“Is Old Music Killing New Music?”

It would probably be more accurate to say “new music is killing new music,” but …

“The 200 most popular new tracks now regularly account for less than 5 percent of total streams. That rate was twice as high just three years ago. Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market. Even worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking.”

“The declining TV audience for the Grammy show underscores this shift. In 2021, viewership for the ceremony collapsed 53 percent from the previous year—from 18.7 million to 8.8 million. It was the least-watched Grammy broadcast of all time. A decade ago, 40 million people watched the Grammy Awards.”

22 thoughts on ““Is Old Music Killing New Music?”

  1. I think this is because older songs are simply more accessible due to streaming and youtube.

    Before that the most popular songs would be new songs because that is what people would hear on the radio and MTV and those are the songs they would buy. So new songs would only need to compete with other newer songs for attention and sales.

    Now older songs are more accessible due to streaming and now the new songs not only have to compete with new songs but also older songs. So naturally they have lower market share.

    Also music production is more accessible now. There are more producers, more musicians, more labels. So there are a lot more people making music and the market is so saturated, nobody stands out and nobody makes a lasting impression so they will be streamed years later. They are simply forgotten after a couple of years.

    1. It’s actually kind of cool to read that so many younger people in into older music. This could be a comment on the quality of new music, but it could simply be that they think a lot of the older music is good, and also, let’s not forget that statistically there is a lot more old music than new music. Rock music has existed as a major musical art form for about 66 years now (as rock and roll.)

      I always find it interesting when I go into chat groups and the like to find out what older styles of music and specific musicians younger people are familiar with.

  2. You old farts need to get with it. Try humming or whistling along with a rap/hip hop hit and you’ll be hooked.

    1. I do sometimes get hooked, but I can’t recreate it the next day, or even remember what it was.

      I try to keep some perspective. I can still remember how my grandparents thought Sinatra was destroying music (and culture in general), and then how my mom thought the same about Elvis, the Stones and the Beatles. I really have no way to imagine which contemporary music will endure to become classics for the people of the year 2100. Will Kanye be considered a greater genius than Lennon-McCartney or Gershwin? Dunno. I am too immersed in my own context. Trying to evaluate that would be like asking a fish his opinion of water.

      1. I try to keep an open mind but the point I was trying to make is that it is impossible to hum or whistle to rap/hip hop, because there is no melody. I’m sure it’s just a 40 year fad, and will go the way of disco just as soon as we have a “bring your rap records to a baseball game” night. Also, world peace is just around the corner

  3. Listen to pop music created from 1965 to 1984 or so. Now listen to pop music created from, say, the late 90s through today. If you do, it doesn’t take much thought to figure out why older music is listened to more.

    You used to need actual, you know, musical talent. Now you need auto tune and an Instagram account.

    I’d say I’m just an out-of-touch old man yelling at a cloud, but it seems they the numbers back me up. But still, get off my lawn!

    1. I’m an out-of-touch old man, too, but consider all the major musical genres that came into being from the latter decades of the 19th century to then end of the Eighties: Tin Pan Alley, ragtime, blues, jazz, country, the Broadway musical, R&B, rock, hip-hop, and all the subgenres each of the above engendered. So what comparable musical revolution has occurred in the last thirty years? The problem, quite simply, is stagnation.

    2. Slide over make room for me too. Grunge? It’s just distorted garage rock turned up real loud. The only new thing is playing the old things on a synthesizer. Fourth-wave ska’s “innovation” is to sound like first-wave ska.
      Please someone tell me I’m missing something here…

      1. Grunge was important, I think, the same way that punk was it was a retort to the stagnation and gimmickry that was endemic in pop music at the time. Late 80s pop had become horribly formulaic, and much like the over-reliance of auto tune today, was being a slave to synthesizers, drum machines, etc. The MTV-ification of pop was more-or-leas complete, and style had greatly overtaken substance.

        Of course, the irony is that MTV was also at least partially responsible for Grunge’s rise, but I guess that was probably inevitable. What really hurt Grunge’s reputation, I think, was they so few bands were authentic in their grunge-attitude, and a lot of very subpar imitators flooded the market.

        1. Side note: my typing is horrible on phones. Sorry for the typos. Wish we could edit comments.

        2. Grunge was good, the point was Grunge was nothing new. Everything in Grunge was already done before. Actually could make the case that everything was initially done in the 60s and everything later was basically just a copy. Punk, heavy blues, metal, electronic all had their roots in the 60s. Even some rap which started growing in the 70s.

          1. The Sixties was a seminal decade, but I wouldn’t say it was the decade when “everything was initially done.” There is no musical innovation that doesn’t build on something from the past, going all the way back when Ogg the caveman starting hitting a hollow log with a couple of sticks. I would rank the 1920’s as just as important a decade, if not more so. It saw the first flowerings of jazz, country, and the story-driven Broadway musical. It was the decade of Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin, Bessie Smith, and Jimmie Rodgers, all of whom were major game changers in their respective genres. And the new electrical recording technology made it possible to go out into the field and ferret out musical genres (like Delta blues) that hardly anybody knew even existed. Every time I see one of those “greatest songs of all time” lists, but don’t bother to look farther back than 1955, I consider that list invalid.

          2. Grunge is based at least partly on garage rock like The Sonics of the 1960s (also from Washington State) (and The Kingsmen of Louie Louie fame) and a few other bands and partly on alternative rock like Big Star of 1970 or so.

            Big Star greatly influenced the more melodic alternative rock of the 1980s, bands like The Replacements, REM and early The Bangles.

            It’s interesting how many of the most influential musicians either aren’t/weren’t famous or never became big themselves.

            In addition to The Sonics and most of the other early garage rock bands and Big Star, In country music Townes Van Zandt and John Prine were influential with alternative country musicians, not that any of them were very big themselves, and Gram Parsons with very influential with the country rock of the 1970s and on.

    3. Who’d have thought people would prefer songs created by musicians, than those created by computer programmers…

  4. Over 40 million people watched the Academy Awards in 2010. Fewer than ten million watched it last year — a similar drop to the Grammys.

    I think people just don’t watch television anymore, with the exception of sports. Over 90 million watched the Super Bowl last year, and the all time high was 115 million in 2015.

    1. I’m not sure last year, when so many movies didn’t release due to COVID and theaters were shuttered nation-wide, is the best year to judge Academy Award viewership.

  5. I’m an old, so I fit into this demo. I’ve not been even vaguely interested in the Grammy’s since Daft Punk last performed, and knew it was complete farce when Jethro Tull won the first year there was a “Best Hard Rock / Heavy Metal Recording” award.

    The faster these awards shows go away, the better. The *only* award that matters is “Best Nude Scene” so let’s get that thing televised…

    1. No shit, people would tune in. The award could be The Crappy, the show would be The Crapfest of course. Figure 15 minutes or so to run all the nominee clips, a clothing-optional acceptance speech, some ads. We’ll need some other crap though to pad this thing out to four hours.

      1. Live recreations of the nominees?

        This would be comparable to the Oscars featuring live performances of the nominated songs.

        1. It wouldn’t be that hard to come up with various categories–Best Lead Nudity, Supporting Nudity, New Nudity, Foreign Nudity, Cinematography, Sound Effects…okay, maybe not sound effects. And, of course, Lifetime Achievement.

Comments are closed.