Home Forum Research Is Capitalism Killing New Music?

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  • #247615

    From a recent article by Ted Gioia published by the  Atlantic:

    Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market, according to the latest numbers from MRC Data, a music-analytics firm. Those who make a living from new music—especially that endangered species known as the working musician—should look at these figures with fear and trembling. But the news gets worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking. All the growth in the market is coming from old songs.

    More importantly, new revenue growth is increasingly driven primarily by old songs:

    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. 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.

    After noting the current “land rush” to purchase the catalogues of recording artists from the 70s, 80s and 90s (e.g., Dylan, Nicks , Springsteen, Bowie), Gioia argues the root cause of the death of new music is risk-avoidance:

    The problem isn’t a lack of good new music. It’s an institutional failure to discover and nurture it.

    I learned the danger of excessive caution long ago, when I consulted for huge Fortune 500 companies. The single biggest problem I encountered—shared by virtually every large company I analyzed—was investing too much of their time and money into defending old ways of doing business, rather than building new ones. We even had a proprietary tool for quantifying this misallocation of resources that spelled out the mistakes in precise dollars and cents.

    Senior management hated hearing this, and always insisted that defending the old business units was their safest bet. After I encountered this embedded mindset again and again and saw its consequences, I reached the painful conclusion that the safest path is usually the most dangerous. If you pursue a strategy—whether in business or your personal life—that avoids all risk, you might flourish in the short run, but you flounder over the long term. That’s what is now happening in the music business.

    Anyway, the article indicates there’s plenty of evidence and data available to study this phenomenon from a CasP perspective.

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    • #247617

        Paging James McMahon…

        This looks like another case of differential accumulation through the reduction of differential risk. There’s a whole new cottage industry in acquiring music rights springing up that is connected with this process. Companies are buying song rights and then contracting other (often young and internet-hyped) musicians to record covers to juice their royalties earnings.

        The Baffler covered it last year:

        Mass Hipgnosis

        Thanks for posting!



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