According to Hans Christian Anderson, “Where word fails, music speaks.” Music is always there when we need it—whether we put in our earbuds to tune out the woes and worries of the world or connect our smartphones to our car’s Bluetooth speakers to blast tunes. That said, music hasn’t always been there for everyone. These days, music is attainable at the click of a button. But the past tells a far different story about music consumption.
Once upon a time, the saga of sound recording began with the iconic phonograph. But how did everyday music consumption get to the YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music of today? Let’s take a closer look at the music evolution: listening over the decades.
More Than Hipster: Record Stores and Vinyl
The first records of the world were for the gramophone, with spiral grooves etching sound information into a flat record. With time, mass production of these innovative pieces of technology shaped music consumption as we know it. Later variations of these record players have faced a resurgence in popularity. Consumers can still find record stores around the nation to shop for vinyl.
Making Air Waves: Broadcast Radio
Before playing music, radios were exclusively for military or naval communication. The initial American radio station didn’t begin its broadcasts until a century ago—that’s right, 1920 to be exact. Within the coming decade, millions of families owned broadcast radios. By the second world war, radios played music for listeners of all ages.
Portable Listening Medium: Cassette and CD Craze
Walkman, anyone? Before the invention of this device, music consumption stayed in place. After its invention, listening became portable. This technology advertised how music on the go could forever change your life. Crazy how that turned out to be true, didn’t it? Nevertheless, the sales of the CD craze overtook both vinyl and cassettes. Compact discs furthered the evolution of music playing devices and the sharing of audible content.
Make Way for MP3s: Iconic iPods
The first electronic MP3 players became public before the millennium. These thick and chunky devices held a handful of songs before ultimately running out of space. Fortunately, Apple iPods took the world by storm and revolutionized listening to music over the decades. Apple opened the first web-based music library to transmit music through digital audio file formats.
The Digital Era: Permanence of Music Streaming
The growth of the worldwide web and the eventual implementation of Wi-Fi gave music lovers a whole new medium of listening: streaming. Steaming sites—and now, applications—are the present golden standard for unlimited music. The ease and speed of this modern listening experience are the best on the market. Who knew how fast music technology would advance within the last decade? And who knows what will one day knock the crown off music streaming’s place.