At the turn of the millennium, 14 years before Kim Kardashian broke the internet, the internet broke the music industry.
The advent of P2P file sharing combined music and technology, allowing users to exchange songs along phone lines. This was usually in the form of the MP3, a compressed audio file that can make a three-minute song 3MB – an eight-minute dial-up download in 2000. Suddenly music became a hotly traded digital commodity, putting big artists on small hard drives. The listener was in control.
To counteract piracy, the industry had to embrace the internet, which would make record labels far less money than physical media. In the US, annual revenues fell from US$14.6 billion in 1999 to US$6.3 billion in 2009. Now, in the age of super-fast fibre, streaming media has become the logical next step. And the rest is history.
Or is it? There will always be those who savour music as an immersive package of songs, art and lyrics. For them, the audio is only part of the journey. They still yearn for the perceived extra value tangible objects bring to the listening experience. Lucky for them, as CD sales declined, some artists began experimenting with releasing songs in different ways.
1. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Irish rockers U2 were among the first. Way back in 2004, when everyone wanted an MP3 player, the band partnered with Apple to try to maintain the magic of the physical format. To promote How to Dismant...