The evolution of music

Mark Stent · Feb 05, 2021

Category: Music Industry

How things have changed…

I remember buying my first vinyl record so many years ago. I remember the tactile feeling of holding that record, going into my favourite record shop, playing the record on the shop’s turntables and being proud of my selection. I remember how the sleeve looked, its colours, the label name and I remember feeling very connected to my music. In fact, I still own over 3000 vinyl records and still feel connected to every single one. Those physical treasures map a history of my love of music, each track translates to a time of my life, a group of memories…the soundtrack to my life.

Roll on to 2021…

Digital music has taken over and physical sales (in terms of CD’s) has all but disappeared. Music has become disposable and trendy. There is no ‘buy in’ or investment in building a music collection anymore, its as simple as streaming whatever it is you feel like listening to at that moment. The rise of on-demand music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music has changed the way we pay for music and the way we listen to it. 

If you look at the graph below, MRC Data’s latest year-end music report, album sales (both physical and digital) in the United States dropped to 102 million units in 2020, down from 501 million in 2007. Yet overall music consumption is rising, which means that people aren’t listening to music any less than they used to, they just listen differently.


It’s quite sad for artists really…

Don’t get me wrong, streaming and being exposed to massive amounts of new and old music and the growth and evolution of music consumption is amazing and is creating new opportunities and totally different types of creativity.

It’s sad because music as an art form and source of culture is dying. Gone seem to be the days of taking years to build a collection and become a specialist in your chosen genre or favourite artist. Collecting paraphernalia, albums and other keepsakes. Having an all-time favourite song has been replaced with a ‘song-of-the-week’. Radio is only playing the top streaming hits and has stopped being the place to break new music and DJ’s have become jukeboxes, their playlists dictated by the crowd. DJ’s used to teach the crowd about new music, now they are slaves to what the crowds dictate. Record labels now just follow trends and shun anything new and out-of-the-box.

Not all is lost though. It seems as if vinyl sales are starting to increase again slowly, which shows that people still want an experience from their music, they still need to feel connection…


Music is entering a new and unchartered world, it is forking off into exponential directions and it is losing something that makes it great. The question is how much to we value music? How much do we value our heritage, our history? How much do we value the experience music gives us?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Also, let’s discuss on Facebook

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