Recorded music has come along way since it’s first inception and throughout the 20th century it morphed from medium to medium as the demand for greater quality, and outright consumer satisfaction, became higher and higher. Here’s a brief look at the evolution of music and the technology that supported it.
To all the kids out there, this will help explain what those large round disks are that you see in those pictures of DJs. Yeah, I’m talking about the LP (short for “Long Play”). These vinyl bad boys were developed throughout the early twentieth century and were first introduced commercially by Columbia Records in 1948. The technology was constantly improved upon in the race to increase the length of playing time and recording quality. Artists took full advantage, thus bringing in the era of the Album, as they could now create entirely themed pieces of art.
This king of the disco dance floor remained king until the unveiling of the Compact Cassette in 1962. The mediocre sound it first produced improved dramatically by the 1970’s but it dominated in the early 80’s as the more convenient and portable way of listening to music. Soon tape decks and boomboxes in turn became the best thing to have, not just in your house, but even in your car too.
The Turn of The Century
By the 90’s, tape would seem obsolete as the Compact Disc rose to power (No doubt you’ve seen one right? I mean…). It’s commercial release came in 1982 but by the end of the decade it surpassed the sales of both former number one’s. It moved beyond just audio with the ability to store data as well (‘Cause in a world without USB’s that had to have been an issue). It still remains the primary form of distribution for the Music industry today, but it faces and ever changing war with digital media
The fall of this industry Titan began in the early 2000’s as more and more people discovered this amazing thing called the internet and how easy it was and MP3’s became common place. Songs now had a 75 to 95% reduction in size, making it easier than ever to spread music online through peer-to-peer file sharing. They became the pain of Industry types everywhere as control slipped slowly out of their hands and into those of the consumer.
The Next Generation
Downloads soon became the norm as the Record labels buckled to the new technology, with ridiculous fear of another “Napster” ruling their decision. By 2012, downloadable music made up the majority of music sales with Apples iTunes reaping most of the reward. This has done little to stem the tide of Piracy as more and more consumers demand that music be “free” (I mean, in a perfect world maybe?) because, now that music doesn’t come in a physical format, it’s should truly be available anytime and anywhere.
That’s why (at the time of this post) I’d say that’s exactly where we’re headed. With streaming becoming more and more popular, independent artists have started taking back control now that they can reach billions of people online, often without even leaving their homes. Now the age old question of copyright is being called out. Mainly, again, it’s about control because the flow of revenue is not as two-dimensional as it once was.
No one entity holds the power anymore when it comes to the distribution of music. Vinyl records themselves saw a sudden revival with sales squashing 4 million in the US by 2015. I mean, it’s not just for Old people anymore. Tastes are always changing but why should it matter really. As long the music is good…somebody somehow is gonna wanna hear it. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below
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