MESSAGE TO RECORD COMPANIES: OLD PEOPLE BUY MUSIC TOO!
Take a look at Billboard's album chart this week and you'll find 65-years-young BOB DYLAN's MODERN TIMES sitting pretty at #1 -- his first chart-topper since 1975 -- with a healthy 192,000 copies sold. A few weeks ago, 74-years-old-if-he-were-still-living JOHNNY CASH's AMERICAN V hit the top, becoming his first #1 since 1969. And on a slightly more sickening note, ageless wonder BARRY MANILOW's GREAT SONGS OF THE FIFTIES recently rang the bell.
What do these three albums have in common? Well, not only are all three made by members of the Geritol set, but a good chunk of their audience has enlarged prostates, not myspace.com pages. Sure, Dylan's got that hip iTunes commercial, and the Man In Black became cool among twentysomethings again in the '90s. But do you really think the people buying these records are the same teens that the major labels are targeting with fly-by-night acts like Danity Kane and Paris Hilton? Not friggin' likely.
While the major labels scurry after high school kids and their 99-cent downloads, old folks (read: over 30) are forking over $15-20 for CDs of artists who not only appeal to their demographic, but -- in the case of Dylan and Cash, at least -- are making worthwhile music that will last longer than the single's run on the charts. And since these artists make ALBUMS, not singles surrounded by filler, fans are more likely to buy the whole album than download a track or two. So what can we infer from all this?
Old people like music.
Old people have more money than their teenage kids.
Old people are too damn lazy to find a friend who already has the CD so they can burn a copy, or to search the Web for a site where they can illegally download the album for free.
Old people buy albums as opposed to singles. And $10-20 is more than 99 cents.
Make good music that old people can get into, and they will buy it.
Make bad music that young people are supposed to like, and they may not buy it. Jessica Simpson is the most talked-about human being on the planet, and her album sold about half of what Dylan's moved.
People aren't as stupid as the record companies seem to think they are.