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“Chart Attack,” an on-line publication monitoring the entertainment industry, recently reported on a Nielson survey revealing old music is outselling new music for the first time in history.
The survey revealed “Current” music (new), was outsold by “Catalog” sales (albums released more than 18 months ago).
Current – 118.5M
Catalog – 122.8M
This includes physical albums (CD’s and vinyl), and digital tracks. The one exception was digital albums where “Current” sales squeaked by “Catalog.” Remarkably, the sale of vinyl records experienced a 52% increase in 2015. Once considered a dead music venue, vinyl is developing a cult following which explains its resurgence. To illustrate, Nielsen reported Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” vinyl album sold 50,000 copies in 2015.
The big question is, Why? I believe it has less to do with vinyl records and more to do with a change in our culture. I suspect a new form of music is in the offing, as Hip Hop (rap) may have run its course and youngsters are becoming more cognizant of quality music. In a way, it is reminiscent of the cultural change in the late 1940s and early 1950s when Rock and Roll supplanted Big Band music at the top of the charts.
Another indicator of the change in our culture is the rise of nostalgia television. On January 1st, Antenna TV began running reruns of “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.” Likewise, Sony’s GetTV began showing reruns of “The Merv Griffin Show,” as well as the “Decades” network featuring the old Dick Cavett show. If they ever bring back the old Joey Bishop show from ABC or Mike Douglas, I will start to wonder what decade we’re living in. I believe these networks are tapping into the viewer loyalty of old shows the way Turner Classic Movies (TCM) created a venue for older films.
I also suspect nostalgia TV is doing well with the Baby Boomers who cannot relate to today’s version of late nite television, finding the humor sophomoric and too political for their liking. So much so, they do not even find it worthwhile to DVR. But Carson and the others, that’s another story. If these old talk shows start pulling viewers away from the new shows, as in the case of the music poll, some network heads will likely roll and the late nite talk show will have to be reinvented.
Another reason for the rise of the older music and talk shows is a longing for normalcy, particularly by the Baby Boomer generation who cannot relate to today’s music, television or movies. And by ignoring the latest in entertainment, a schism grows between the generations.
Technology, war and political unrest are normally recognized as causes for social change, but our technology is stagnating and we are relatively at peace, not counting the Middle East, so the reason must lie elsewhere. Perhaps it is nothing more than content or the lack thereof, or youth no longer wants to buy what the media moguls sell.
One thing is clear, if these trends persist, where we embrace the old versus the new, something has to change in our culture. It is inevitable.
Keep the Faith!