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A Golden Future posted on October 17th, 2022

A Golden Future

By Brian Wheeler

A picture containing dishware

Description automatically generated What’s happening with gold these days? As a person who grew up with music that is now considered ‘oldies’ by most standards, I’m pleased to see music from my formative years enjoy a resurgence in popularity. For me, these songs never stopped being relevant. Yeah, I know how it goes. Newer generations hear you mumbling about the music from your day and you hear “that’s nice, Grandpa…let’s get you to bed”.

But wait! What is this I see? Kate Bush enjoying a renaissance thanks to an appearance on Stranger Things? Even for fans of alternative music back in the day, Kate was never the darling she is right now. I, for one, think IT’S ABOUT TIME. The same phenomenon caused a spike in interest after Metallica’s Master of Puppets was used in another pivotal scene in the same popular show. A whole new generation of fans have been baptized with a simple and apt placement of a song. That’s brilliant placement of some great music.

Is an appearance on a hot television show the sole reason for the comeback of ‘vintage’ music? Evidence says otherwise. According to an article published in The Atlantic , a study showed that ‘Old songs’ now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market. Other factors also come into play. Large libraries are getting sold to the highest bidder for tens, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars. That music then becomes available for use in soundtracks, commercials and other modes of consumption. Savvy DJs also use gold cuts in their presentations, bolstered by the knowledge that these songs filled dance floors for decades. Let’s face it: we all know a good song or sample can go a long way. I recently attended a sold-out show at First Avenue in Minneapolis that was brimming with twenty-somethings. Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” began playing over the system prior to the headliner and the floor quickly became a singalong as the awaiting crowd bounced in unison. That song is THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OLD. Yet, it somehow still sounded fresh.

There is something to be said for good music being timeless music. I truly believe quality and not always popularity has a lot to do with songs that are timeless or at least timely.

What can we learn from this? I think a couple lessons can be learned. I believe presentation makes a big difference. Sure, good music sells itself, but an enthusiastic and informative jock that knows how to push that button and pique the listener’s interest surely can’t hurt. I also think finding a way to showcase your format and acknowledging the depth can pay dividends as well. Program Director Garett Michaels of 91X in San Diego recently embraced the station’s four decades of deep alternative roots during an epic A to Z marathon presentation and had a very positive response. In fact, the response was so positive that the station re-positioned their programming to celebrate that rich heritage and colorful tapestry that has graced their airwaves since 1983.

Can celebrating our roots be the ticket to a rich future? Time will tell. It can no longer be ignored that the music that ushered us through our youth and adulthood is now striking a chord with a whole new generation of listeners. Keep sharing the gold, there’s plenty to go around.