Will lack of curiosity kill the catalogue?

Manic Street Preachers

Looking back over the remarkable career of the Manic Street Preachers, as we do in this week’s cover story, it’s clear that a little indulgence can go a long way.

Many record labels would have dropped the Manics after their first couple of brilliant-but-under-performing albums. Many more would have let them go after they lost their way following the paydirt of Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours.

That Columbia and Rob Stringer stuck with them through thick and thin is commendable, but also means they now have an incredible catalogue of rock classics at their disposal. And, with catalogue now more important than ever, the decision to stand by their Manics looks smarter by the day. Rock might be off to a slow start on streaming, but as consumers migrate there, the opportunities for such songs could be limitless. 

 

A new release can now boost streaming numbers across an artist’s history

 

The same could be said of Kylie Minogue, who launched her comeback last week with a live show that showed the enduring versatility of many of her previous hits, even if hers have been recorded by a variety of labels. Such acts may not sell albums in the quantities they once did – although the signs on both of their new records look very positive – but a new release can now boost streaming numbers across an artist’s history.

Assuming streaming is here to stay as the dominant format, that raises interesting questions about the future. In recent years, few new artists have received the unstinting backing that the Manics and Kylie enjoyed from their respective teams, while albums are likely to form part of the plan for fewer and fewer pop stars going forward. Breaking a new act may be harder than ever, but it's also more vital than it's ever been.

With the good times coming back to the business, it’s to be hoped that some of that gut instinct backing might also return. After all, if we don’t produce new artists with careers to rival Nicky Wire and co, we won’t produce catalogues to compare either. So indulge yourselves, it’s later than you think.

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