For the first time in music history “catalogue album sales” – defined as any release over 18 months old, outsold current releases by 4.3 million, according to data compiled by Nielsen. To give some perspective, only a decade ago current music sales dominated catalogue music by over 150 million albums.
The new data comes from a 2015 year-end report by Nielsen, the data company that operates SoundScan music sales statistics that in turn informs the Billboard charts.
According to a report by VICE:
However, 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.
A trend towards pirated digital music downloads from torrents seems like a certain contributing factor in less new music being sold.
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Additionally, studies have shown repetitive choruses in music to be more popular, indicating a possible precipitating factor in the perhaps intentional dumbing down of musical content by the industry.
“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,” Professor Andrea Ordanini of Bocconi University, author of one of the studies, said.
The researchers analyzed songs going back to the 1950s, including 1,029 that reached number one and 1,451 that never climbed above 90. The chorus was repeated between one and 16 times in the songs. They found that for each additional repeat, a song’s likelihood of making it to number one increased by 14.5 per cent. But it decreased by 6.1 per cent with each additional year in the age of the main performer, according to the Telegraph.
Providing even further insight in an interview with AllHipHop.com legendary hip-hop artist Darryl McDaniels, more commonly known as DMC of the pioneering group Run-DMC, sums up the conundrum faced by artists. In reference to the expressive art form of hip-hop vs. the multi-billion dollar pop money machine hip-hop he states:
“It was inevitable that Hip Hop became commercialized but along the way our power got taken away,” he says in the story. “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,” he said. “Now everything that’s negative in stupid ass America is celebrated.”
If you believe the music market is driven by consumer demand, you would be sadly mistaken as it’s the ruling class taste-makers that prepackage and deliver the content they have decided is acceptable. The ability of the elites to condition the masses through music should never be underestimated.
Jay Syrmopoulos is a political analyst, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has been published on Ben Swann's Truth in Media, Truth-Out, Raw Story, MintPress News, as well as many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.