Last week, the LA Times reported that Millennials “seem to have little use for old movies” while Hypebot reported that for the first time since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking album sales in 1991, “old records have outsold new ones.” Digital consumers see music and film as two different experiences, even though they are consumed through many of the same devices and online stores.
The LA Times author argues that Generation Y finds older movies “hopelessly passé — technically primitive, politically incorrect, narratively dull, slowly paced. In short, old-fashioned.” Film viewers become accustomed to picture quality, special effects, but also a style of acting and storytelling that evolves with pop culture. In that sense, film consumption is becoming more like fashion.
Audio recording technology and the instruments used for popular music, on the other hand, have not changed enough in the last 20 years to render older recordings outdated. The difference likely does not matter to the average consumer. But also, we’re accustomed to listening to songs over and over, our favorite songs possibly for the rest of our life. Could a song from our childhood mean more to us today? In that sense, music may act more like a fine antique.
You could argue this has always been the case, but the phenomenon has amplified in the new online market as the quantity of media options and rate of change have accelerated. When presented with an overwhelming number of options, consumers will increasingly pick the newest, most culturally relevant film, particularly because there are not huge price differences between renting old and new. But among music libraries growing faster than ever, with unlimited access through services like Spotify, we may increasingly choose a song we already know.
As a content creator seeking fans, viewers or simply profit, producing a new version of something recognizable can overcome this phenomenon, whether it’s an updated remake of a popular film, a new sequel, a cover song or a re-record.
Images courtesy of Flickr users ‘overseastom’ (left) and ‘Jason Pier in DC’ (right)