NEWS

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August 1, 2006

The record industry reaps what it sows

Slate had this interesting discussion of the Now album series, which is now in its 22nd installment and more popular than ever. I remember when the second or third volume of Now was released. It struck me as a cool concept at the time (you have to forgive my music tastes, I was only twelve or thirteen), but now I couldn't be bothered. Contrast this with another popular album that the Slate article mentions, a new collection of Johnny Cash, which has also been very successful.Now, investing in Johnny Cash’s career has been a great long-term investment for the music industry (as opposed to the Now albums and the crap they piddle on to each volume). It’s a good investment because buying a collection of Johnny Cash is the type of purchase that will remain in someone's music collection and to lead to more, future purchases of Johnny Cash music and his contemporaries. That got me thinking, is my experience with the Now series an aberration or the typical result? I wonder how many people actually owns multiple volumes of Now that are separated by more than five units (so does someone who own volume five, own any of the releases after volume ten)? My guess would be that nobody actually does because Now is, by its very nature, a chameleon. Each year it is released with the "hot" music aimed at that year's batch of tweens who have the same disposable income and the same interest to listen to the "cool" music being played on TRL.If the music industry wants to know why its sales figures suck so much, they only need to look at themselves. Good artists are a long-term investment that pay off generation after generation. Crappy pop singles aren't. The music industry can blame Napster and its spin-offs all it wants (which seem to actually have a decent effect on sales), they aren't going to sell albums if they put out crap focused at making the top ten of the Billboard and then disappearing.