One of the reasons I’ve pretty much stopped making music is because of the depressing realisation that there’s very little support for anything new. For example, back in the days of physical media, record labels invested heavily in new music. The old adage of “you’re only as good as your last record” was very much in play.
Once you’d pressed up your CDs and vinyl and sold it, unless there was massive demand for more, no more copies would be made. It was as simple as that. You could only rely on a record for so long – and loads of tricks were used to increase the lifespan of music. Pop releases in the 1990s frequently came with house and garage remixes. Sales on vinyl counted towards the final chart position and decent remixes were guaranteed to sell.
Not anymore. Streaming has turned this on its head. In the past, if you wanted to listen to old music, you had to actively hunt for it. You had to go to record shops which had second hand vinyl. These days, you just search for it on Spotify and there it is. As I reported recently, 66% of all audio streaming in the USA these days consists of “catalogue material” – that’s anything which was released over 18 months ago.
And this appetite for the old has now permeated the world of physical media too. This is one reason why vinyl sales are up dramatically on a few years ago, and why older music also dominates here too. That looks set to continue, as Amazon recently launched its own record of the month club. They send out a record dating from the 1960s or 1970s to their subscribers every month on vinyl.
A company like Amazon comes with massive clout. This is something which vinyl pressing plants will find hard to ignore. So whilst they’re pressing “dad rock for actual dads” for Jeff Bezos, as 5 Magazine put it recently, everyone else has to wait up to a year for their records to come out the plant doors. Not terribly fair…
Thanks to 5 Magazine for providing the inspiration for this post.