Even with old music outselling new music, Adele remained the queen of record sales.
Even with old music outselling new music, Adele remained the queen of record sales.



For the First Time in History, Oldies Are Outselling New Music

Out with the old, in with the new, right? Well…not quite. Apparently music lovers threw that old phrase out the proverbial window and went HAM on the oldies last year. For the first time in history, the freshest jams were outsold by old albums—by 4.3 million copies, to be exact. That’s more than a bit shocking, considering the fact that Adele’s club-banger 25 sold over 7 million copies in the five weeks it was on sale last year, and accounted for 3.1 percent of all albums sold for the entire year. Then again, the astronomical success of that album did help shake the dust off of her freshman and sophomore EPs, 19 and 21. Both albums reentered the Billboard 200 and by the time the clock struck midnight on NYE, Adele’s entire catalogue had sold 8 million copies.

As the year in music came to a close and Nielsen tallied who bought what, nobody could’ve expected that catalog music—or music older than eighteen months old—would reign supreme. It wasn’t all doo-wop and twists, though. New music did win out in digital sales, but that’s probably because your grandparents still refuse to use those technology machines. So, why the resurgence of classics over new tunes? The answer may come down to the act of buying music, which is that wild thing your rich friend does when he snootily talks about the sanctity of supporting the music business.

Girl, put your records on. Tell me your fav song or you're not a real fan.
Girl, put your records on. Tell me your favorite song.

One of the biggest boosts to albums sales didn’t come from CDs or cassettes but rather from those big black disks your friend in Williamsburg has stacked up to serve as a pedestal for their succulent collection. The first half of 2015 alone saw vinyl go all Jesus Christ Superstar and reemerge with a 52 percent increase in sales. One of the top sellers? Pink Floyd’s OG classic Dark Side of the Moon. It sold 50,000 copies on vinyl in 2015 and probably caused at least twelve kids to realize the magic of classic rock. On the flip side of that, this was the year that streaming reigned supreme as Apple Music and Tidal launched and took on Spotify. Streaming services increased over 83 percent year over year with 317.2 billion songs streamed.

Streaming is only set to get bigger this year but with new music from Kanye West, Rihanna, The XX, James Blake, M.I.A., and more set to drop, physical album sales look ready to take back the throne.

Stay tuned to Milk for more statistic-crunching music news.

Images via Getty and Tumblr. 

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