Sales figures are out for the record biz first half of 2017. Streaming is booming, and so is vinyl. CD sales are way down and so are downloads. Drake led the pack along with Ed Sheeran. This is all stuff we knew and wrote about as it was happening.
But here’s a statistic from Buzz Angle that’s hidden: 50% or more of all recorded sales were from the “deep catalog.” That’s old music. That’s half of everything. The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Prince, Johnny Cash and Pink Floyd finished among the top 25 artists in album sales from January 1st to July 1st.
How crazy is that? The Beatles sold 324,000 albums– mostly their “Sgt, Pepper” box set priced at $117.99. They were 8th on the list. They beat Adele, Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, twentyone pilots, and Zac Brown Band among others.
According to Buzz Angle (a newer service similar to SoundScan), 51.2% of album sales were deep catalog, 49,5% of song sales were from that category as well as 46.7% audio streams. Even more interesting: 59.3% of all video streams were from deep catalog.
People are listening to oldies more than new music. This is certainly reflected in recent radio ratings, in which oldies stations were handily beating Top 40.
What’s going on? Oldies are comfort food, especially in uncertain times. Even classic rock is soothing. Plus, it’s just better. The music is better. It’s not as disposable as current offerings. It means something. I always said, starting around 1990, there was going to be a problem with a generation of sampling in hip hop. A couple of generations are now missing original music from their repertoire. In the end, no one is humming rap songs. But “Motown” songs– they’re forever.
The funniest part of the mid year report: a lot of people bought the “Guardians of the Galaxy” soundtracks on cassette tape. Cassette tape? What are they playing them on? Maybe Sony will bring back the original Walkman!