I’ve been listening to music as long as I can remember. The first music I bought with my own money was SCORPIONS Crazy World. As I think back on that now that album reflected a buoyant optimism which typified the late 1980s and 1990s in many ways. The record industry did $10,000,000,00 in sales in 1992. It would be double that in 2022 according to the Recording Industry Association of America. That makes it a very important industry by any measure. As this chart shows.
The early 2000s were hard on the recording industry. This has been the subject of of many podcasts, articles, and books. It has practically become a cultural meme.
Erik Pierce: Musician and Optimist
Erik Pierce was my latest guest on the History Voyager Podcast. He’s been in in the music industry since 2007. This was the trough of industry sales. However I found him to be unflappably optimistic.
How is the Recording Industry Changing?
This has become more apparent to me with each podcast I have done. I talk with people around the world. The sense of wonder I hear back from so many people about our current time is often met with a darkness so many people all around the world.
Erik talked about the music industry as though it was coming from a dark period into a light one. The music industry has never made as much money, but the revenue streams have changed. Paid subscriptions and ad-supported streaming accounted for 69.7% of revenue in 2021. Those two sources accounted for 60.3% in 2020. As you saw in the first link.
This is a fundamental shift to a far more internet centric model. The industry is continuing to move away from “physical media.” The American DVD sales halved over a five-year period from 2014-2019. That’s not all. A graph of Netflix DVD customers from 2011 to 2019 form a horizontal “J” with top of the letter trailing into insolvency and oblivion for that wing of the company.
Change is the watch word in the music industry. Erik Pierce and I talked about NFTs for albums, virtual concerts in the Metaverse, and holographic performers! I am hoping for that Freddie Mercury hologram.