“Old” music is having a moment

People are listening to old songs now more than new music.

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“Old” music is having a moment


The Future. Old songs are dominating the modern music scene. Across music services, consumers are streaming, buying, and replaying old songs more than ever. Why? Big labels are playing it safe, banking on the success of old tunes. But, the labels relying too much on old artists might just end up overlooking the next new star.

Long live the oldies
Old is gold, according to listeners.

  • According to MRC Data, a music-analytics firm, old songs now make up over 70% of the U.S. music market.
  • The 200 top new tracks now consistently make up less than 5% of total streams, a 50% drop from three years ago.
  • Major record labels like Universal Music and Sony Music are funneling more resources towards buying old catalogs and songs than towards launching newer artists.

Of note, the way MRC Data defines “old music” is a peculiar one. Only songs released in the past 18 months are branded as “new,” which is a very… generous classification.

Tuning it out
Some think that this phenomenon can be attributed to the lack of new good music. Pointing to the rise of autotune, cheap melodies, and software loops, many believe that the mainstream hits of today are just not up to par.

But it would be off the mark to say that new music can’t hold a candle to older hits. Rather, as Ted Gioia of The Atlantic writes, “The problem isn’t a lack of good new music. It’s an institutional failure to discover and nurture it.”

Melody Song

Melody is a Bay Area-based writer exploring mental health innovation, psychedelics, and consciousness. When she’s not working with words, you can find her practicing yoga, soaking in the CA sun with a good book, or traveling somewhere tropical.


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