“We are at a crossroads in the music business: with the rise of the internet, the world we live in has changed, and the past is not coming back.” –Jon Bon Jovi
Music, as we know it, has changed greatly over the years. We have seen the market grow and contract as technology has advanced the ways in which we enjoy it. While music was once only allowed to be enjoyed live, formats like records and mp3 have revolutionized what we know music to be today. As the music business continues to venture forward, and new ways have been discovered to share music, let us think about how we came to this point in time. Each format of music played a significant role in how the music industry was successful, and how the general population had the freedom to share and enjoy music together. In this photo essay, my intention is to put together a timeline that shows this progression of technology. Starting the essay is radio; the most common and accessible format in which we can still enjoy music to this day. Ending the photo essay is Spotify, which has become one of the most common forms in which people now experience music. Spotify can be enjoyed without a monthly cost with commercials, or at a premium rate without commercials. Each picture captures the essence of what made that form of technology unique during its peak within the history of the music industry.
I decided to take this approach when I realized how much music has played a major impact on my upbringing. Each format I highlight has been something my family or I have owned at one point in our lives, so I can appreciate what each format can provide as a musical experience. Starting with my father who would put his favorite radio stations on in the car and playing records on his turn table at home, so I was always surrounded by music. These were the forms of music he grew up with and maintained a collection of records of his own. At some point during my childhood I realized how much my forms of music that I grew up with differed from his. Starting with a collection of CDs that included Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys and Coldplay; I began to maintain a collection of music for myself. Over the years, I saw this collection grow and change with the different forms of technology. While I still have many CDs today, I also own a few albums on iTunes and I am subscribed to a premium account on Spotify.
In addition to formats of music, I chose to also highlight the ways in which we can still buy these different forms of music. Each picture shows the method in which these different forms of music are displayed for the customer to buy and each provide a unique opportunity to learn more about the product. While Target doesn’t allow you to learn more about the CD than its cover, iTunes provides snippets of songs, and the record stores provides turn tables to play albums on which allows these customers to experience the music before buying the product. I believe that this also demonstrates how sales can be affected because of the environments they are being sold in. Allowing customers online or in the record store to listen to the music before buying it, can have a positive impact on the way people purchase music.
Lastly, I chose to also highlight Spotify because that is also having a major effect on the purchasing on music. Customers only need to spend five to ten dollars a month in order to have unlimited access to music, instead of buying full albums for over $10 or single songs for 99 cents. This is how we evolved to enjoy music today, and is the end to this photo essay timeline. What I want viewers of this photo essay to think about is not only how we arrived at this point, but where they think the music industry can or will go next. And I ask: what will the music industry become as streaming continues to grow?