The Music Industry Throughout the Years

The music industry has had its ups and downs and is currently thriving through the technological advancements that connect artists and listeners across the globe. Let’s take a look at the music industry throughout the years and how it became what it is today!

Back in the 1800s, music was funded by the state and used either for official events or for fun at home. However, there was a shift in the mid 1800s marketing music became much more popular. This was done through the artist performing across the country or making the song part of a successful operetta.

In the early 1900s, recording equipment had advanced resulting in growing music industry. Later in the 1920s, broadcast networks were first introduced by producers expanding the music industry even more.


In the 1930s, the music industry took a fall due to the great depression. Through the end of the 1930s and the 1940s records became more mainstream and the jukebox became extremely popular.

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After the war, technological advancements revived the music industry. Tape recording took the streaming experience to a whole new level! In addition, the long-playing (LP) record allowed for playback. These records were produced from vinyl, a much stronger material in contrast to shellac. Around the same time, Rock n’ Roll was on the rise directing the music industry to a younger audience. The youthful fanbase developed the record industry’s success.

The obstacle was that music was mainly streamed through live performances which was costly and inconvenient. With the introduction of the radio, music became much more accessible, growing the music industry even more.

In the 1950s, the TV became a new way of listening to music. This increased the market share of musicians. By the late 1960s, LP was the main source of profits for the entire industry. In the 1980s, record companies dominated the industry and the future of many artists.


In the 1990s came another shift in the industry. The CDR was first introduced, allowing people to copy CDs which was never an available option before. Shortly after, MP3 was introduced taking over the role of CDs. Due to its efficiency and convenience, it became the standard method for listening to music. This was detrimental to companies, as the public could gain access to all sorts of music for free.

In 1992, came the Audio Home Recording Act which had producers of digital recorders pay a royalty fee to compensate for the illegal distribution of audio files. The producers also manufactured their devices with technology that would forbid the device from copying audio files in an attempt to reduce the risk of piracy.

In response to increased piracy, the RIAA accused Internet pirates of illegally sharing music files. In 1998, the pirates agreed to refrain from illegally sharing music and paid a fine equaling over  $1 million!  


The RIAA later sets out to take legal action against those downloading the copyrighted songs as well. As of March of 2004, the RIAA has tried to sue 1,977 individuals for allegedly sharing music illegally on file-sharing networks.

Through this technological advancement, the CD began to fade away. Accordingly, technology companies seized the opportunity. Apple launched iTunes in 2001 in order to provide a platform on which MP3s can be legally purchased. Apple sold approximately 70 million songs for $0.99 each, producing unimaginable profits in a short period of time. With the increase of advanced internet connections, competitive streaming services began to increase too.

In 2006, Spotify was founded by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon with the goal of creating a free legal ad-supported music service. With the technology of the 21st century, producing music became much more affordable. However, the label remains essential for the success of the artist.

With the newer social media applications and the ability to reach a wide audience quickly, many solo artists were able to build a name for themselves. Although this may be beneficial to the artists, now there’s an ocean of music created by artists who lack skill and talent. On the bright side, the audience has a wide variety of music to satisfy their preferences. This has created countless niche genres that have expanded the music industry.

          Recently, with applications such as TikTok, young and talented musicians were able to go viral by posting short clips of their songs. Many musicians have made it to the top lists by simply sharing their talent on social media. Yet again, this has expanded the music industry and altered the rigid requirements for gaining fans.

Throughout the years, the music industry has brought the artist and the listeners closer together through great technological advancements!

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