Three Reasons Why Old Records Are Bigger Than Ever

Deep catalog diving

The news cycle has more of an effect on album sales than almost any music-centric promotional outlet. Two of the five top catalog albums of 2012's first six months had Whitney Houston, who died in February, at their core; her greatest-hits collection sold 818,000 copies, making it the fourth-best-selling album of the year so far (behind Adele, Lionel Richie, and One Direction), and the soundtrack to The Bodyguard sold 202,000 copies. With the decline of mass music-video outlets and the increasing conservatism of radio, not to mention the niche nature of music-centric media, the mainstream media is much better at getting the word out that, yes, music exists and is still available for purchase somewhere despite the lack of mall stores bearing that claim. Richie's new album, Tuskegee, on which he reworks old hits with current country stars, had its sales boosted by a TV special. And newer artists are engaging in this sort of cross-promotion as well; last week, the hotly tipped r&b singer Frank Ocean used his platform on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to announce that he was releasing his album on iTunes that night—a week before its official street date—thus allowing people who enjoyed his performance to engage in instant gratification. People do still like buying music, contrary to the naysayers and torrenting triumphalists; but it generally helps for them to know that they can still do so.

EDITOR'S NOTE: On Tuesday morning, after this issue went to press, 101.9 FM flipped back to a music-centric format.

Frank Ocean
Nabil Elderkin
Frank Ocean
Danny Clifford

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