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Visualizing 40 Years of Music Industry Sales

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Visualizing 40 Years of Music Industry Sales

40 Years of Music Industry Sales

The record industry has seen a lot of change over the years.

8-tracks took a short-lived run at the dominance of vinyl, cassettes faded away as compact discs took the world by storm, and through it all, the music industry saw its revenue continue to climb. That is, until it was digitally disrupted.

Looking back at four decades of U.S. music industry sales data is a fascinating exercise as it charts not only the rise and fall the record company profits, but seismic shifts in technology and consumer behavior as well.

The Long Fade Out

For people of a certain age group, early memories of acquiring new music are inexorably linked to piracy. Going to the store and purchasing a $20 disc wasn’t even a part of the thought process. Napster, the first widely used P2P service, figuratively skipped the needle off the record and ended years of impressive profitability in the recording industry.

Physical vs. Digital sales

Napster was shut down in 2002, but the genie was already out of the bottle. Piracy’s effect on the industry was immediate and stark. Music industry sales, which had been experiencing impressive year-over-year growth, began a decline that would continue for 15 years.

The Ringtone Era

While acquiring music was as easy opening Limewire on your desktop computer, transferring that new T-Pain track to a flip-phone wasn’t a seamless experience.

This brief gap in technology – before smartphones hit mass adoption – brought us the ringtone era. Distribution was controlled by mobile carriers, so ringtones were a comfortable gateway for the record industry to get a taste for digital-based revenue. In 2008 alone, they injected over a billion dollars of revenue into an industry that was getting used to gloomy forecasts.

Paddling Upstream

Though services like Spotify and Pandora haven’t replaced the money pipeline that CD sales provided, they have reversed the industry’s tailspin. For the first time this millennium, record industry posted an increase in revenue for two consecutive years (and likely a third in 2018).

It took a while for consumers to warm up to paying for a premium music subscription, but today, there’s a solid basis for optimism. Music streaming is now the most common format for music in the United States, and the RIAA reports that streaming now makes up nearly half of the market.

Music Streaming Subscriptions

The End of Physical Format?

Gone are the days when people would line up at the music shop for a hot new release. In fact, CD sales are down 80% in the past decade. Today, physical format sales only account for 17% of the industry’s revenue.

There is, however, one bright spot in physical format segment: vinyl. In 2017, vinyl sales hit 25-year high after making a slow and steady comeback.

Vinyl is written in stone. I think if it’s made it for 120 years now, it’s here forever.

– Jack White

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Ranked: The 20 Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap

In total, the 20 biggest tech companies are worth over $20 trillion—nearly 18% of the stock market value globally.

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A portion of the top 20 biggest tech companies visualized as bubbles sized by market cap with Apple as the biggest.

Ranked: The 20 Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap

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.

The world’s 20 biggest tech companies are worth over $20 trillion in total. To put this in perspective, this is nearly 18% of the stock market value globally.

This graphic shows which companies top the ranks, using data from Companiesmarketcap.com.

A Closer Look at The Top 20

Market capitalization (market cap) measures what a company is worth by taking the current share price and multiplying it by the number of shares outstanding. Here are the biggest tech companies according to their market cap on June 13, 2024.

RankCompanyCountry/RegionMarket Cap
1AppleU.S.$3.3T
2MicrosoftU.S.$3.3T
3NvidiaU.S.$3.2T
4AlphabetU.S.$2.2T
5AmazonU.S.$1.9T
6MetaU.S.$1.3T
7TSMCTaiwan$897B
8BroadcomU.S.$778B
9TeslaU.S.$582B
10TencentChina$453B
11ASMLNetherlands$415B
12OracleU.S.$384B
13SamsungSouth Korea$379B
14NetflixU.S.$281B
15AMDU.S.$258B
16QualcommU.S.$243B
17SAPGermany$225B
18SalesforceU.S.$222B
19PDD Holdings (owns Pinduoduo)China$212B
20AdobeU.S.$206B

Note: PDD Holdings says its headquarters remain in Shanghai, China, and Ireland is used for legal registration for its overseas business.

 

Apple is the largest tech company at the moment, having competed with Microsoft for the top of the leaderboard for many years. The company saw its market cap soar after announcing its generative AI, Apple Intelligence. Analysts believe people will upgrade their devices over the next few years, since the new features are only available on the iPhone 15 Pro or newer.

Microsoft is in second place in the rankings, partly thanks to enthusiasm for its AI software which is already generating revenue. Rising profits also contributed to the company’s value. For the quarter ended March 31, 2024, Microsoft increased its net income by 20% compared to the same quarter last year.

Nvidia follows closely behind with the third-highest market cap, rising more than eight times higher compared to its value at the start of 2023. The company has recently announced higher profits, introduced a higher dividend, and reported that its next-generation GPU chip will start generating revenue later this year.

AI a Driver of the Biggest Tech Companies

It’s clear from the biggest tech companies that involvement in AI can contribute to investor confidence.

Among S&P 500 companies, AI has certainly become a focus topic. In fact, 199 companies cited the term “AI” during their first quarter earnings calls, the highest on record. The companies who mentioned AI the most were Meta (95 times), Nvidia (86 times), and Microsoft (74 times).

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