10 Years of Music Industry Change (In 10 Seconds or Less)

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The music industry: it all depends on how you look at it! Here’s an animated look at the massive transformations witnessed over the past 10 years.

It’s been a pretty wild transformation for the music industry — and this is just the past 10 years.

The methodology.

The above breakdown reflects the sales of every type of recording format, based on US-based reports from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).  You can find all of these reports on the RIAA site.

Quick update/clarification: this is an animation of relative sales, not total sales.  So even if 2016 sales were double that of 2010, the overall quadrant would be the same size.

2016 is the last full reporting period available (though we’ll update once we get 2017 half-year stats).

During the period, digital formats surged to easily outperform physical formats.

Perhaps most astoundingly, the CD was still a dominant music industry format back in 2007, despite a mature music downloading sector and an emerging streaming space.  Fast-forward to the present, and streaming has become the dominant force, with paid subscriptions easily the biggest breadwinner for the entire recording industry.

Vinyl records are also showing handsome gains.  But the format remains niche, and broader questions about its future growth potential remain.  Regardless, sales of turntables are also booming, though hardware and players aren’t reflected in the above animation.

Separately, live concert revenues are also exploding, though that’s another animation entirely (back with that soon).

Of course, all of this is still transitioning rapidly.  Looking ahead, the next few years will probably include a continued surge for streaming formats.  That’s thanks to ever-growing players like Spotify and YouTube.  Accordingly, we can also expect brutal declines in both paid downloads and CDs, though it’s unclear exactly when each will face extinction.

Actually, on that note: there are plenty of prognosticators who foresee a future for both formats.  Indeed, both formats have their utilities within certain demos.  In particularly, older segments still like CDs, and plenty of music fans still rely on the offline download.

Perhaps ringtones are the most endangered, though amazingly the format is still worth tens of millions — in the US alone.

20 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    Exactly 10 years ago British team at UMG have endorsed STREAMING suicide of music business!
    Francis Keeling gave green light to Ek style streaming and Rio Caraeff opened VEEVOO stupidity on YouTube pirate boat.

    No changes in life since then.
    The industry is continuing TO COMPOST $300B of music goodwill to just $25B of subs and ads.
    Sir Lucian and UMG must wake up or construction of $25B music GRAVE will end in 2025.

    • Remi Swierczek Sr.

      Little Remi, what did I tell you about staying up late and posting your mad unintelligent rantings on this board? Go to bed so you can get up and go to school tomorrow morning! Praise be to Spotify!

      • PiratesWinLOL

        he has been posting this nonsense for years and years…

        praise ek & youtube!

        • Remi Swierczek

          It took 1500 years and thousands of humans on burned on the stake before medieval managed by catholic church was busted by Henry VIII and Northern European protestants!

          Today, so far for 15 years, Google is in charge of digital medieval.
          Advertising is the God with total disregard to other participants of digital era.
          To me and probably handful of other folks music is worth at least $300B/year and is bigger than digital ads!

          In 1543 Copernicus was one the few humans who knew that Earth is round and travels around the Sun. Giordano Bruno, the messenger of Copernicus ideas, was burned on the stake in 1600.

    • Rain Perry

      It’s funny how nearly every article on how streaming is finally profitable for labels has a small caveat along the lines “the imbalance in payouts to artists will probably have to be addressed.” To me, that means a fatally flawed model.

      • Remi Swierczek

        They are just ALL INCLUSIVE ON DAMEND ACCESS Radio with lower sub cost than Radio/TV subscription in sa Norway or Switzerland.

        Radio/TV sub were always minor income generators to music industry and musicians. Same for Ek style BULLSHIT even if all subs ( Those in PL, LV, China and Ethiopia) are at $9.99 (WIll NEVER happen) 500 million subs will bring exactly $60B dollars/year. We have been there in 1999.

        Why are we burning $300B of music to POSSIBLY arrive in 2025 with $25B of subs and ads revenues?
        Sir L(ost) at UMG, please wake up!!!
        Life has put you in POWER spot so do not go to history as the ONE WHO HAS KILLED MUSIC.

    • Remi Swierczek

      Nothing will change and there will be no serious music money until we STOP abuse of “fair use” by Google, Shazam, SoundHound and few lyric ID guys.

      As long as you get the name of new tune you just discovered and you love you are the OWNER – just log in to YouTube.

    • PiratesWinLOL

      i am sure it will. also, that whole internet thing is actually just a fad, and not really that popular. in five years i am sure nobody will remember what all the fuss was actually about.

    • Anonymous

      Streaming is the best way to deliver music – just convert streamers to simple music stores.
      Let them play the best and just charge for addition to the playlist.

  2. djhope

    Hi all!I’m a rock musician from Germany.i need a new samples for my songs.What do you think about this site – lucidsamples

  3. Versus

    Interesting graphic…but the total stays the same size. Shouldn’t it change to reflect the general shrinkage of income due to piracy etc?

  4. Anon

    Wow, vinyl is MASSIVE, just like I hear every week from DMN & friends

    P.S.: please tell me more Remi. Your ideas sound intriguing and convincing.

  5. Nicky Knight

    The record business is the best entertainment business by far..

    The DVD movie business is dead
    The Indy movie business is dead
    The Newspaper and magazine business is dead
    The Indy retail store is almost dead

    Streaming is good because everyone does it and there’s money to made
    for those who are having the hits !!

    If you’re not in the hit business then you better go looking for a nine to five..

  6. Chris Daniels

    Would you PLEASE stop calling this “10 Years of Music Industry Change” — it is NOT it is 10 years of record industry change. Do the same thing for the concert segment of the industry with festivals and you can show massive growth. Do the same thing for mechanical licensing and publishing – it will be less dramatic with much greater growth in song placement and sync work. And take a look at the endorsements from beer and car sponsors for artists, festivals and venues and you have another graph. The record business is only a small (and growing smaller) part of the MUSIC INDUSTRY — please stop making this basic 101-entry level mistake – DMN knows better, Thank you CD

  7. Nicky Knight

    The recorded music business has been going through a lot of changes
    from the magic 70’s when records really sold a lot of records, to the early/mid
    2000’s when iTunes sold millions of downloads and many people did very well
    out of iTunes. Now we’re in the era of streaming (paid, free, ad-supported…).

    The record business is not the concert or festival business, it’s not beer advertising or endorsements.. it’s not really the sync or publishing business..

    Trying to divert changes in the record business to these other businesses doesn’t
    cut it for me.. if you’re a record producer and label owner who’s livelihood is based around sound recordings commercial performance.. then these changes
    in the record business mean quite a lot..

  8. Camaal Mustafa Sikander

    Reduce the speed of GIF so people can at least read.