Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins) said something recently in an interview which I found interesting.
"Stevie Nicks is one of my favorite songwriters, one of my favorite singers of all time.
"The world should be begging her for more new songs. She's walking this planet, she still sings great, she still looks great.
"It's like, 'Hey, can you play 'Rhiannon' one more time?'"
It got me thinking. Do people just want to hear the classics from these artists? Well, let's look at the album sales of "Fleetwood Mac"
It was the second biggest album of 1976. In 1986, Fleetwood Mac was certified 5x platinum by the RIAA representing shipments of five million units in the United States alone.
Now, let's look at Stevie Nicks last studio album "In your Dreams"
The album spent 16 weeks within the Billboard 200 and has sold 199,000 copies in the U.S. as of May 2014. Critics called this her best collection of songs since the 80's.
Let's take a look at some other examples. How bout Red Hot Chill Peppers?
Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released on September 24, 1991, the same day as Nirvana's breakthrough album Nevermind. It was certified gold just over two months later on November 26, 1991, and certified platinum on April 1, 1992;
As of June 2017 one year after it's release, The Getaway has sold 463,000 units in the United States and over one and a half million copies worldwide. Still a big seller by today's standards but nowhere near the same numbers as previous releases.
Metallica are one of the few who we could consider at the top of the "rock band" chain and even their sales have dropped in years.
The Black Album sold 598,000 copies in its first week
Hardwired to self Destruct sold 291,000 album-equivalent units in its first week,
Is the popularity of these artists down? Not really if you look at how well these artists do when they are touring. Music just isn't selling like it use to.
Stevie Nicks revealed that she is reluctant to record new material as she feels “people aren't willing to pay for artists' work. Ozzy Osbourne felt the same and said in an interview last year"why record music when people can just download it?" Roger Daltrey is another artist who is reluctant to record new music. Many artists have shared the same sentiment and if you ask me, It's an absolute tragedy when great artists no longer feel it necessary to create new art.
However, some have adopted another business model to combat the rise of piracy in the music industry and decline in sales where the new album supports the tour in place of the tour supporting the new album.
Back in 2013, Soundwave Festival was still one of the great festivals we had here in Australia and the mighty Iron Maiden were headlining. The show consisted of the Maiden classics "Hallowed be thy name" and "The Trooper" and new tracks from the album "The Final Frontier." When the band launched into the classic songs, the crowd went wild, when they played new material, it was "crickets chirping" I can't count how many times I've seen a similar scenario at a show.
Paul Mccartney just a few months ago was 7 songs into a set playing all the classics remarked
"You know whenever we play something new, we always get just blank stares from you guys but we are gonna play it anyway"
There's just no way Mccartney, Fleetwood Mac, Metallica, Chillis, Maiden or The Smashing Pumpkins could get away with playing a show without putting in the hits. I regularly play cover gigs along the coastline of Australia and often find myself playing with a different band every weekend, you know what doesn't change? The songs.
You can bet I'm going to play songs like "I saw her standing there", "Dreams", "Enter Sandman" or "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" nearly every gig
So what's going on here? Does new music suck? I don't think so at all.
People are just switched off to new music without even giving it a try.
Some years ago I was talking to a friend about Stryper and their new album.at the time "Reborn" I thought it was great and was trying to recommend it as he hadn't heard it. All I kept getting from him was
"Oh, I like their old stuff man"
I just couldn't get through to him. He was completely set on the old songs and wouldn't open his mind and ears to checking out a new album from a band he's a fan of.
I have a theory, that it's purely pscyhological. This is where people associate old albums with fond memories. e.g. Meeting their partner, college days, a happy time in the life. Some people cannot fathom their life being better than their glory days so therefore, the new music mustn't be as good as well.
The truth? Absolute rubbish. Our best days are ahead of us and new music is exciting.
You know what? The classics will always be classics, the hits should have a place in a live set but I want NEW GREAT MUSIC in my player and at shows when they tour. I cheered loudly when Iron Maiden played :"The Talisman" from "The Final Frontier" in 2013. It was a brilliant performance.
Also, I'm sick of Iron Maiden playing The Trooper. (they might very well be sick of playing it themselves)
Artists are still making great new music. It's out there being made every day but you and I have to open our ears and minds.
Support the artist, buy the music!