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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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Mapped: The Top Podcasts on Spotify Across Countries

Podcasting is now a billion dollar industry, attracting big names and audiences to match. Here’s a global look at the top podcasts on Spotify.

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The Top Spotify Podcast Across Countries

We are amidst the breakout era of podcasts. Since the beginning of the smartphone revolution, the digital audio format has picked up serious traction with audiences all over. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that there will be 132 million podcast listeners by 2022.

Today, there are 850,000 active podcasts available in 100 languages, with over 30 million episodes to tap into—perfect if you have an afternoon to yourself.

Worldwide Podcast Chart-Toppers

The data in this infographic comes from Spotify, the top global streaming service in the industry by paid users. How do the top podcasts fare on a per country basis?

CountryTop PodcastHonorable Mention (Second Highest)
CanadaThe Joe Rogan ExperienceCall Her Daddy
FranceChoses a SavoirMythes et Legendes
UKThe Michelle Obama PodcastThe Joe Rogan Experience
GermanyGemischtes HackFest & Flauschig
ItalyBlu Notte - Fisteri ItalianiMushio Selvaggio
U.S.The Michelle Obama PodcastCall Her Daddy
Japankemioの耳そうじクラブHapa英会話 Podcast
AustraliaFrom The NewsroomThe Joe Rogan Experience
IndiaThe Michelle Obama PodcastPurijagannadh
IrelandThe Joe Rogan ExperienceThe 2 Johnnies Podcast
MexicoLeyendas LegendariasLa Cotorrisa
New ZealandThe Joe Rogan ExperienceCall Her Daddy
ArgentinaConcha PodcastEntiende Tu Mente
AustriaVerbrechenFest & Flauschig
BrazilNerdCastCafé da Manha
ChileTomas Va A MorirMatriarcalmente Hablando
ColombiaDianaUribe.fmDani 3Palacios Podcast
DenmarkMorkelandHer Gar Det Godt
FinlandPOKSJaliila
IndonesiaRintik SeduPODKESMAS
NorwayFriminutt med Herman og MikkelG-punktet
PhilippinesSleeping Pill with InkaAdulting With Joyce Pring
PolandKryminatoriumJa I moje przyjaciółki idiotki
SpainNadie Sabe NadaEntiende Tu Mente
SwedenP3 DokumentarSommar & Vinter i P1
NetherlandsZelfspodcastMan man man, de podcast

Many of the top shows around the world follow a familiar interview or conversational format, but there are trends that deviate from that formula. In particular, there are a number of podcasts focused on health and wellness as well as current events.

The early beginnings of podcasting were dominated by upstart content creators, but as the market has matured, big media outlets and A-list personalities have been vying for listeners’ attention in an increasingly crowded field. As it stands now, two podcasts from America carry a large presence in foreign markets, and the two big personalities—Michelle Obama and Joe Rogan—stand a notch above the rest.

The Rogan-Obama tug of war in the podcast realm has had its back and forths. Obama pulled ahead in many countries in August, but in September the pendulum swung in favor of Rogan.

Follow The Money

In 2015, ad revenue in the podcast industry was a minuscule $69 million across the board. It’s expected to reach over $1 billion by 2021, and to grow further from there.

podcast industry revenue

The podcast boom is powered by younger generations, and both millennials and Gen Z represent a sizable portion of the total podcast audience globally. In particular, demographic listenership numbers experience a big drop after the 35-54 age bracket.

podcast audience by age group

Flexibility and variety are key features that are helping fuel the growth of the medium. One can keep up with serious world affairs or listen to Call Her Daddy—a podcast on sex and relationships by Barstool Sports, another podcast that frequently tops the charts.

Top Podcast Publishers by U.S. Audience

When it comes to key participants in the industry, National Public Radio (NPR) sits on the top spot with over 26 million unique monthly audience members. In close second, iHeartRadio holds a whopping 494 shows.

Podcast PublisherU.S. Unique Monthly AudienceGlobal Downloads & StreamsActive Shows
NPR26,933,000219,716,00049
iHeartRadio26,182,000234,417,000494
New York Times13,102,000145,961,00015
Barstool Sports10,228,00067,569,00043
PRX9,035,00082,245,00087
Wondery8,794,00057,261,00098
ESPN/ABC8,472,00066,685,00096
NBC News6,751,00044,219,00026
Cumulus Media/Westwood One6,473,00040,912,000115
Warner Media6,350,00033,503,000113
This American Life/Serial5,924,00022,722,0002
Kast Media5,319,00030,353,00046
Daily Wire5,212,000
43,342,0005
WNYC Studios5,209,00035,381,00052
All Things Comedy4,890,00028,770,00058
TED3,739,00051,696,00010
American Public Media3,362,00017,997,00050
Fox News Radio2,518,00013,633,00034
Slate1,951,00013,812,00097
WBUR1,105,0006,758,00018

If you’re bullish on podcasts, many in the top 20 are publicly traded entities who either stand alone, or are part of a larger corporation. Notable stocks include the New York Times, ESPN as part of Disney, and Warner Media as part of AT&T.

Spotify Today and Tomorrow

Spotify’s direct listing IPO was initially met with a lack of confidence, due to Big Tech’s entry in the space, as well as the profitability and monetization concerns that typically plague the music industry as a whole. However, the company has done well in abating those concerns, especially if you consider Spotify’s stock price, which has doubled in the last year. An impressive 21% of Spotify’s monthly active users engage with podcast content.

In addition, a wealth of personalities have entered the podcasting space. These big names suggest that the competition is dialing up.

In recent months, an exclusive deal between Spotify and Joe Rogan, valued at over $100 million took the podcasting world by storm. This is quite a monumental step for the podcast timeline, and one that suggests more deals could follow as Spotify looks to lock people into their platform with exclusivity deals.

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Here’s What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020

A lot can happen in an internet minute. This graphic looks at the enormous numbers behind the online services billions use every day.

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What Happens Every Minute on the Internet in 2020

In 2020, an unfathomable amount of digital activity is occurring at any given moment. This ongoing explosion in activity is the aggregate output of 4.5 billion internet users today, a number that’s projected to increase even further in coming years.

This powerful visual from Domo helps capture what happens each minute in today’s hyper-connected internet era, and it’s actually the eighth edition produced since the year 2012.

What can we learn from the evolution of what happens in an internet minute?

How Times Have Changed

Over its relatively short history, the internet has been a catalyst for both the rise and demise of new companies and platforms.

By looking at which brands have appeared in the graphic in earlier years, we can roughly chart the prominence of certain tech segments, as well as observe brands with the most staying power.

data never sleeps wheel over time

As you can see above, platforms like Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare showed some promise, but eventually got omitted from the graphic as they dropped off in relevance.

Meanwhile, tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google have had impressive staying power, evolving to become some of the biggest companies in the world. In the process, they’ve caught up to longer-standing titans like Apple and Microsoft at the top of the food chain.

The New “New Thing”

Not surprisingly, much of the internet landscape looks different in 2020. Here are a few of the digital hot spots today.

Cash Transfers
Nearly $240,000 worth of transactions occur on Venmo per minute. This has served as a catalyst for parent company PayPal, which evolved along successfully with fintech trends. PayPal’s stock now trades at near all-time highs.

E-Commerce
Even before COVID-19 resulted in shuttered storefronts and surging online orders, e-commerce was a booming industry. It’s now estimated that $1 million is now spent per minute online. Amazon ships an astounding 6,659 packages every minute to keep up with this demand.

Collaboration Tools
In a predominantly remote-working environment, tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams host 208,333 and 52,083 users each minute respectively. Particularly in the pandemic era, it seems that this trend is here to stay.

Accelerated Turnover

The accelerated world we are in today means that many companies do not sustain a competitive advantage for as long. Social media companies have dwindled as observed above, and this is similarly reflected in the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company.

A typical company’s tenure on the S&P 500 is expected to shrink rapidly in the next few years:

  • 1964: 33 years
  • 2016: 24 years
  • 2027E: 12 years

Companies are shaving anywhere between 15-20 years off those highs, with estimates of further declines. This metric symbolizes the rapid evolution of the business landscape.

What Lies Ahead

It’s seemingly easy to forget mankind is still very early in the developments when it comes to the internet. But in this short period, its rise to prominence and the broad digitization of the world has left us with a very eventful timeline.

If the last decade serves as a reference point, one can expect further and intensifying competition among tech companies. After all, the reward—winning in today’s digital economy—reaps much greater value.

All signs point to internet activity advancing to further heights, if not because of 5G and its associated breakthroughs, then perhaps due to the steady rise in people gaining internet access.

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