Music Industry

Published on March 6th, 2019 | by Alan Cross


This chart shows how drastically music industry revenues have changed and shifted over the last 40 years.

For the first sixty-some years of the recorded music industry’s existence, everyone was fine with flat rotating discs played on a turntable. But the 60s gave us 8-tracks and cassettes, followed by CDs in the early 80s. From there, the number of ways music could be delivered to consumers exploded.

Not only did we have MiniDiscs, DCC and DAT players for physical media, but we also had MP3s, digital downloads, and ringtones. Each had vied for their moment in the sun with varying degrees of success. Now we’re in the age of streaming.

CDs drove the industry to revenue highs 1999-2000 before the Internet wrecked that party. Now more than 75% of label money comes from streaming.

Statista has created this chart showing the rise and fall of the fortunes of various formats since 1978.

The industry has a long way to go before it reaches the heights of 1999-2000, but at least the line on the graph is pointing the right way.


About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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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