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Old music outselling new music
By Gloria Diaz
Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!
Fort Wayne Reader
I saw something on my Facebook feed about how old music (old meaning 18 months or more) is outselling new music for the first time in history.
I’m sort of surprised by this, but not really. I grew up in an era where you could buy a 45 for maybe $1.25. If you heard the song on the radio, you could buy it in the store without buying the whole album. I bought a lot of music this way, simply because it was cheaper. Why spend $8-10 bucks on an album where you might just like one song? Twenty years ago, “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Pocket” was released, and I loved it. By that time, the CD single had replaced the cassingle (single songs on cassette tapes), but that song wasn’t available as a single. So I spent $14 on the CD album. I realized I paid $14 for one song. And that’s the last time that happened.
For a while, I’d buy compilation albums. Mostly music from the 1970s. It was comforting to know that I could buy an album and recognize all of the songs, and actually like all of them. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve purchased albums, but usually because it was one of those stunning albums where three or four hit singles were released from it—like Jagged Little Pill. For a while, when I had my ‘zine, I would rate albums by how much money it cost, divided by how many songs I liked. A $12 CD that had four songs that I liked had an entertainment factor of $3 per song. Obviously, the lower the number, the better.
The last CD I bought of “new” music (if you could even call it that) was Lorde’s Pure Heroine. I don’t even know how I heard about the music. Maybe it was through the P.A. system at work. “Team” was one of my favorite songs off that album. I like the vibe of the album. Perhaps it appeals to the teenage girl in me. The music speaks of working class teenagers, not rolling in money, but still owning their world and managing to have a good time anyway. Part of me is jealous of Lorde, being so young and having talent and self-esteem. There are times when I want to go back to high school with what I know now, and just totally run over the assholes who made my life miserable. But I like Lorde’s acknowledgement of the “cool kids” and how she wasn’t one of them, but look at her now, bitches.
And I know everyone is freaking out over Adele, but I only like one of her songs, and it’s not one of the sad ones. She makes falling in love seem awful and miserable and life-ruining. Props to her and Taylor Swift for making careers out of bad men (I should be so lucky) but to me Adele represents generic pain and suffering. If I want to listen to someone I really LIKE, I’ll listen to Fiona Apple, with her contralto voice and much better lyrics.
And yes, I’m guilty for listening to older music too. And it makes sense that people are buying older stuff. The population is aging. Radio is sharply regimented. And some of the stuff that I really love isn’t even available to purchase. I’ve discovered a local techno/house music place, and I’ll probably be going there on a more regular basis.
As for the purchase of “older” music, is it really that current music sucks? It’s ironic, with technology making the process more democratic, and easier to get discovered (we have YouTube to thank for Justin Bieber) it seems like there’s nothing about music today that stirs me. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived long enough to know that the 00’s were one of the worst decades of my life. I think it sucked for a lot of other people too. If times get better, will the music get better too? Or is making it easier to create music means we’ll be surrounded by crap?
I hope not. But I think whatever music comes out when we’re young is the stuff that stays with us, regardless if someone thinks it’s “crap.” My parents didn’t like the music of the 1970s and beyond, and I grew up listening to classical, broadway, Latin jazz, opera, and easy listening. Of course, I listened to rock, but I’m glad my father had a wide taste in music. But true to form, I like music from the 70s and the 90s the best. The 80s too, but I try not to think about that.
Times change, and the music reflects that. But a lot of musicians sample from more obscure sources. I can’t stand Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me,” but the chorus features a catchy sax sample, and I found it in “Hermetico” by Balkan Beat Box. Incidentally, it’s a far superior song, and not nearly as tacky as “Talk.” Thanks Jason, for helping me find “new” music. Keep sampling—I can’t wait to discover something else I like.
Want uncensored snarky commentary on stuff I like and dislike? Check out my blog: www.edgeofgloria.blogspot.com. The link below my column on FortWayneReader.com is WORKING!