The past ten years have seen exceptional change and upheaval in the recording industry. With the arrival of Napster at the beginning of the decade, as well as more refined music sampling tools like iTunes, Pandora and MySpace later in the decade, the traditional hard copy record (or CD) was clearly destined for the grave. As you can see in the viz below, the 2000's produced less than 10 albums selling over 10 million copies in the US- and none of those were produced after 2004!

We cannot underestimate the role of technology in the transformation of the record industry. Both illegal and legal online outlets siphoned sales from traditional sources, but they also widened consumers tastes. Tools like the Genius Bar, Pandora, and MySpace showed us music we’d never heard of and suggested songs we would enjoy based on our previous selections. Simply put, the 2000's were the decade of independent music. Recording companies no longer controlled the market; our broadening musical tastes did. The records that did sell this decade make me wish for a return to the talent of the 60's, '70's or '80's - Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel and AC/DC... though The Beatles can still sell some serious records!


I am sincerely impressed by this blog, although the quality of records that were produced and sold in 2000-2004 makes me desire a drink. Brittany Spears, Creed and Linkin Park? What have we come to?

Great analysis, Ross! I agree with Erika that the 00's, and the 90's for that matter, feel quite depressing in this viz. In my view, however, the emergence of the technologies listed above and "listener powered" radio stations, like in Seattle, have made this the best decade yet to be a music lover.

I would love to see a view describing the rise of the indie scene over the last 10 years, though that sounds like a tough nut to crack.

I want to see something along those lines as well! Thank you both for your comments and participation.

Fascinating. I do recall some analysis done by Claire Enders (Enders Analysis) that showed the economic engine playing King Canute in the Music Industry was almost entirely driven by the top 5 artists at each record label. While Pareto's law seems to feature heavily, i'm wondering how representative the RIAA are in this new world.

I don't sense any reduced consumption of music - just feels like the long tail has become much more significant as a share of the whole.