An animated look at how music sales have changed over the past 30 years
There’s been no shortage of hand-wringing about threats to the music industry, whether from technology or piracy. But hearing reports of dismal album sales is one thing; seeing the tidal shift in a 30-second gif is quite another.
Digital Music News created this simple animated pie chart to illustrate how the sources of music revenue have changed. It begins with the year 1980, when LP and EP sales were still on the rise. By 1982, cassette sales have begun to expand, but their moment of dominance was brief—they were quickly surpassed by CDs. In 2002, CDs held a whopping 95 percent of the market, but we all know what happened from there. In 2010, CD sales comprised less than half of all music revenue for the first time since 1990. And of course, those numbers don’t even include the albums or singles downloaded illegally.
Taken together, the 31 pie charts are one part nostalgia trip (remember mix tapes?) and one part thought-provoking question about what the future of music will hold. In another 30 years, it’s entirely possible that the entire concept of owning music will look as antiquated as those old EPs.