Old Music Outsells New Releases For The First Time In Music History

Studies show that increasingly repetitive choruses are a reason behind music success.

Credit: The Free Thought Project

For the first time in history, “old” music is selling far better than newly released music, according to data compiled by data company Nielsen. “Catalogue album sales” refers to any music that was released 18 months ago or more. This category of music has outsold new releases of a variety of genres by 4.3 million, according to data that was compiled by Nielsen. The data company that operates SoundScan music sales statistics which enables Billboard charts to be compiled, announced the new findings which were an outcome of their 2015 year-end report. Just 10 years prior to this, newly released music tracks dominated catalog music sales by over 150 million albums, according to the research.

However, a report by VICE concluded that there could be more to the statistics than merely the popularity of new music. VICE said, “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.” In recent years, streaming music from illegal websites and digital music downloads from torrents has become a lot more common, which could be an indicator to the reasons behind fewer sales of new music.

In addition to this, another reason behind the decrease in sales of current music could be the change in music style, as some have suggested. Studies have shown that music with repetitive choruses tend to be

Credit: Britannica

more popular, which could indicate a contributing factor of the dumbing down of musical content in recent years by the industry. The author of one of the studies, Professor Andrea Ordanini from Bocconi University, 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”.

Researchers of the musical studies analyzed a mix of number one and unsuccessful songs all the way back to the 1950s. The chorus of the songs was repeated between one and 16 times in all of the songs. Their results concluded that for each additional repeat of the chorus, the song’s likelihood of making it to the number one spot increased by 14.5%. Despite this, the study reported by the Telegraph also found that this likelihood decreased by 6.1% with each additional year in the age of the performer.

Legendary hip-hop artist Darryl McDaniels, famously known as DMC of the pioneering group Run-DMC, commented on the new research from a music artist’s perspective. He made a comparison between expressive forms of hip-hop versus the multi-dollar making industry of commercialized hip-hop. He said,

“It was inevitable that Hip Hop became commercialized but along the way, our power got taken away. 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, now everything that’s negative in stupid ass America is celebrated.”

Whilst many believe that the music market is driven by favorable likes of the consumer, reports have stated that this is not the case. Music goes through a lengthy process before it gets to the mainstream market which involves people in power deciding what is acceptable, and therefore what they can use to condition the masses through an unsuspecting source that the public receives as music.


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