Things That make you go, “Told You So”.
In the two decades since Nielsen Soundscan started to keep track of U.S. album sales in 1991, the company has seen the industry fold in half, digital sales catch up to physical, and vinyl mount an almost resurgence. But until last week, they’d never seen old records outsell new ones.
Analysts analyze of course, that’s their job.
According to Neilson’s paid analyst:
“The slide in sales is attributable to a slump in purchases of new albums, which are also more expensive. Catalog CDs and most digital albums stay close to the $7.99-$10.99 range, while new CDs are mostly in the $13-$18 range.”
In other words, older artists are “able” to sell their stuff less expensive.
So is the message here that consumers would be willing to buy more new CDs if the price dropped?
But maybe it’s more than that. First of all it’s hard to find “new” music. Good new music anyway.
What’s shoved down our throat now by the top 40 of today is full of auto-tuned beat driven drivel that is as disposable as a Bic lighter.
Good stuff is out there. I have found things I like a lot. ‘The Heavy’, ‘Plain White Tee’s’, ‘The Black Keys’, Jack White, ‘Citizen Cope’, Matisyahu, ‘The Foo Fighters’, and a whole lot of others. You just have to look. Too hard.
A lot of it is also pretty derivative of the old stuff, so why go to the trouble of searching for all this when the old classics did it better the first time around. I mentioned “The Heavy”, I love them because they sounded like Curtis Mayfield. So I went and got my Curtis Mayfield CD out. Yep, then it made me want to look into his “catalog” that I guess is cheaper than the new LMFAO cd. But I didn’t know that. I just preferred Curtis Mayfield.
I love discovering new music. I always have. But now it always seems to make me go back to the original stuff. The stuff that used to take chances. The stuff that used to push the envelope and your imagination. And I believe that is not the new artists fault. Are they really less talented than the musicians from the 60’s 70’s and part of the 80’s? Quite the contrary. The musicians hired for each album The Black Jacket Symphony performs range in age from kids to men. The young musicians most always make some of the seasoned veterans scratch their head. They simply are amazing.
Most of this has to do with timing. These are the same guys that used to be able to walk into EMI’s office and get a writing deal, then down the street to get a label bidding war started on them. The business is just not the same anymore. No label (or what’s left of them) is going to gamble on an album that’s about…anything. Katy Perry isn’t going to record a “Quadrophenia” like The Who. I’m not saying she can’t (although…she can’t) she just wouldn’t be allowed. Artist today have to be on the road 364 days a year to build their own following (that’s why you see so many jam bands) or you play the game and give the company one single at a time they can exploit on iTunes, and/ or YouTube.
And of that entire list of newer groups that are great, do you think they will still be discussed and studied like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones? I’ll answer that for you. No.
But this made me feel like I was finally getting old. As I have said in a joking way about the Black Jacket Symphony’s appeal, every generation says their music is better than the last. We just happen to be right.
I say that in radio and television interviews for the BJS. And I always meant it a little tongue in cheek.
But now I look around the crowds at our shows. These are not just baby boomers that are out there. College kids represent. 30 somethings are everywhere. Even high school kids and much younger are coming with their parents. They are into it.
Do they think it’s better? I know we are paying respect to very deserved music, and the crowds seem to agree.
And now the old stuff has out sold the new for the first time in music history.