40 Years of Music Industry Change, In 40 Seconds or Less…

If you liked our 30 year recap, you’ll love this. Each pie shows the revenue contribution from various formats, 1973-present, based on RIAA revenue figures.  If you want to see it again, just wait for the animation to start over.

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This is US-based data, and each pie represents 100% of total recording revenue.

And, here are the individual year source images, starting with 1973 on the top left and 2012 on the bottom right.  Each image was created by the RIAA, using their shipments and revenue database.

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26 Responses

  1. Mike Pailthorpe

    This is brilliant – but is the overall pie size representative in each slide?
    It would be even better if the pie grew and shrank in line with total figures.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Thanks Mike. It’s a perfect suggestion, but a little difficult to represent properly without a lot more space. The reason, as you probably know, is the the size of the industry doubles (at least) in a relatively short span, then spins into the current era of extreme complexity.
      So a challenge to ponder I suppose.

      • JoeRap

        Yes, great graphic. To Mike’s point, perhaps you could merely superimpose the overall industry total year by year in the center of the pie (while you’re having fun with graphics…)

      • Paul

        You could use the third dimension to show industry size. It’s not used curently to show anything. Expanded industry would be more of a cylinder and contracted a thin disk.

        • mike corcoran

          Or, simply add “Total Pie = $XX ” in the upper right corner for each year. That seems more doable and easier to figure out than a cylinder.
          thanks for the graphic, very cool!

  2. SongSplits

    Great piece, interesting to see how and when technology has played it’s part in what the industry is today.
    All in the same we can see the power of a great album, and the power of a great song on industry economics and the delivery of music to fans as a whole.
    How songwriters create, credit and collect on their business is more important than ever, the ecosystem is clearly becoming larger by the year.

    • hippydog

      I just loved the 40 second representation of the slow death and major rebirth of the “single” ;-)

  3. ChrisC

    “If you want to see it again, just wait for the animation to start over.”
    Not a great format for presenting this information about formats.

    • Bloup

      Just switch tabs, and it will go back to the first frame ;)

  4. mariana

    As melhores frases bonitas da interent estão nesse site.

  5. Tom Silverman

    Paul: This is based on gross revenue but net revenue after mechanicals and manufacturing would be even better. Synch revenue and SoundExchange revenue do not include mechanical costs or manufacturing and shipping so they are understated in gross percentages. If mechanicals and manufacturing/shipping costs were removed where applicable, the synch and SoundExchange percentages would be even bigger. The CD, Cassette and Vinyl percentages would be reduced by the greatest percentage since those numbers include manufacturing, shipping and mechanicals.

  6. Tom Silverman

    Also notice that non-unit based revenue (SoundExchange, Synch & Subscription) increased from 11.9% of gross revenues to 17.4% of gross revenues. At net revenues these hit the bottom line at over 23%. Gross revenues at retail is the way RIAA has reported sales since 1963. This measurement method is not obsolete as you are adding apples and oranges.
    Note also that only Sync and SoundExchange have no retail markup further undervaluing thier contribution to the bottom line of labels and artists.
    Note further that the RIAA did not report sync revenues before 2009.
    So let’s look at a wholesale version of this graphic with mechanicals, manufacturing and shipping removed and watch how non unit revenues increase from around 3.5% to nearly 25% in only six years.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      So let’s look at a wholesale version of this graphic with mechanicals, manufacturing and shipping removed and watch how non unit revenues increase from around 3.5% to nearly 25% in only six years.
      There’d have to be some guestimations on costs here, and digital carries costs as well (not as great, but potentially more complicated to analyze).

      • tom silverman

        You can do it. It will not be completely accurate but will roughly convert from mythical retail numbers to net revenue numbers.
        Reduce physical by 35% for markup plus 8% for mechanicals plus 12% for manufacturing, shipping, and returns.
        Reduce digital sales by 30% for markup and 9% for mechanicals
        Reduce subscription revenues by 30% for markup
        Reduce advertising rev share revenues (Vevo/YouTube) by 30% for markup (unless RIAA reports net revenue from them)

        This will get you close to reality

  7. Richard L Hess

    Hi, Paul,

    Great post! I took the data and massaged it into an area graph which works for me better. Thought I’d share:

  8. Ivan Skinner

    Very informative! Nothing like history in motion.
    CDs will not disapear for two reasons. 1. The natural anthropology of the human species dictates that people who have a stable residence (a home) want collections and libraries of whatever. Be it books, paintings, guns, guitars, sheet music, or CDs. Humans like to collect a collection. This will never change. 2. The absolute best way to listen to recorded music is with a high quality stereo sound system (home or car) and a well mastered CD. MP3s suck for sound reproduction quality. They are OK for the gym or riding a bicycle, but cannot hold any flame to a CD on a killer stereo preamp with high end speakers.
    That’s why CDs will not go out of favor with people who want the best in life.

    • gsbnym

      couldn’t disagree more ivan. ask your kids and their friends if they care about having the actual cd. they don’t. you’re correct that they will collect music, but it’s now shelved on an iphone or hard drive not displayed on their wall.

      • NIkki

        I somewhat agree with Ivan, but for different reasons.

        As long as there are computers with disc drives that are compatible with CDs and DVDs, there will be some healthy percentage of CDs on this chart.

        Also, the call of physical ownership will never disappear completely. See the small but noticable bounce back of Vinyl which was at .2% at its lowest in 2005, back up to 1.8% in 2012 (and likely continuing to grow). Not to mention that that vinyl percentage in no way accounts for the likely larger amount of cheap used vinyl that sells in specialty record stores… which brings me full circle around to similarly unreported large numbers of used CDs sold in record stores…

    • Seewhyaudio

      Ivan: Really not sure about that.
      On the one hand audiophiles (a dwindling breed by any measure) prefer vinyl, SACD or DVD-A, etc. On the other and, for your more regular consumers of music CD is not convenient enough.

      As someone so correctly put it to me recently: ‘A CD is just a barrier between your music and your iPod’. A better yardstick to use, for my money, would be the measure of what kind of equipment is currently being sold. In other words, how people listen. Killer high end CD players don’t come anywhere near the top of that list.

      CDs will stick around for a while, sure, but don’t kid yourself that anybody has any loyalty towards CD as a format.

    • mwheelerk

      I agree to disagree. It (CD) is a dying breed. I am part of that breed but although all of my listening is done via rips from CDs (and full resolution files, no mp3’s) or 24 bit downloads I purchase. I enjoy my computer based audio system more now than any CD based or vinyl system I ever owned. However, I also think my way of listening is doomed in the short run to be overtaken by streaming in the long run. I would bet if a closer look was taken at CD buyers today versus those who purchase downloads or those who subscribe to streaming you would find the CD buyers to be an older generation (self included) versus the downloaders and streamers.

  9. Caroline from Radar

    I expect the music video slice will get an awful lot bigger this year and next (not download obvs)

  10. Caroline from Radar

    I expect the music video slice will get an awful lot bigger this year and next (not download obvs)

  11. Guest

    It seems everyone is a hater. Thanks Paul for taking the time to put all of this together. While it might be there for anyone to do, it takes time to create…