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Animated Chart: The Rise and Fall of Music Sales, by Format (1973-2021)

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The Rise and Fall of Music Sales, by Format (1973-2021)

We live in a world of music. Whether when driving to work or jamming out at home, people around the world like to have their favorite tunes playing in the background.

But while our love for music has been constant, the way we consume media has evolved drastically. The past 50 years have seen many different music formats used to access these tunes, mirroring society’s shift from analog to digital.

This video, created by James Eagle using data from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), highlights sales of different music formats in the U.S. over the last 50 years.

Vinyl

Up until the late 1980s, vinyl dominated the music format industry, earning billions of dollars in sales annually. Records of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon were some of the top selling albums available.

Vinyl is said to provide its listeners with analog sounds that reverberate and the warm notes of almost-live music. For vinyl users and enthusiasts to this day, the music produced by these sleek yet massive records is unparalleled.

8-Track

If you’re a millennial (or younger), you may have never heard of the 8-track. But this music format played an integral part in the history of music.

When the booming automotive vehicle industry found it challenging to translate the music experience to cars using vinyl, it looked to the “Stereo 8” eight-track cartridge, better known as the 8-track. This cartridge used an analog magnetic tape and provided 90 minutes of continuous music play time.

8-track carved a niche for itself much before the advent of cassettes and CDs. And through the proliferation of vehicles, 8-track sales climbed to reach a peak revenue of $900 million in 1978.

Cassettes

The era of cassettes pushed 8-tracks into the history of music in the early 1980s. These pocket-sized tapes were more convenient to use than 8Tracks and quickly spread worldwide.

By 1989, the cassette format reached its peak revenues of $3.7 billion.

CDs

First released in 1982, the Compact Disc or CD came into the music market as the successor to the vinyl record.

Developed by Philips and Sony, sales of the sleek and portable CD grew quickly as home and car stereos alike added CD functionality. The format brought in $13.3 billion in revenue in both 1999 and 2000. To date, no other music format has reached the same milestone since.

Digital Music Formats

When it comes to preferred music formats over time, convenience (and cost) seem to have been the biggest catalysts of change.

From the start of the early 2000s, CDs had started to be replaced by other forms of digital storage and distribution. The massive shift to internet consumption and the introduction of digital music, available through downloads, pushed audio CD sales down rapidly.

The launch of streaming platforms like Spotify in 2006 exacerbated this decline, with CD sales dropping by around $4 billion in five years.

Digital sales continued to evolve. Ringtone sales alone brought in $1.1 billion in 2007, and in 2012, the revenues from downloads shot up to a peak of $2.9 billion. But music streaming platforms kept climbing through 2021, and will likely continue to be the future face of music consumption.

RankMusic formatsRevenue in 2021
1Streaming$11.5 billion
2Vinyl$1.0 billion
3CD$0.6 billion
4Downloads$0.5 billion
Other$1.4 billion
Total$15.1 billion

Music streaming and subscription services pushed the accessibility of music to new highs, especially with free ad-supported platforms.

In 2021, streaming secured the music industry a whopping $11.5 billion in sales, good for 76% of the total. If it keeps growing in popularity and accessibility, the format could potentially challenge the peak popularity of CDs in the late 90s.

The Vintage Comeback?

There’s no doubt that digital music formats are getting increasingly popular with every passing year. However, one of our vintage and beloved music formats—the vinyl record—seems to be making a comeback.

According to the RIAA database, the revenue earned by LP/EP sales has shot up to $1.0 billion in 2021, its highest total since the mid-1980s.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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America’s Takeout Food Preferences: A Decade of Change

In 2013, the top 10 most-ordered takeout food on Doordash featured more varied cuisine compared to 2023.

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A ranking of America's most-ordered takeout food on DoorDash in 2013 and 2023.

America’s Takeout Food Preferences: A Decade of Change

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Launched by Stanford students in 2012, delivery behemoth DoorDash now holds about 56% of the American online food delivery market. As a result, the company has unique insights into what Americans are ordering for food, as well as how their habits have changed.

In this visual, we rank DoorDash’s most-ordered takeout food in 2013 and 2023, per their “Decade Delivered” report.

French Fries: Born in Belgium, Loved by America

French fries are DoorDash’s most-ordered food in 2023 compared to the Panera chipotle chicken sandwich in 2013.

As it happens, French fries are also the most-ordered food on the platform of all time.

Since 2013, more than 600 million orders of fries have been delivered, and as the company notes, it is “a perfect food that (almost) no one’s making at home.”

Here’s their top 10 most-ordered takeout food items in 2013 and 2023

Rank20132023
1🥪 Chipotle Chicken Sandwich🍟 French Fries
2🥟 Pork Potstickers🥙 Chicken Quesadilla
3🍲 Tomato Bisque Soup🧀 Mozzarella Sticks
4🥗 Cobb Salad🫓 Garlic Naan
5🍠 Sweet Potato Fries🌶️ Spicy Chicken Sandwich
6🥑 Guacamole🍕 Pepperoni Pizza
7🧆 Hummus🧀 Chips & Queso
8🧀 Grilled Cheese Sandwich🍗 Traditional Wings
9🌮 Tacos🥗 Cobb Salad
10🫓 Pita🍚 Fried Rice

Interestingly, the Cobb salad is the only food item to stay within the top 10, though it has fallen five ranking spots in the last decade.

And while the chipotle chicken sandwich specifically is no longer on the top 10, spicy chicken sandwiches rank at sixth place in 2023.

When comparing overall trends over the decade, 2013 seemed to have more varied cuisine in the top 10: Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and French.

Meanwhile, 2023 is concentrated around American and Mexican food. DoorDash also states that the latter two are the most-ordered cuisines of the past decade. Almost universally, however, finger foods are the theme: whether it be fries, wings, pizza, tacos or pitas.

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