Start Date
Place
Notes
Source
1737
France
Frenchman Jacques de Vaucanson created a
mechanical, flute playing “android.”
http://timelines.ws August 2006
1860
France
Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de
Martinville captured 10-second clip of a woman
singing "Au Clair de la Lune,” using a
phonautograph, a device that created visual
recordings of sound waves.
http://timelines.ws August 2006
1887
US
Edison's vertical tube recording system produces
distorted sound because of gravity's pressure on
the playing stylus. Emile Berliner, a German
immigrant living in Washington, DC, invents a
process for recording sound on a horizontal disc.
The "platter" record is born.
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA99/grogan/thes
is/Timeline2.html June 2009
1894
US
Emile Berliner sells 1,000 gramophones, 25,000
records.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu October
2006
1897
US
Edwin S. Votey, patents his self-playing piano,
which he calls the pianola. The instrument uses
instructions recorded on perforated paper to
drive a set of artificial wooden fingers poised
above a piano keyboard. Later versions placed
the entire mechanism inside the body of the
piano, eliminating the fingers.
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA99/grogan/thes
is/Timeline2.html November 2007
Dec 1898
Germany
In Germany Emil and Joseph Berliner founded
Deutsche Grammophon, dedicated to
manufacturing the gramophone record and player
invented by Emil.
http://timelines.ws July 2006
1900
Canada
Sound recordings were first manufactured in
Canada in 1900 by the Berliner Gramophone
Company in Montreal, from masters recorded by
the company's European and US companies.
Canadian Encyclopedia
1900
US
Phonograph cylinders continue to outsell discs by
wide margin.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2006
Apr 1909
UK
The first large-scale orchestral gramophone
recording was made. London Palace Orchestra
conducted by Hermann Finck made
Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite in London for
German Odeon Company. The recordings took
three days to complete at a reported (but
questionable) cost of 'upwards of £800'; four
double-sided discs in a special album sold for
16s (80p).
http://www.terramedia.co.uk October 2006
1913
UK
An estimated 341f British households own a
phonograph.
http://www.caslon.com June 2007
1920
International
By the 1920s, sonatas, symphonies, and operas
were being recorded in full, and the packages in
which they appeared - typically several 12-inch
recording in a bound 'book' of record sleeves -
came to be called albums.
Harvard Dictionary of Music
1929
Germany
In Germany, magnetic sound recording on plastic
tape.
http://timelines.ws October 2008
1930
US
The popularity of radios causes a decline in the
sales of records.
http://www.scaruffi.com September 2007
1935
Germany
Audio tape recorders go on sale.
http://timelines.ws October 2006
1935
US
By the mid-1930s, the Music Corporation of
America (MCA) controlled many of the country's
most popular bands, from Tommy Dorsey to Artie
Shaw.
Brownstein, Power, P. 181
1939
US
There were 300,000 jukeboxes in the US.
http://www.ketupa.net October 2007
1940
International
By the early 1940s, jazz fans could buy
multirecord sets featuring Louise Armstrong, Bix
Beiderbecke, Earl Hines, Bessie Smith, and
other artists in performances recorded during the
1920s and 1930s.
Harvard Dictionary of Music
1942
US
400,000 jukeboxes had been installed in the US.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk October 2006
1942
US
RCA Victor sprayed gold over Glenn Miller's
million-copy-seller Chattanooga Choo Choo,
creating the first "gold record."
http://www.infoplease.com November 2006
1945
US
Captain. John Mullin [US soldier] "liberates" two
German tape recorders; starts U.S. industry.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu July 2006
1948
US
Columbia Records introduces the 33 1/3 LP
("long playing") record at New York's Waldorf-
Astoria Hotel. It allows listeners to enjoy an
unprecedented 25 minutes of music per side,
compared to the four minutes per side of the
standard 78 rpm record.
http://www.infoplease.com/ipea/A0151192.ht
ml January 2007
1949
US
45 rpm records are sold in the U.S.
http://www.infoplease.com/ipea/A0151192.ht
ml
1949
US
The 1943 original stage cast recording of
Oklahoma! was issued on LP; it sold 1.75m by
1956 and 2.5m by 1960.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk August 2006
07 Apr 1949
US
The original cast recording was made of the
latest Rodgers-Hammerstein stage show, South
Pacific. By 1958 it sold a million copies. It was
claimed to be the first LP to achieve such sales
and then sales accelerated: 2.25m by 1960 and
3m by 1963. It stays in the US charts for 427
consecutive weeks-over eight years.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk July 2006
1950
UK
Decca introduced the British LPs in 1950.
Oxford Companion to Music
31 Aug 1951
Germany
The first 33 1/3 (LP) album was introduced in
Dusseldorf.
http://timelines.ws July 2006
1954
US
Pre-recorded open-reel stereo tapes go on sale,
$12.95, from RCA Victor.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu October
2007
1955
International
The power of young money may be measured by
the sales of records in the USA which rose from
$277 million in 1955 when rock appeared, to six
hundred millions in 1959 and two thousand
millions in 1973. Every member of the five to
nineteen-year age-group in the USA spent at
least five times as much on records in 1970 as in
1955. The richer the country, the greater the
record business; youngsters in the USA, Sweden,
West Germany, the Netherlands and Britain spent
between seven and ten times as much per head
as those in poorer but rapidly developing
countries like Italy and Spain.
Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes, P. 328
Jan 1955
US
The average price of LPs in the USA is cut to
$3.98.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk June 2006
22 Nov 1955
US
RCA Victor's made its best investment paying
$25,000 to Sun Records & Sam Philips for rights
to Elvis Presley, a truck driver from Tupelo, Miss.
http://timelines.ws October 2007
05 Jan 1956
US
Elvis Presley, truck driver, began his first
recording session for RCA. "Heartbreak Hotel,"
written by Mae Boren Axton, was the first song
recorded. It became the first of his 45 records to
sell over a million copies. The second was "I
Want You, I Need You, I Love You", and "I Was
the One" was the third.
http://timelines.ws October 2007
01 Jun 1956
US
Doris Day signed a five-year recording contract
with Columbia Records worth $1 million.
http://timelines.ws October 2007
28 Sep 1956
US
RCA Records reported Elvis Presley sold over
10 million records.
http://timelines.ws October 2007
1960
Canada
Before 1960 nearly all records sold in Canada
were of non-Canadian performers.
Canadian Encyclopedia
02 Jan 1960
US
Federal Trade Commission issues complaints
against seven record Companies and eight
distributing firms charging them with payment of
payola to disc jockeys for airing certain records.
Nelson and Parker, The Sixties
19 May 1960
US
Alan Freed 38 the disc jockey who reputedly
coined the term rock and roll is arrested in New
York on charges of accepting payola bribes from
record companies.
Nelson and Parker, The Sixties
25 May 1960
US
FCC announces that 28 of 72 record companies
accused of making payola payment have agreed
in writing to cease the practice.
Nelson and Parker, The Sixties
1963
International
Ray Dolby, while working in India, conceived of
separating recorded sound into 2 channels as a
means to strip away unwanted tape recording
noise. His first prototype was completed in
London in 1966.
http://timelines.ws September 2006
1963
US
Sony offers an open-reel videotape recorder for
the home, $995.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu October
2006
1966
Greece
Sotiria Bellou (d.1997), a folksinger who sang in
the "rembetiko" style, released a series of
records featuring old songs in this style.
http://timelines.ws September 2006
01 Jun 1967
International
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, was
released in the UK. and the following day in the
U.S. and was certified "gold" [million copies sold]
the same day of release. It topped the charts all
over the world, holding the number one slot in
Britain for 27 weeks and for 19 in America. It
received four Grammys including Best Album.
http://timelines.ws September 2006
1970
US
After circa 1970 a distinct Native American
record industry has been established, including
several large and a number of small independent
recording labels producing LPs, audiotapes, and
CDs largely for the Native American market,
providing an intertribal repertory of traditional and
modernized music.
Harvard Dictionary of Music
1974
International
Jerome Lemelson (d. 1997 at 74) licensed
patents for his audio cassette drive mechanism
to Sony Corp. Sony was founded after the war by
Masaru Ibuka (d.1997 at 89), Akio Morita and
others as a radio shop that was later renamed
Sony.
http://timelines.ws September 2007
1974
US
A Washington D.C.-based women’s collective
with no experience in music production founds
Olivia Records which becomes the most
successful lesbian-feminist recording label ever.
http://www.ncsu.edu/stud_affairs/glbt/pdfs/Ti
melineomplete-Updated.pdf
January 2011
1975
Germany
Richard Weize of Hamburg founded Bear Family
Records, dedicated to the preservation of
American country music.
http://timelines.ws September 2007
1983
International
With the introduction of noise-free compact discs,
the vinyl record begins a steep decline.
http://www.infoplease.com June 2008
1983
US
Audio music cassettes outsell LP records.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu May 2007
Mar 1983
Japan
Compact Disc recordings, introduced by Phillips
and Sony in Europe in 1982, were introduced to
the US.
http://timelines.ws July 2007
1985
US
Michael Jackson released Thriller, which sold
more than 25 million copies, becoming the
biggest-selling album in history.
http://www.infoplease.com June 2008
1986
Canada
Figures compiled for 1986 indicate that the
recording industry accounts for roughly 15,000
employees in Canada, with 65 203635580n retail, 5 1632352n
distribution, and 30 7159862n production (including the
creative artists - composers, songwriters, and
performers).
Canadian Encyclopedia
1986
Canada
Retail sales of records in Canada in 1986 were
valued at approximately $600 million.
Canadian Encyclopedia
18 Nov 1987
International
CBS Inc. announced it had agreed to sell its
records division to Sony Corp. for about $2
billion.
http://timelines.ws March 2008
1988
US
CDs outsold vinyl records for the first time.
http://www.infoplease.com June 2008
1989
US
The recording industry today is an international,
billion-dollar enterprise. In the US alone, more
than 1200 companies are producing and
releasing records, tapes, and discs;
approximately 2600 different labels are sold; 60,
000 stores exist; and in any one year, as many as
2600 singles will be released. The United States
is the largest consumer of recorded music with
approximately 36404f the world market.
Bittner, Mass, P. 184
1992
US
Compact discs surpassed cassette tapes as the
preferred medium for recorded music.
http://www.infoplease.com October 2007
1994
US
3 out of 4 hardcore rap albums sold in the US are
purchased by white people.
Harper's Index
1995
US
Portable CD player sales overtake cassette
players.
http://www.caslon.com May 2008
Aug 1997
India
A.R. Rahman launched his first non-movie album
"Vande Mataram" (Salute to the Motherland) to
coincide with the 50-year anniversary of
independence from Britain. He was the first
Indian artist signed by Sony Records.
http://timelines.ws August 2006
Nov 1997
US
Michael Robertson launched MP3.com after
noticing the growing frequency with which users
of his Filez search engine were including 'MP3' in
their searches.
Encyclopedia of New Media, P. 324
1998
International
In 1998, online music sales totaled $87 million; in
2005, they are projected to reach some $4
billion.
McChesney, RIch, P. 178
1998
International
The world's music market is worth 38 billion
dollars. The five "majors" control 95 percent of
the albums sold in the world and 84 percent of
the 755 million albums sold in the USA: 1.
Universal with 27 percent (26.3 percent in the
USA), 2. Warner with 20 percent (15.7 percent),
3. Sony with 18 percent (16.2 percent), 4. EMI
with 16 percent (9.4 percent), 5. BMG with 14
percent (16 percent).
http://www.scaruffi.com September 2007
1998
US
Already in 1998 the Internet Underground Music
Archive posts the works of some twenty-five
hundred artists, charging 99 cents to users who
wish to download to their computers using MP3
software.
McChesney, RIch, P. 179
20 Aug 1998
US
The German heavy-metal band Rammstein was
reported to be making a hit in the US with their
“Sehnsucht” (yearning) album.
http://timelines.ws August 2006
1999
International
The merger of two major recording labels,
Universal and Polygram, caused upheaval in the
recording industry. It was estimated that the new
company, Universal Music Group, controlled 25
percent of the worldwide music market.
http://www.infoplease.com July 2009
1999
International
The music world is ruled by five majors: 1.
Universal, 2. Warner/Elektra/ Sire/Atlantic, 3.
Sony/ Columbia/Epic, 4. EMI/Virgin/Capitol/
Chrysalis, 5. BMG/Jive/Private/American/
Windham Hill.
http://www.scaruffi.com August 2006
1999
International
The USA accounts for 37 percent of world sales,
Japan for 16.7 percent, Britain for 7.6 percent,
Germany for 7.4 percent, France for 5.2 percent,
Canada for 2.3 percent, Australia for 1.7 percent,
Brazil for 1.6 percent, Holland for 1.5 percent,
Italy for 1.4 percent.
http://www.scaruffi.com August 2007
1999
International
The world's music market is worth 38 billion
dollars. The five "majors" control 95 percent of
the albums sold in the world and 84 percent of
the 755 million albums sold in the USA: 1.
Universal with 27 percent (26.3 percent in the
USA), 2. Warner with 20 percent (15.7 percent),
3. Sony with 18 percent (16.2 percent), 4. EMI
with 16 percent (9.4 percent), 5. BMG with 14
percent (16 percent).
http://www.scaruffi.com August 2006
2000
International
But even these profits [of the movie sector] are
dwarfed by music, the largest global media
sector. In 2000, sales reached US$37 billion,
with music consumption high among young
audiences everywhere.
http://www.media-awareness.ca August
2006
2000
US
National Recording Preservation Act establishes
the National Recording Registry and the National
Recording Preservation Board.
http://www.culturescope. ca/american-
timelines August 2006
2001
International
62 albums released by the Universal group sell
more than 1 million copies in 2001.
http://www.scaruffi.com August 2006
2001
US
Artists were invited to post MP3s of their music
on the site free of charge. By early 2001, nearly
145,000 artists offered almost one million songs
for free download. While it initially made money
through advertising, MP3.com later sold CDs by
member artists, and broke sharply with music
industry standards by splitting profits 50-50 with
the artist.
Encyclopedia of New Media, P. 324
2001
US
Napster ordered by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
to block copyrighted music.
http://www.caslon.com October 2006
2002
Italy
Francesco Sbano co-produced a new malavita
(mafia folk music) CD: "La Musica della Mafia."
http://timelines.ws September 2006
2003
International
The iTunes music store offers tunes for 99 cents.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2007
2003
International
The so-called 'Big Five' were Warner (US), BMG
(German), Sony (Japanese), EMI (British) and
Universal (French).
Fraser, Weapons of Mass Distraction, P.
186
2003
International
Universal reduces the price of CDs by 30
http://www.scaruffi.com September 2006
2003
US
Apple introduces the on-line music service
"iTunes", which sells 25 million songs by
December.
http://www.scaruffi.com September 2006
2003
US
CD sales decrease 2 percent, from 649.5 million
units in 2002 to 635.8 million units in 2003.
http://www.scaruffi.com September 2006
2004
US
143 millions songs are downloaded legally in the
USA.
http://www.scaruffi.com August 2006
09 Nov 2004
US
American Express and MSN announced that an
agreement to deliver free music downloads
through the MSN Music service to American
Express consumer Card members residing in the
United States had been reached.
http://www.microsoft.com July 2008
2005
International
Apple began to make short-form videos-mainly
music tracks-available for download through its
iTunes Store on 12 October. Individual videos
cost $1.99 in the US and £1.89 in the UK. Over
1m downloads were sold by the end of the month.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk January 2007
2005
US
CD sales decrease 7 percent in the USA to
$602.2 million, while music downloads more than
doubled from $134 million to $332 million.
http://www.scaruffi.com July 2008
12 Oct 2005
International
Apple began to make short-form videos-mainly
music tracks-available for download through its
iTunes Store on 12 October. Individual videos
cost $1.99 in the US and £1.89 in the UK. Over
1m downloads were sold by the end of the month.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk July 2008
2006
Europe
The European Court of First Instance annuls the
European Commission's approval of 2004
merger between Sony Music and BMG.
http://www.ketupa.net September 2007
2006
International
Apple Computer 'sold a record 14 million iPod
music players in the fourth quarter … a leap from
4.5 million in the same period of 2004,' as
reported by AFP.
Epoch Times Canada 8-14 June, 2007
2006
International
Global digital music sales double to about $2bn
http://www.scaruffi.com July 2008
2006
International
The International Federation of the Phonographic
Industry reported 2006 digital download sales
doubled to $2 billion, but that this growth would
slow and the "holy grail" of digital overtaking CD
sales would not yet be reached.
http://www.paidcontent.org September 2007
2006
US
Sales from music downloads in the U.S. have
ballooned 77 per cent in the first half of 2006
compared to the same period last year,
according to new figures. Neilsen Soundscan, an
independent research company, says there were
more than 14 million full-album downloads
purchased from Jan. 2 to July 2, 2006. That is
more than double the 6.5 million bought during
the same time in 2005. By contrast, total sales of
albums fell by 4.2 per cent: 270.6 million in the
first six months of 2006 compared to 282.6
million in the same time last year. Geoff Mayfield,
director of music charts for the magazine
Billboard, said the slight drop in album sales was
"not that bad" considering that there weren't
many superstars acts launching albums in 2006.
Mayfield says the recording industry is still
playing catch up. "It's a changing dynamic that the
industry still needs to get its arms around." Music
fans still preferred to pick their favorite songs
rather than full albums, downloading nearly 281
million singles. A majority of songs downloaded,
about eight out of 10, were older songs. Sales of
country music albums got a huge boost while
album sales of rap and R&B were down
compared to 2005. Top selling albums include
those by James Blunt, Mary J. Blige, Carrie
Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Canadian band
Nickelback. The top three music companies in
terms of overall sales are Universal Music Group,
Sony BMG and Warner Music Group.
http://www.cbc.ca 8 July 2006
07 Sep 2006
International
Vivendi's Universal Music agrees to acquire
BMG Music Publishing in a $2 billion deal. The
acquisition will make Universal's music
publishing holdings the largest in the world.
http://www.commoncause.org October 2008
2007
International
All four majors (Universal, EMI, Warner and Sony)
start selling their music on Amazon's digital-
music store in the unprotected mp3 format.
http://www.scaruffi.net January 2007
01 Oct 2007
UK
Universal's "creeping dominance" of the UK
music sector must be investigated, the UK's
independent music labels say. Trade body AIM
made the claim in a submission to the Office of
Fair Trading concerning Universal's recent
takeover of Richard Branson's V2 label. The £7m
($14m) V2 deal saw Paul Weller and
Stereophonics move to Universal. "We are
satisfied the V2 acquisition is pro-competitive,
and our voluntary filing with the Office of Fair
Trading reflects this," said Universal. AIM says
Universal's takeover of V2 will further marginalise
independents, stifle competition and limit
consumer choice. Universal, the world's biggest
music group, now has a roster of burgeoning UK
talent including Kate Nash, the Kaiser Chiefs and
Mercury Music prize winners The Klaxons.
However, AIM also pointed to Vivendi-owned
Universal's recent £44.5m takeover of struggling
UK music group Sanctuary as further evidence of
its dominance in the music sector. Last week,
Universal Music enjoyed a 55market share of
UK artist album sales, while AIM - which has 800
members - says its current retail market share is
around 20 As a result smaller labels are
getting restricted access to radio, TV and other
outlets, AIM added.
BBC October 2007
2008
Canada
The industry has long claimed that the legislative
changes are needed to support the development
of a digital marketplace in Canada. The 2008
Canadian sales data reveal that laws are not the
issue as Canada experienced a 58 percent
increase in sales of digital tracks last year. That
figure is more than double the U.S. growth of 27
percent and, incredibly, marks the third
consecutive year that Canada has outpaced the
U.S. in digital music sales growth.
http://www.michaelgeist.ca August 2010
2009
International
A new report from research firm Enders Analysis
forecasts global music sales will fall to $23 billion
in 2009 - 16 percent below last year's sales [i.e.
2007) and about half the 1997 peak of $45
billion.
http://www.paidcontent.org November 2010
2009
International
Eminem's new track, Crack a Bottle, which also
features Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, has set a new
record for digital downloads. Billboard says the
song sold 418,000 downloads in its first week.
The previous record of 335,000 was set in
October 2008 by T. I. and Rihanna's Live your
Life.
Edmonton Journal, 15 February 2009
2013
US
According to a report by Forrester Research, US
digital music sales - downloads and
subscriptions - will grow at a compound annual
growth rate of 17 per cent over the next five years,
putting digital music on track to make up 41 per
cent of music markets in 2013. The growth in
these purchases won't compensate for the
decline in CD sales, leaving the overall music
market shrinking by a compound annual growth
rate of 0.8 per cent, to $9.8 billion US in 2013.
Edmonton Journal, 28 March 2009
Sound Recording Timeline
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