We Might Be Due for a Musical Revolution

Ted Gioia explores a stagnant industry in the 'Atlantic,' and the problem is CEOs, not artists
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2022 9:30 AM CST
New Music's Biggest Threat? Old Music
   (Getty/Popartic)

(Newser) – Music writer Ted Gioia takes note of a stat that he says should trouble anyone interested in new music: Old songs—by definition, those older than 18 months—now account for 70% of the music market, he writes in the Atlantic. What's more, this trend is accelerating. Music streamed and/or purchased by consumers is increasingly of the older variety. While precise breakdowns aren't available, Gioia suspects much of it is decades old, rather than, say, 2 years old. Consider that some of the biggest industry moves these days revolve around the purchase of catalogs from the likes of Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. Consider, too, that the vinyl LP is now the biggest-selling format of music. So what's happening? Gioia writes that he frequently hears—particularly from Boomers—that new music just isn't as good as the old stuff. He doesn't buy it.

"I listen to two to three hours of new music every day, and I know that plenty of exceptional young musicians are out there trying to make it," he writes. "They exist. But the music industry has lost its ability to discover and nurture their talents." Gioia goes on to detail what he sees an "institutional failure" of the music industry on this front, a problem that applies to all genres, even classical. In fact, especially classical. But it's not all bleak. Gioia takes "solace" in noting that "musical revolutions come from the bottom up, not the top down. The CEOs are the last to know." Think Elvis, the Beatles, hip-hop, and lots more, going centuries back. "That will be how this story ends: not with the marginalization of new music, but with something radical emerging from an unexpected place." (Read the full piece.)

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