More Margaret Thatcher: What the Music World Was Like When She Was in Power

Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of the UK in May 1979 and ruled until November 1990.  Digital Music News recalls what the music industry was like back in 1987.

–Cassettes accounted for more than half (53.2 percent) of recorded music sales (according to RIAA figures).  But CDs were rising fast: discs accounted for 28.6 percent in ’87, and would soon power the largest expansion the recording industry had ever witnessed.  And while Thatcher was as the height of power, vinyl LPs and 45s were slipping towards oblivion.  

–The ‘suggested list retail price’ of a CD in 1987 was $15.61 (about 10.22 pound sterling by today’s equivalent), according to the RIAA.  A cassette album was about half of that.  

–There were 6 major, global labels: Warner Music Group, EMI Music, CBS Records (soon to be Sony Music Entertainment in a few years), Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), PolyGram, and MCA Records.   

Wild, huh?  And there’s more!


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.

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