Daily Distraction: Read about the dominance of old music over new music

'The 200 most popular new tracks now regularly account for less than 5 percent of total streams,' writes Ted Gioia in The Atlantic

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Creedence Clearwater Revival

Much of the music biz talk in recent weeks has centered around Neil Young's Spotify boycott and the so-called return of the CD. But recently in The Atlantic, music writer Ted Gioia tackled a topic that, before his essay, hadn't garnered as much interest: "Is Old Music Killing New Music?"

"Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market, according to the latest numbers from MRC Data, a music-analytics firm. ... The 200 most popular new tracks now regularly account for less than 5 percent of total streams. That rate was twice as high just three years ago," Gioia writes. "The mix of songs actually purchased by consumers is even more tilted toward older music. The current list of most-downloaded tracks on iTunes is filled with the names of bands from the previous century, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Police."

While it's possible the pandemic could be contributing to this phenomenon, Gioia makes the case that other indicators suggest otherwise. "The leading area of investment in the music business is old songs. Investment firms are getting into bidding wars to buy publishing catalogs from aging rock and pop stars," he writes.

The issue isn't a lack of good new music. Rather, it's "an institutional failure to discover and nurture" new bands. Take a few minutes to read the whole thing here.