Classic Rock Lags Behind In Digital Download Era

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Seems like there’s one corporation or another tracking just about every consumer-oriented event you can imagine these days, and downloads of digital music are no exception.

I was surprised to discover that the latest statistics on digital music downloads did not reflect all that favorably on classic rock. Well known stat trackers Nielsen/SoundScan have discovered that only 10 songs on the Top 200 downloaded songs were from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.

Personally, it’s hard for me to think of music from the 90’s as “classic,” unless it is a product of a classic group that was still making new music during that decade. When I see a 1996 Buick pass me on the street, I don’t think Classic Firebird “classic” but when I spot a 1983 Pontiac Firebird or a or a 1982 Chevy Monte Carlo (one of which provided me with great service for a good number of years!), I am much more inclined to think “classic.” I’ll refrain from talking about “Classic Coke,” since that’s a whole other story.

Getting back to music, which might be a good idea at this point, the lackluster popularity of classic tracks among the Top 200 downloads is perplexing to me for a number of reasons. After all, classic rock seems to be experiencing a resurgence in popularity in recent years. When I see high school kids sporting Led Zeppelin T-shirts and I can find three or four classic rock radio stations on the FM dial, I know that classic rock is far from dead.

That inspires the question: Why aren’t people downloading as much classic rock as its popularity might suggest?

Allow me to indulge in a little unscientific speculation. Perhaps classic rock fans, particularly the younger ones, who may be more likely to download music, have simply borrowed their parents’ old CDs and “ripped” the tracks from them  to put on their iPods and PCs. That’s one way to bring Led Zeppelin along when kids head out to wherever it is they head out to these days.

Then again, some of the most successful classic rock acts are still making new music, so why wouldn’t some of those tracks make it on the Top 200?

I suppose I could speculate about this for a few more paragraphs, but maybe I should just be glad that classic rock is still alive and well, which is evidenced by the fact that groups like Rush, Van Halen and Springsteen can still rock in front of sold out venues populated by enthusiastic fans, which by the way, include a good number of younger fans who were not even around when these bands hit their stride.

Among the classic songs that did manage to secure a slot on the Top 200 were Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Sweet Home Alabama.” There are of course, seven more that were considered “classic,” and if you’d like to see the entire list check it out on Yahoo! Music.

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