The History of the Music Biz Captured in a Single GIF

Forty years of vinyl, discs, and downloads in 40 seconds

Music Sales 40 Year Chart Graph Industry Digital Album Singles
Digital Music News' 40-year pie chart, at the start
Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins

Contrary to popular belief, the music industry's sales M.O. has been in flux for quite some time. Hard as it is to imagine, there was a time when the 8-track gave vinyl a run for its money. And cassettes usurped just about everything until CDs entered the picture. The dominance of the disc was very real indeed, but if we can learn anything from the long view, it's that a new technology is bound to come along and replace the old — and that none of them has killed music yet despite the usual outcry to the contrary. 

Thanks to the RIAA, via Digital Music News, we can witness 40 years of music sales in 40 seconds or less. The pie chart GIF below starts in 1973 and ends in 2012, and is chopped up according to the song and album sales methods of the day. Witness the beginning of the digital revolution in 2004, when the nearly sated Pac-Man that was the CD slowly got its maw pried open by a boom of new mediums. It's also pretty cool to see vinyl come back into the picture. (Keep fighting the good fight, Record Store Day.) It should be noted that the size of the pie does not correlate with the amount of money made overall in a single year.

Okay, eat up:

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Now Playing
  • 1 Young Buffalo — No Idea " 03:59
  • 2 Vaadat Charigim — Ein Li Makom " 03:46
  • 3 Lindstrøm — Home Tonight " 09:13
  • 4 Will Butler — You Must Be Kidding " 03:54
  • 5 Clarence Clarity — 1-800-WORSHIP " 04:30
  • 6 The Knocks — Dancing With Myself " 00:00
  • 7 Lady Gaga — Till It Happens to You " 03:24

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