Are the Big-Box Chains Censoring Our Music?

Today’s Young People Are Finding Their Choices Limited by the Retail Giants

by Olivia Sanderfoot, age 14

One of the many joys of music is its many different styles and genres. Just like there’s a book for everyone, there’s a musical style for everyone. Some people prefer jazz, others like rap. Artists like John Mayer and Jamie Cullum are adored by some, while others would much rather jam to Green Day. Unfortunately, today’s big retail stores are limiting the variety of music offered to the public.

Stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy-- the “big-box“chains--are responsible for 65 percent of physical CD sales, up from just 20 percent a decade ago. Unlike independent music stores, big-box chains don’t need to make money selling music. The reason is the majority of their profits come from the sale of other products. Therefore, these big-box stores only have to market music they know will sell. This process limits the variety of music available to consumers.
Deejays and music critics were once responsible for the shaping of musical trends, but now big-box chains have become
the new “tastemakers.” Big-box chains and their executives decide what’s in and what’s out, often ignoring fantastic and interesting music during their decision-making process.
Not only is classical and jazz music not as prominent in big-box chains, but up-and- coming pop artists are also finding it difficult to make their way to the shelves of big-box chains. Even the Beatles are often represented with only one or two CDs.
The stores are also involved in censoring music. Wal-Mart, for example, refuses to sell any CD with a parental advisory label. Therefore, major record labels create “clean” versions of albums in order to sell them at the big-box chains.
It is important for people, especially young people, to recognize all kinds of music, not just popular songs by well- known artists. Broadway soundtracks, independent artists, jazz, and world music are all interesting and all have something to offer. They just need a little more limelight.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]

What an interesting story. As a young adult and a musician myself, I agree--it is definitely important for young people to get to know all kinds of music! Great work, Olivia. – Aarushi A. , UW-Madison (2017-01-10 17:21)
Nice story Olivia. I see you have a lot of interest in music. – Chris Cruz , Wright Middle School (2017-01-10 17:22)