Home RMW News What Is Old Is New: Back Catalog Sales Soar

What Is Old Is New: Back Catalog Sales Soar


According to a study from Nielsen, 2015 saw catalog sales edging out current releases. This comes even with the release of commercial blockbusters like Adele’s 25.

Nielsen collects information and stats on what people are listening to and watching. In this latest report, about what Americans buy and listen to, is a surprising revelation that for the first time, “old” music outsold “new” music in 2015.

Back catalog, or catalog, albums or tracks are anything older than 18 months by definition. In this instance, we’re looking at physical copies of music sold (CDs / vinyl) sales, and not digital versions.

It really is quite astonishing that older music overtook new releases like Adele’s 25. The album went on to sell 7.2 million copies in the last 6 weeks of 2015 in the U.S. alone.

But it’s true; CDs are back with a bang, and 2015 saw an amazing 125 million of them sold; creating $1.52 billion in revenue. Not to shabby indeed.

Let’s also keep in mind that those numbers are only the CDs that were tracked by Soundscan, and that CDs sold privately were not taken into consideration.

Digital album sales are still dominated by new sales rather than catalog sales. However, downloadable track sales of catalog songs beat out current track sales, as well.

If all this is true for 2015, then what will 2016 look like? With music legends like David Bowie, Merle Haggard, and Prince all dying in the first half of 2016, their album sales not only soared, but also dominated the charts. With just a quick look at the Billboard charts this week (2 weeks post-mortem), Prince is in the number one spot for
: Artist 100, Digital Songs, Catalog Albums, Tastemaker albums, Hot Rock Songs, Rock Digital Songs, R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs, Spotify Viral 50, and LyricFind US; not to mention that his songs and albums are scattered throughout the charts. The same went for Bowie in the weeks after his death.

Check out the chart showing catalog music leading new music in all categories of sales.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 7.33.00 PM

Old is new all over again.


BC long


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