This Is What the Music Industry Looked Like When Napster First Arrived

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Here’s a snapshot of what the music industry looked like when Napster first arrived in June of 1999.

> CDs accounted for 89.4 percent of overall recorded music sales, according to the RIAA.  Cassettes still accounted for roughly 7.6 percent of the total, LPs were roughly 0.2 percent, and album downloads were essentially nonexistent.

> There were 5 major labels: Warner Music Group, EMI Music, Sony Music Entertainment, Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), and Universal Music Group.

> The major labels were in the middle of their best year ever.  This was the year the Diamond Award was created to honor sales of more than 10 million albums.

> The iPod was an unknown name.  In fact, it would be almost two years until its introduction.

> Justin Bieber was 5 years old.  Justin Timberlake was 18.  Daniel Ek (CEO of Spotify) was 16.

> Most artists had no idea what had arrived.  In a lawsuit filed in December, then-Puff Daddy said, “I couldn’t believe it when I found out that this Napster was linking thousands of people to the new Notorious B.I.G. album, Born Again, a week before it even hit the streets.”

> The Backstreet Boys’ Millennium dominated the album charts for most of the month.  It went on to become one of the best-selling albums ever, with worldwide sales north of 40 million.

> MySpace was still four years away.

> Other prominent album releases that year included …Baby One More Time by Britney Spears, The Slim Shady LP by Eminem, Things Fall Apart by the Roots, Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 100% Ginuwine by Ginuwine, and Slipknot’s debut studio album, Slipknot.

> Hilary Rosen was chairman and CEO of the RIAA.  After leaving, she later criticized her own organization’s handling of the Napster problem.