Classic Rock continues to be part of the conversation – a lot of conversations. And not just as it pertains to music, but also about pop culture and media trends. Its music is seemingly everywhere – on TV shows, in movies, in commercials, and of course, on turntables all over the world.
And now it looks like vinyl will outsell CDs this year for the first time since 1986.
Rolling Stone reports the R.I.A.A.'s recently released mid-year report shows that revenue from vinyl records was within shouting distance of CDs during the first six months of this year. The trends point to a reversal of musical fortune with vinyl coming out on top for all of 2019. That's an amazing stat, considering polyvinyl chloride records were all but extinct a couple decades ago.
While vinyl is still a small percentage of overall music sales – yes, it's all about streaming – the retro trend toward 33⅓ has been driven by core Classic Rock artists. In fact, Rolling Stone notes the Beatles sold 300,000 pieces of vinyl in 2018, while Floyd, Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Hendrix, Zeppelin, and Queen each broke the 100,000 threshold.
But now we're seeing Classic Rock becoming a topic – the subject of lists. Last week, Deadspin ran a staff survey to determine the top artists using Slack as their platform. These guys must be bored with the World Series, obviously finding the time to debate whether Tom Petty or Queen are worthy of top tier status.
Here's their Top 20 – ranked:
- David Bowie
- Fleetwood Mac
- Steely Dan
- Jimi Hendrix
- Black Sabbath
- Beach Boys (seriously?)
- Elton John
- Rolling Stones
- Bruce Springsteen
- Tom Petty
- Simon & Garfunkel
- Led Zeppelin
- Neil Young
- Pink Floyd
- King Crimson
The entire list (48 positions) is here.
(Interestingly, it was stories like the one above that motivated the new ownership team at Deadspin to issue a new policy to the editorial staff: Stick To Sports. And that led to the firing of one of the publication's editors.)
By the way, I did something similar with a Classic Rock staff many years ago. Some of the more jaded types couldn't believe the results of our music test. So, we ran parallel surveys – an artist ranking for the audience and an identical one for the staff. Yes, there were some big differences, and it helped me make my point.
That reminds me of something we frequently talk about here at Jacobs Media – better known as “Classic Rock Headquarters.” Our research – especially sitting through hundreds and hundreds of focus groups over the years – consistently shows most Classic Rock fans have a very clear idea of who's on their Mt. Rushmore – the four artists that mean the most to them.
It varies – often greatly – from person to person. I might select Eric Clapton, Lennon, Jimmy Page, and George Harrison. For someone else, it's Steven Tyler, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, and Tom Petty. And that's the beauty of it.
Way back in 2003, the late Tim Davis created the graphic that illustrated this point (right). Since then, many stations have asked the question, “Who are your Mt. Rushmore Classic Rock artists?”
Most audience members needs little time to craft their response, underscoring the fact that no other format in radio may be more artist-centric than Classic Rock. Fans intuitively can name their four most iconic artists, making this something of a conversation point over beers – or on the radio.
I thought of that the other day when Greg Strassell called me out on Facebook during a cross-country vacation.
Apparently making his first stop ever in Rapid City, South Dakota, Greg was a bit surprised when he looked out at this amazing national monument:
I don't know about you, but I can't wait until the Strassell family goes to Egypt. I've never been there myself, but I've been told that if the sun touches the Sphinx just right, you can get a glimpse of a certain familiar rock n' roll image.
The staff at Deadspin would feel a sense of vindication.
So, who's on YOUR Mt. Rushmore of Classic Rock?
Special thanks to Gary Rosenberg, who might stop reading Deadspin now.