“The world has changed…” Galadriel might have been talking about Middle-earth, or just the U.S. music industry. I was born in 1972, so I still remember turntables and 8-track players un-ironically. Now my entire (lossless) music collection lives on a two-terabyte hard drive and follows me anywhere I go. Lo-fi or hi-fi, my listening experience includes laptops and pocked-sized DACs capable of 24-bit/96kHz conversion, wired to studio monitors or piped to devices like my Apple TV, palm-sized Bluetooth speakers or other nearby computers. With a few taps on my smartphone, I can summon just about any song and listen through headphones or beam the stream to a wireless receiver like my car’s audio system. Records, tapes, CDs — they’ve become the abstraction.
If you want to visualize part of that journey starting in 1973, Digital Music News rolled up its sleeves, reached into the Recording Industry Association of America’s shipments and revenue database and pulled out a trove of stats rendered as pie charts, then chained those charts together, year by year, to form one great, slowly cycling, occasionally Pac-Man-like music industry time machine.
According to DMN, the data is strictly U.S., and each pie represents 100% of total recording revenue. If you’d rather see the images one at a time, DMN has that covered, too.
40 Years of Music Industry Change, In 40 Seconds or Less… [Digital Music News]