Music HistoryMusic Industry

A history of the record deal from 1850. has this look back about how recording deals have evolved since the dawn the music industry. Fascinating.

“Artists have always shaped music’s future, and tech has always shaped how they do it. When you retrace our industry’s steps, macro changes — the way songs are made, heard, valued, and ultimately exploited — start with patented inventions, clever innovations, and vertical integrations that shift creative norms & consumer behavior.

“Edison paved the way with the phonograph in 1877. Ever since, new technology has recalibrated the status quo. ‘Vinyl’ wasn’t a thing until vinylite plastic replaced brittle shellac. An album held little cultural or commercial value until the 12-inch came along. Singles drove the business until they didn’t until they did again. Each new step changed the music industry, and, subsequently, how it worked for artists.

“While record deals have been around since the early days, their structure, standards, and consequences have evolved. Throughout the past 100-plus years, however, one constant has held firm: The minds behind the music almost always walk away with less than the powers that be. Hop in the time machine and explore how we got here.”

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38452 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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