Go through music industry’s amazing journey


The inflection point

A mere 3 years after its introduction, in 2006, downloads already boosted annual US units to their all-time peak. Standards on the likes iTunes was a $1 price for a song and $10 for an album. This felt just wrong as a single was now 4 times cheaper than in the past while the album was still just as expensive. It decreased a lot the interest of the latter. Most big albums still only have 4 singles, cherry-picking them for $4 was much more logical instead of buying them plus 4 or 5 other fillers for $10. As a result, and as shown inside the graphic above, while sales kept increasing, revenues kept going down.

Thus, the entire industry was awaiting for the inflection point, when digital sales revenue increases will top physical sales revenue drops. In 2010, we though that point was reached. Industry executives considered the crisis was soon going to be something from the past. Figures really looked that way from 2010 to 2013. In fact, worldwide overall revenue decreased a mere 2% in 3 years from $14,9 billion to $14,6 billion.

A world of specialization

During that period, we attended to the tsunami named Adele. The most striking fact in this success wasn’t its size as several albums from the past did just as well or better. Instead, it was how unique such a success was in the last 10 years. Since the 60s, almost each year had its pack of blockbusters, but that trend suddenly stopped in mid-00s. This absence of blockbusters wasn’t that much due to the overall decrease in sales. The main reason is how much fragmented the market got.

In each country, local industries have been developed and local artists are often favored by consumers. Tastes became more fragmented too. Additionally, the digital world and the ever-increasing number of specialized radios and TV channels enables fans of all genres to focus solely on their favorite sounds. This is why the 2005-2010 period saw many albums reach incredible sales here and there but not globally. There has been Nickelback in the US, Amy Winehouse in the UK, P!nk in Australia, etc. Globally though, none reached that A-league status in all markets worldwide, none until Adele‘s 21.

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Vernon Smith

Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, all were singer-songwriters to name a few but you’re perpetuating the typical myth. You equate songwriters as the people who make “the music”. This is nonsense. For Example, Jimi Hendrix did not write the songs “Along The Watch Tower” or “Hey Joe”. Do you equate Jimi’s record of Watchtower as the same “music” as Dylans record? Of course, you don’t. Well relevant to Elvis and the relevant songs Elvis recorded, the Hendrix example is analogous to what Presley and his lead guitarist did in “music” on Presley’s records. another quote “Often, fans of old glories feel… Read more »


You’ve forgotten one thing…… His music is shit!!


I don’t claim to be an expert on him or his movies but my impression has always been, that while they and the resulting albums and songs were extremely successful to begin with, as time went by, they ended up being seriously damaging and detrimental to his musical career. Resulting in a real fallow period of chart success, throughout most of the 1960’s.

Jackson was never as big as Presley, he was always quite a slight man!


Martin, his peak was way2 bigger than Elvis



I just finished to read the article, it was so interesting, thank you for it. This is why I love this website, we have analysis of artists but also of the market, which is very important too, we have clear answers to our questions. It’s fascinating!
Thank to you I changed my mind about streaming!


Great article!