music tastes are really, really, really, really, really, really conservative (give or take a couple of "reallys"). They do not easily tolerate gratuitous creativity, adventure or risk taking in their music.

White bread only please - and none of that extra fibre stuff or seeds! Damn the bastards to hell, I say ;)

The missing link is passion. Each of those bands was passionate about playing good music and musicianship. They were passionate enough to prioritise the music over commercialism (a key difference to today's "I just wanna be a star" crowd). No doubt, the bills of those non-commercial bands started piling up so they had to slip in enough "white bread" to broaden their appeal (and pay said bills).

The Tubes are a good example. They were brilliant when they started out, one of the most creative acts to come out of the rock scene in the US. Superb musicians and arrangers and clever writers. Then the bills piled up, largely due to their maniacal stage show. So their following albums increasingly became standard American AOR. And no doubt paid the bills.

A lot of people are musically ignorant in the Anglosphere and their musical tastes are like a child's taste for food - everything has to be bland and easy to chew and digest. In parts of Europe, South Amrica and in the US's black and Latino communities, music is a more important part of the culture, with many more people at least dabbling in playing an instrument. As a result, adventurous bands that don't want to compromise often find they have to go to one of these places to find a musically educated audience. I've seen clips of audiences for jazz, fusion and prog in South America and Europe that rival pop crowds in the US and England for size and exuberance.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
...and it's just the old people who are re-buying up albums of their youth in the itunes format.
When CD's made their breakthrough in the mid 80's, I re-bought several recordings that I had in vinyl format... so I guess you're right Ian, nowadays, people buy older stuff from itunes.

Which is, IMHO, why there will never be another Rumors, Dark Side of the Moon, Escape, Born in the USA, etc, because bands aren't given the time or support to come up the ideas that become legendary.
Those wonderful albums became legendary over a period of time... a long time...

... given enough time, some of very recent music/artists/bands will become legendary... and as always, it will be a small minority of the whole music business release.

Most people's music tastes are really, really, really, really, really, really conservative (give or take a couple of "reallys"). They do not easily tolerate gratuitous creativity, adventure or risk taking in their music.
Indeed, indeed... there's the odd occasion when someone not only tolerate an artist or band, but they actually love them and often backtrack their history... it's a big world out there and sometimes... Bingo! why did I not heard of them before... :)
 

MaryO2

Member
In the 60s, 70s and even early 80s, it was also all about the ALBUM and not just the song. The WHO has had only one #1 song in the US (I can see for Miles) but it was things like Tommy that made it a musical 'experience' that kept you coming back. Often times listening to a whole album was almost like watching a movie...it had a story to tell. When I think of those artists, I often think in terms of the album not just one song...EJ's Yellow Brick Road, Floyd's The Wall, Journey's Escape...on and on.

Today, i'm not sure I could name an album, just single hits. And I rarely hear someone from the younger generation talking about music in terms of an album or compilation. I think people long for that musical experience that seems to be lacking today.

Perhaps I just don't see it. I'll be the first to admit that I don't open myself up to enough new music. And as others have said, there is a lot of this that is just history repeating itself....the older generation always seems to believe that their stuff is better than the new stuff. Just think...in 40 years, there'll probably be mothers and fathers telling their kids that it's a shame that they can't appreciate good music like Nikki Minaj and Pitbull from the old days....lol.
 
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