Rock Biz

Classic Hard Rock Still Strong

guitar.jpgSaw this on Anti-Music. It is food for thought. In have marked in bold what I think is the most significat point.

(PR) It seems that people are opting for classic hard rock and metal CDs over most generic “new” music. This according to a report by the Associated Press. While record companies try to fathom reasons why people aren’t buying their “new” product, by ignoring the most logical explanation and looking to court tweens to help pick up their bottom lines, it appears that music from other eras where A&R people took chances on bands that didn’t sound like everyone else and bands were allowed to develop a fanbase over several albums is still attracting a lot of buyers.
Twenty-Seven years after its release, AC/DC’s Back in Black is still selling almost enough copies a year to qualify for a gold record. Last year while we were treated to dozens of sound-alike emo bands that didn’t sell many CDs, AC/DC’s landmark album managed to sell 440,000 copies in the US.

While [insert silly multi-worded name here] was struggling to attract the attention of TRL girls, other albums from long-ago were also moving pretty heavy numbers. Metallica’s jump to the commercial mainstream, aka The Black Album was added to the CD collections of 275,000 US music fans last year and Guns ‘N Roses debut which broke records when it was released in 1987 is still a hot seller, welcoming 113,000 more people to the jungle last year. And the album that killed “hair metal” and touched off the grunge trend of the early 90s (Nirvana’s Nevermind) is still going strong with 143,000 copies sold last year.

David Geffen should be proud to have two bands that he took a chance on still selling today and showing us why we need trendsetters and not trendfollowers running labels more than ever. On the other end of the spectrum, when you think of today’s blasé music scene, you might think of the “genius” of Clive Davis and while his “genius” isn’t selling record breaking amounts of CDs right now, he did manage to give us the best selling CD of 1986 in the form of Whitney Houston’s self-titled debut. However, like most things that Clive touches it may sell today but doesn’t have much of a shelf life (like real cheese) as Houston’s CD only manages to attract about 7,000 new people a year, easily beat by Radiohead’s “OK Computer” which turned on 94,000 additional people last year.

There is definitely a lesson to be learned here. But will the people that need to learn it the most, take heed? Probably not, as they are too busy trying to find clones for the few bands of today that manage to sell a decent amount of CDs. That’s when they are not working to shutdown online radio, installing rootkits on customers PCs and suing people.

UPDATE! Over on Canoe today they have posted the story Vintage Albums Still Rockin’ the Charts with more stats as to how everything from The Joshua Tree to Thriller are still raking in the sales.