Last summer, I published an article commenting on the fact 66% of all audio streaming in the USA consisted of so-called catalogue material. And just to be absolutely clear here, catalogue material is anything which was released more than 18 months ago. It’s one of the reasons why labels and publishers are currently spending obscene amounts of money buying the rights to entire artist catalogues.
In the case of dance music, where there are fewer of these catalogues available in the first place, what you’re seeing instead is old records being endlessly cannibalised and remixed. I’ve mentioned this a few times too – most recently in a post about the Traxsource Best of 2021 chart, which had plenty of mostly inferior remakes of older songs.
Whether we like it or not, streaming is what’s big at the moment and it’s here to stay. And my thoughts on this are mixed. Whilst the convenience of being able to listen to music anywhere you like is quite the innovation, my problems with Spotify and the rest of the industry refusing to pay artists properly are well known. But streaming has changed the game.
In the pre-internet days, most people bought their music in places like Woolworths. They would usually have the Top 40 chart records, some things which had fallen out of the charts discounted and then the albums and compilations. If you wanted to find something older, you had to actively seek it out in specialist record shops – meaning that you essentially had to support newer records.
Nowadays, if you don’t like the music in the charts, you can listen to all the older stuff – and many have clearly chosen to do that. The problem with this is it makes it extremely difficult for new music to break out. When it has to compete with millions of records which have come out over nearly the past century, the odds are frankly stacked against you.
Speaking personally, I’ve made a variety of records – and I honestly believe, for example, the likes of “What You Want”, which I did with singer Morris Revy back in 2020, would have been a far bigger song if it had come out in the 90s. I suspect at least one or two of the big house labels from the era would have been knocking the door, offering sacks of money for licensing.
But in this current age, it was sadly destined to not to do a great deal. I do what I can to support current music on this blog – but it needs to be a far wider effort than a one-man blog like this to get behind it.
So reading over on Music Business Worldwide that another poll has said 82.1% of all audio streaming from the USA consists of catalogue material wasn’t a surprise – but it was no less depressing. And whilst I applaud those of you who are still out there making the records we’ll be dancing to tomorrow, I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t more like me out there who just looked at the current climate and responded the way I did.
Namely by just saying “no, thank you”…