An article on The A.V. Club reports that for the first time ever, older albums outsold new ones last year. What’s interesting to me is the assumption that this is somehow a bad thing:
Just a decade ago, new releases were outselling old ones by 150 million albums a year. So what happened? Who or what is to blame for new music becoming an undesirable commodity? One culprit could be the so-called vinyl revival, which has heavily favored catalog titles like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, a 43-year-old album that nevertheless sold 50,000 copies in 2015. According to the article, younger music listeners who get into collecting vinyl are opting for older albums. And then there’s the possibility that people are more likely to stream new albums than purchase them. Regardless of the cause, it looks like nostalgia has a stranglehold on the music industry.
Who is to blame? New music is an undesirable commodity? Nostalgia has a stranglehold on the music industry??
Maybe this is trouble for the music industry, or new artists, or something we should wring our hands over, but as a music lover I just can’t see it that way. How I see it is that the more time passes, the more great music exists in the world, and that’s nothing but good news. This is why my annual best-of lists include anything new to me, and why my #musicMonday tweets are everything from new releases to oldie throwbacks.
Don’t get me wrong; I like new music, too. I’m not only a person who looks forward to Friday because it’s the day that new albums come out now, I still feel a little sad every Tuesday – the day new albums used to come out – that they changed it. I’ve pre-ordered three albums so far this year; new music is not an “undesirable commodity” to me.
But some old music is great, too. Not all of it, of course. Some of it was never good, and some is silly or kitschy or embarrassing or just doesn’t stand the test of time. But there’s a lot of music from a lot of years that’s really, really good. And thanks to the magic of continually-advancing time, there’s more and more every day! (Give or take.)
My advice: be on the lookout for “new” music that you like from any time: whether it’s oldies, classics, last year’s, or new releases. Getting into Pink Floyd, or Bowie, or The Eagles, doesn’t keep you from getting into Adele, or Shamir, or Savages.