First time in history

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    Andy Brown

    2015 marked the first time in U.S. history that new releases were outsold by catalogue albums. Seems like everyone’s been feeling extra nostalgic lately.

    The term “catalogue” refers to albums released more than 18 months ago. According to Nielsen’s annual year end music report, catalogue albums outsold current releases by 4.3 million copies, something never before seen in the industry. Just 10 years ago, current music sales outpaced catalogue music by over 150 million albums. Keep in mind that these stats don’t include album streams, but regardless, it’s a significant turning point.

    Old music is outselling new music for the first time in history


    Certainly another indicator of how the music industry has changed. The combination of technology and changing tastes has certainly been transitional.

    A good movie on this general topic is currently running on Showtime, “All Things Must Pass” is an excellent history of Tower Records, from their original roots in Sacramento to bankruptcy. A must see.


    Old music is “outselling” new music because new music listeners rent their music, they don’t buy it.

    Andy Brown

    Streaming subscriptions is a failed business model. Pandora is going bankrupt. It only had initial “success” because it cheated the crap out of artists royalties. Now as the lawsuits are working their way through the courts (Spotify will be the next to fall) and the streaming services are being forced to pay up, they don’t have an operating model to sustain what they are doing.


    Yeah, I agree with both observations.

    I have a hard time paying for music streams. At least at the rates they want for them. I don’t get enough control for the price either. So, I just don’t do it. Will mooch on a freebie plan once in a while, but that’s about it.

    Renting music, as in paying for access, just is a non-starter too. Music is small, and there is a lot of it. More than I could ever hear. New music competes with old music, and how well that plays out boils down to what I can get new music for and what I can do with it. Quality is a factor too, but not always.

    When I buy a tune, I’m done. In this digital time, I’ll never, ever need to buy it again, unless the only thing I can buy is somehow crappy. This happens, and sometimes I can buy a better one, lossless, or I can find it and rip it from a DVD or Blu-Ray to get the better mastering, etc…

    For the most part, I’m not buying again.

    This is what streaming was supposed to get after. Monetizing the back catalog well enough to have it all work out. But, the streams just aren’t worth the money. Not to me. Maybe they are to some people. Maybe they could up the control and the quality and charge more. I don’t know if that would balance it out, or just fail harder.

    Every bit of music I ever listened to fits on a thumb drive with room to spare and can be played on anything I own.

    Seems to me, making new music dead simple, cheap, etc… is the way to go. It also seems to me, having the labels play a much smaller role, and or artists selling direct to fans is also the way to go. More of the money goes to the people making the value, and that seems right to me.

    I’ll always pay more in that scenario too.


    I’m not saying the subscription music model is a failure or not. Time will tell. Personally I prefer to own my music via my iPod. But from what I’m seeing that market is shrinking as rental music is taking hold, especially with the younger listeners. I use free Pandora on occasion. I’ve been thinking about joining Spotify for $8 a month as I have several friends who are music buffs who LOVE Spotify.

    Regardless, the claim that “old music is outselling new music” is incredibly misleading. It’s outselling because the said demographic for old music prefers buying and the newer demographic prefers renting.

    The comparison is apples to oranges.

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