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 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 4:32 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

In the recent threat titled “Varese CD Club?”, Thierry Schreurs wondered about what the average age of current soundtrack customers is. I wrote a reply there, but I think the subject actually warrants its own thread. (Original Thread: https://filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=148399&forumID=1&archive=0&pageID=1&r=766#bottom )

Because when you think about it, it’s not just the average age of current soundtrack customers, but what is interesting is what the average age of the current music buyer as opposed to the current music listener is. Most people listen to and enjoy some kind of music, but even in earlier times, only some people regularly spent a sizable amount of their income on buying more and more recordings, be it on vinyl or CD. Many people were just fine with whatever music played on the radio, without building a large record collection over the years. And nowadays? Nowadays a monthly fee gets you access to "everything" (or at least millions of titles).

In our “Holy Grail” Thread, I stated that my “holy grails” have (fortunately for me) long been released. They used to be stuff like RETURN OF THE JEDI, ALIEN, THE OMEGA MAN, LOGAN’S RUN, THE FLIM-FLAM MAN, BANDOLERO, etc, etc, etc…. All of these have been released over the years, even grails such as Stanley Myer’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. Any exciting music that is released nowaday is pretty much icing on the cake for me, there are few “wants”.

But there are still a lot of interesting scores unreleased, that could and should be released and re-released and re-recorded, titles by Gil Melle, Fred Karlin, Billy Goldenberg or Dominic Frontiere, classic scores by Hugo Friedhofer or Victor Young, and, and… and the question is: will they ever and can they ever be released?

I don’t think it’s just that younger people don’t know these composers or movies – there are many of us today who listen to music by Alfred Newman or Miklós Rózsa or Bernard Herrmann, even though the movies these composers scored were all “before our time”. Why should not the same hold true for other composers, if their music stands the test of time.

But restoring or re-recording classic soundtracks costs a lot of time, passionate work, and money… money that can only be made if there is some revenue to be made.

And that leads to this title’s question:

Is Buying Music Still A Thing?

Now I know it is for many of us here. I know there are plenty of people who post here who still buy music. Me included. But that’s perhaps because we started our music collections long before there were other options. And I guess our average age here may be 40+. How many people regularly buy music whose age is twentysomething, or even thirtysomething?

It's not just that younger people don't know older movies or the composers, it's that younger people tend not to actually "buy" any music anymore.

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Edit for clarification: With "buying" music I am referring to actually buying a copy of the music that belongs to you, be it on an album on LP, CD, or digital download. I contrast that with streaming, where you do not actually buy music, but rather pay to get access to music. (It’s basically "leasing" music.) Either way you pay, but the former gets you the music you bought "forever" for a one time fee, the latter gets you access to millions of albums of all genres for as long as you pay your subscription.
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Most people, the way I experience it, listen to their music via streaming services. They use Spotify, or if they care about sound quality services like Qobuz/Tidal, and what you find there is enormous. True, not all and perhaps not even most classic film scores are there (though many are), but all the newer soundtracks anyway.

Over the years, I have accumulated a collection of classical, jazz, film, pop etc. scores, most of them I bought on CD, some of which I bought as downloads, all of which are on my NAS and I can access them with various devices. I love it that way and would not want to miss that. I sill buy a lot of music (I just took advantage of Quartet's Sale and bought a bunch of CDs, and took advantage of Qobuz' August sale and bought another 20 recordings or so.)
If there is a recording I really want and I really find terrific, I want to have it and add it to my collection, so I buy it… on CD, or as lossless/high-res download.

But if I started out now, would I really turn to "buying" music? It is hard to justify why one should do this. With a streaming subscription you get access to millions of titles, on Tidal and Qobuz in excellent sound quality (CD quality and up). So what would be the point of buying any music?

Sure, recordings can come and go, be withdrawn or not, I know, but stuff like that has so far rarely happend with music (much more with movies), and most people would just listen to something else then and not be too bothered if a particular album vanished.

And streaming is a problem for niche releases, classical music, film scores, etc.

Because streaming is, unfortunately, not financially attractive for classical music and film scores. The largest chunk of the money always goes to the top stars. As long as that doesn't change, I don't see how classical and film score labels can make much money streaming. That’s because the revenue from streaming services tends to be distributed unfairly.
If I go out and spend $20.- on a new Intrada or Lalaland or Tadlow album, that money goes to Intrada, Lalaland, Tadlow, and they then distribute it from there.

On the other hand, If somebody pays $20.- a month and listens to three Mahler symphonies and a Beethoven Quartet and somebody else pays $20.- and plays Beoncé day and night, $39.- of those $40.- will go to Beoncé. Tat's just one of the problems streaming services have, distributing the money according to the number of "plays", though classical music lovers tend to play less, more concentrated and selected music, whereas pop music lovers tend to play music lots of times in the day, while commuting, wherever...)

What we still enjoy today, which is specialty film score labels who still release excellent and well done recordings with liner notes etc, I see now as an outdated distribution model that I am (pleasantly, by all means) surprised survived this long.

I think streaming revenue must buy and large be reformed, so that the distribution of money takes into account not just the actual "plays", but also allocates the money based on who listens to what. That's not the solution of all problems, but a step into making it fairer for labels that cater to smaller interest groups, like classical listeners or film score listeners.

And of course I hope people will continue to "buy" music in some form or another. (But by and large it's hard to see why they would.)

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 5:28 AM   
 By:   Jason LeBlanc   (Member)

For most of the people who will see this thread? Yea.

For most of the people on planet Earth? No.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 5:35 AM   
 By:   Rameau   (Member)

Yeah it's still a thing, but nothing like it used to be, & getting smaller all the time. The young people I know, relations & friends kids (& grandchildren), after a bit of LP buying (very trendy at the time) now stream all their music. I suppose it's to do with age & generation, but I do like having "stuff" around: books, CDs, DVD & Blu-rays. I have got Netflix now (my first toe into streaming), & it is nice to enjoy something that I haven't had to buy & then store after I've seen it. It seems now that a lot of soundtracks from some pretty big films are just streamed, but then they are just soundtracks, when a really big act decides not to bother with a CD release, that will be the beginning of the end. There's rumours on the internet that a remastered set (with extras) of The Beatles, Revolver is being released in October, & I'm quite excited about that, but I'd be a lot less so if it was just a streaming job.

I'd think that the likes of Intrada, La-La Land & Quartet could give you a good idea of what's happening.

There's still a handful of LPs that I used to love which are still awaiting a CD release, & I do wonder if they'll make it before it's all over.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 6:40 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

For most of the people who will see this thread? Yea.

For most of the people on planet Earth? No.


Yes, that much is clear. But I mean, buying music is obviously something fewer and fewer people do, while those people that (still) do buy music are buying fewer and fewer recordings (either because they already own everything, or because what they want is not released).

Presumably, most people who post here at FSM probably still buy music, but those numbers are likely do go down, and even (once) avid soundtrack collectors have said that they only buy once in a blue moon a physical CD anymore.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 7:11 AM   
 By:   Timothy J. Phlaps   (Member)

How many people regularly buy music whose age is twentysomething, or even thirtysomething?

I'm thirty something and have absolutely refused to get into streaming/downloads in any serious way (Occassional download if there's absolutely no other option, but even then, I've got to REALLY want it). I've gone through enough crashed computers and burned out hard drives to never put my entire trust into digital storage, and all these platform-hopping licensing shenanigans I want no part of.

I doubt it's gonna be a seismic shift, but with WBDiscovery removing some streaming exclusives from HBO Max for the tax write-off, I think more people are gonna start seeing physical copies as a more sound investment in things you might love and want to return to in the future.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 7:30 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

I don't think "buying" is what you're talking about exactly, since subscribing to a streaming service is buying music.

But if you're talking physical media, I don't know anybody of any age who buys it anymore, besides the people I "know" through this site – with the exception of my teenage daughter, who buys vinyls. I would doubt that she will ever own a CD.

I still buy CDs, and will continue to, but I get no thrill from the physical aspect of them. Honestly, that's become my least favorite aspect of them.

As for the concern about crashed computers, I would only say that anybody who doesn't back up their files (music, photos, financial records, etc.) is nuts. Do you keep printed copies of all your photos? I have a good friend with a lot of music (quite a few soundtracks) whose house burned down a few years ago. What he still owns: His digital music files. What's gone forever: His CDs.

As for "platform-hopping licensing shenanigans," has any major service had any form of DRM in the last decade? Am I forgetting something?

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 7:39 AM   
 By:   Timothy J. Phlaps   (Member)

As for the concern about crashed computers, I would only say that anybody who doesn't back up their files (music, photos, financial records, etc.) is nuts.

All my digital files are duplicated on four separate hard drives. All my music's on my phone too.

To be fair, it's been less of a concern since I went Mac only. In the last fifteen years I've only had one major crash and I don't think I lost anything.

As for "platform-hopping licensing shenanigans," has any major service had any form of DRM in the last decade? Am I forgetting something?

I'm referring to streaming more than downloads here, although Apple's still got some form of DRM on their films. Bought a film about two years ago, tried to re-encode it in SD to put on my phone and it wouldn't let me.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 7:51 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

Apple's still got some form of DRM on their films.

I should have specified I meant for music.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 7:54 AM   
 By:   Rameau   (Member)

I still buy CDs, and will continue to, but I get no thrill from the physical aspect of them. Honestly, that's become my least favorite aspect of them.

Ha, the complete opposite of me.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 8:25 AM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

Barely anyone buys CD players anymore. So obviously they aren't going to buy CDs.
If people don't own a horse, they probably don't have much use for hay.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 8:25 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

LLL's resent 5000 edition reissues of E.T. and CEOT3K say's yes. But its always been a niche thing. Even in the days of vinyl I bet most people listened to the radio. How many albums did the average Joe or Jane have in the 60's or 70's? 10, 15, 20 tops? Now its streaming. Streaming just replaced radio.

Its getting harder and harder to keep a collection on the computer. First Apple removed the optical drive now the internal hard drives are tiny. I really don't know what I'm going to do next time I need to buy another iMac. I know you can buy external devices but that just adds to the cost and clutter. Were going backwards not forwards with computer technology. The writing is on the wall as far as keeping a digital collection locally. I'll never use the Cloud.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 8:28 AM   
 By:   Timothy J. Phlaps   (Member)

Were going backwards not forwards with computer technology. The writing is on the wall as far as keeping a digital collection locally. I'll never use the Cloud.

I was in the market for a new phone this month but I found out that very few come with expandable memory anymore, so I'm sticking with my current one, cracked screen and all.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 8:50 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

I don't think "buying" is what you're talking about exactly, since subscribing to a streaming service is buying music.

But if you're talking physical media, I don't know anybody of any age who buys it anymore, besides the people I "know" through this site – with the exception of my teenage daughter, who buys vinyls. I would doubt that she will ever own a CD.



Oh, ok, so there is no misunderstanding let me clarify: with "buying" music I meant buying an actual copy of, say, an album, regardless of whether it is a download or a CD.

"Streaming" is more like "leasing" music, you get it as long as your contract (subscription) is running. If you buy a CD or a download, you have the copy of music regardless of where you bought it or how it will be licensed. You have that copy "forever". And "buying" is what actually makes money for niche labels. Except it seems people don't buy downloads any more than they buy CDs.

I have disregarded DRM "bought" music, as that seems to be a lesser thing these days. (In music. I am fully aware that that is for most parts how digitally distributed movies are "bought". The withdrawal of Studio Canal movies from Sony Playstation, regardless of whether people have "bought" them, shows the problems with DRM stuff. Personally, I don't buy stuff that is DRM tied to something.)

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 8:59 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

LLL's resent 5000 edition reissues of E.T. and CEOT3K say's yes. But its always been a niche thing. Even in the days of vinyl I bet most people listened to the radio. How many albums did the average Joe or Jane have in the 60's or 70's? 10, 15, 20 tops? Now its streaming. Streaming just replaced radio.

Yes, our niche has been remarkably stable... there is still an interest in high quality film score CDs, and I am very happy for it.
However, CEOT3K sold 500,000 LP copies in less than a year when it was released back in 1977. Sure, it was a new movie and all that, and the only way to listen to the score. But we're talking half a million copies just in the US within months. And that, as you rightly point out, was even though buying music has always been a niche thing and also was in 1977.
But both Lalaland's releases of E.T. and CEOT3K are exemplary presentations of classic masterpieces of film music, I am very happy to have them. Everyone should have them.


Its getting harder and harder to keep a collection on the computer. First Apple removed the optical drive now the internal hard drives are tiny. I really don't know what I'm going to do next time I need to buy another iMac. I know you can buy external devices but that just adds to the cost and clutter. Were going backwards not forwards with computer technology. The writing is on the wall as far as keeping a digital collection locally. I'll never use the Cloud.


I don't keep my music directly on my computer, it's all kept on my NAS and external hard drives.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 9:13 AM   
 By:   johnonymous86   (Member)

Mid 30s here and yep, just bought a few CDs the other day via Discogs. I might be in the minority but I do still listen to the music in CD form too, I don't just rip it and shelve. It sounds good in the car when I'm commuting and is easier and safer than fussing with the MP3 player. I enjoy picking out what scores I'm going to put in the old CD case I keep in my car every so often. It's become a ritual for me and I'm sad to think my next car will very likely not include a CD player.

I enjoy having the physical copy if it's a score I REALLY LOVE just based on experience--for example, I ripped The 'Burbs Deluxe to my external but sold the physical copy and I honestly still regret that. There are a few others that I feel that way about too.

I suppose it's a nostalgia thing? I know as people get older, nostalgia becomes more and more appealing.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 9:13 AM   
 By:   keky   (Member)

The physical aspect is very important for me - but only in case of film scores. I still buy relatively lots of CDs and whenever I listen to a score I can only enjoy it thoroughly if I put on the CD in the CD player and press the "Play" button. So owning - and using! - the physical product is an absolutely different experience than only have the music as files on a hard-drive or usb drive.

As for pop/rock music download is OK. Because most of the times I only listen to them while driving or sometimes at work.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 9:38 AM   
 By:   RynoSmithers   (Member)

Mid 30s here and yep, just bought a few CDs the other day via Discogs. I might be in the minority but I do still listen to the music in CD form too, I don't just rip it and shelve. It sounds good in the car when I'm commuting and is easier and safer than fussing with the MP3 player. I enjoy picking out what scores I'm going to put in the old CD case I keep in my car every so often. It's become a ritual for me and I'm sad to think my next car will very likely not include a CD player.

I enjoy having the physical copy if it's a score I REALLY LOVE just based on experience--for example, I ripped The 'Burbs Deluxe to my external but sold the physical copy and I honestly still regret that. There are a few others that I feel that way about too.

I suppose it's a nostalgia thing? I know as people get older, nostalgia becomes more and more appealing.


Yes! Same! CD's in the car are awesome! What six or seven cd's am I going to listen to and keep in the car for the next couple of weeks?! My wife's car has bluetooth, and it works fine, but the cd in the actual cd player still sounds much better in our cars. it's always tricky getting the right "input" volume via bluetooth and volume level of car stereo.

Also, the physical aspect of the CD is one of my favorite parts unless for some weird reason the artist or soundtrack skimps on the information. Pouring through the lyrics and "thank yous" or comments from the composer or director is a ritual for me with a new album. Might be nostalgia, but I'm not going to stop now...

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 9:55 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

I'm a bit surprised people still enjoy CDs in their car, because that's where the physical aspect of discs seems to be at its most disturbing. My wife was worried when she bought a new car that it didn't have a CD player anymore, now she will never go back. My car still has a CD player, but I never use it.
I have currently about 400 albums I'm my car I can easily access via the mounted display, just a few fingertips, (the music is on an inserted USB stick).
I seldom used CDs in the car before though, I was always worried about scratches or the heat, so I used to make CDRs for car listening back in the day.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 10:15 AM   
 By:   KeV McG   (Member)

I will never buy a download.
I just come from a different time (I'm 57 now and was buying vinyl since I was a kid...then CDs from around 1987).
While the labels continue to go to the effort of pressing CDs and giving us nice packaging, I will continue to support them with my quids (provided it's a score I like, that is).
I still get a child-like buzz when a package or parcel arrives with some new CDs.
My collection is too big and needs pruning, but that hasn't stopped me from still buying more and more.
It's an obsession, I guess.

 
 Posted:   Aug 11, 2022 - 10:41 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

This month I bought about a dozen CDs and about 20 or so downloads, I would have to check the exact numbers... especially of newer recordings, I tend to prefer a high-res recording with a digital booklet over a CD (I just don't need any more "stuff"... unless it's really cool.)

PS: I bought my last LP and my first CD 1987. No, my next to last LP. My last LP I just bought this month.


I'm like SchiffyM there, unless it's really a some special production, the physical aspect of the CD doesn't mean much to me, and I have no problem doing without that.

 
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