Nostalgia and Music

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

As the year wraps up, it’s exciting to peruse various trend reports and year-end outlook posts. They give you an understanding of what thought leaders and institutions think is slated to make the biggest impact in 2019. We combine this data and discussion with our own research to arrive at a fully formulated idea of what Nue thinks is next.

One thing that is becoming surprisingly relevant in our future-focused world is nostalgia. That’s why when UTA’s Larry Vincent asked me to go on his podcast, “The Findings Report,” to discuss nostalgia’s relationship to music, I jumped at the chance. Larry’s done a tremendous job producing TFR. The episode dropped this week.

Most people inherently recognize the connection between nostalgia and music. During our teenage years, for instance, music plays a central role in soundtracking formative memories. Of course, that relationship doesn’t end after senior prom. Music is constantly helping us remember where we were, who we were with, and where we fit in society. Here are four reasons why I think nostalgia is so crucial right now in music & culture:

1) We no longer chase youth in the abstract, we chase our own childhoods. The more new information we’re introduced to (now at an all-time high), the higher the premium on old information becomes. Whether it’s sampling a classic rap track for a new banger (the latest Meek Mill record is a great example) or remaking a movie (Mary Poppins, anyone?) turning the old new again is a way to stay in touch with where we came from.

2) Nostalgia plays into meme culture, too. Take a piece of content, reinterpret it in a fresh way, and retain the reminiscent qualities from the original piece. It’s 2018, so the lifespan of a memory or what qualifies as nostalgic has definitely shortened. I call the short-term nostalgia phenomena “Net-stalgia.” I mean, #TBT can be as recent as last week!

3) When times feel turbulent, people look to the past for comfort. Our environment (social, political, climate, etc.) is volatile right now and it’s often tough to tell if we’ll all be better off in the end. The good old days, if you can cling to them, are guaranteed.

4) Lastly, nostalgia is a smart way to market. It gets young people prepped for future engagement (college students are enthusiastic, avid music lovers developing musical tastes that will stick with them for a lifetime) and it flatout sells tickets. Look at the biggest touring acts of the year: U2, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Guns ‘N Roses, Roger Waters, and Metallica. Notice a common theme?

The nostalgia pendulum swings about every 20 years, which is why the 90’s are all the rage right now. People are dressing in 90’s fashion while late 80’s and 90’s acts like New Kids On The Block are headlining arenas. We’ll get another few years of the 90’s and then it’s on to the 2000’s. Remember Y2K? Drake, always ahead of the curve, styled his birthday party this year around the early 2000’s theme and I expect a lot more of that over the next few years. Hope you still have your throwback jerseys handy…

Also published on Medium.