The rise and fall (and rise) of music distribution media
What a wonderful GIF, showing the rise and fall of music distribution media, since 1970:
A few things to note, here:
- Changing music distribution formats is not a new thing. We see cassettes overtaking vinyl and CDs overtaking cassettes before the internet comes along. And even before vinyl, radio was supposed to kill the music industry, when in fact it became a great new marketing medium. This isn’t to say that the internet doesn’t pose challenges, but it is to say that the music industry has always been evolving based on new technologies.
- Old habits die hard. Even in 2012, CDs account for about half of music distribution. We’re always taling about the new new thing here, but late adopters are (by definition) half of the market, and they matter, too.
- Old media can thrive. Starting in 2008, the share of vinyl increases. Vinyl afficionados are die-hards, and it is a growing, not shrinking market, and a vibrant one. This has implications for, say, books. Ten years from now, the majority of book reading will happen on digital formats, but people will still be buying old-fashioned paperbacks, and books-as-objects–coffee table books, etc.–will be a thriving, important market (albeit perhaps relatively small).