Music history was made recently when sales of new releases were beaten by older songs. Releases over 18 months old, which are called “catalogue album sales” outsold current releases by 4.3 million, according to data compiled by Nielsen.
To put this in perspective, just 10 years ago current music sales outsold catalogue music by over 150 million albums.
This new data comes from a 2015 year-end report by Nielsen, the company that compiles data for SoundScan music sales statistics which in turn compiles the Billboard charts.
According to a report by VICE:
This data pertains solely to albums—either physical or digital—and does not include streaming. So, whether the Nielsen report shows a real declining sales trend for new artists, or merely that we’ve shifted away from albums entirely (the argument that young people are more inclined to stream rather than purchase music seems plausible), is shocking, though perhaps not entirely unexpected.
One suggested reason as to why there has been such a huge drop in new music sales is the rise of pirated and other online ways of accessing new music, often illegally.
It is also claimed that the music industry has been intentionally dumbing down music over the years, as studies have shown that repetitive choruses prove more popular with the public. Professor Andrea Ordanini of Bocconi University, author of one of the studies, said.
“Despite the many factors that go into creating a hit song, we identify repetition of the chorus as one that has important real-world implications,”
“The researchers analyzed songs going back to the 1950s, including 1,029 that reached number one and 1,451 that never climbed above 90. The chorus was repeated between one and 16 times in the songs. They found that for each additional repeat, a song’s likelihood of making it to number one increased by 14.5 per cent. But it decreased by 6.1 per cent with each additional year in the age of the main performer” according to the Telegraph.
Legendary hip-hop artist Darryl McDaniels, more commonly known as DMC of the pioneering group Run-DMC has given an even further insight during an interview with AllHipHop. In reference to the clash of grassroots hip-hop vs. the more commercialised pop hip-hop he says:
“It was inevitable that Hip Hop became commercialized but along the way our power got taken away,” he says in the story. “Now you got the same 12 records on radio being played over and over again.”
“We wanted to change the world, taking responsibility for our actions,” he said. “Now everything that’s negative in stupid ass America is celebrated.”
Sadly, the music industry is driven by consumer demand, and as more and more commercialised material is out out by the music production companies, this becomes all the public want to listen to, squeezing original artists out of the picture.