It’s pretty impressive how far music has come, on the consumer level. We’ve gone from live music to radio to records to 8 tracks to tapes to cds to simple data. Though many consider the rise of the MP3 player to be when digital music really took off (a claim which has a fair amount of merit), it all began back in 1987. It was Karlheinz Brandenburg who kick started everything when he chose Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner to be the first song to fine tune his MP3 compression algorithm.
As you likely know, an MP3 is an audio file (and MP4 is a common video file). Brandenburg picked the a cappella version of song because the human voice was the hardest to compress into MP3, and so the challenge helped him to refine his codec. It was that moment that served as the root of the digital music revolution.
Today, 23% of all music purchases are digital in the US, and services like YouTube and Pandora have helped to remove music sales from many consumers, causing the music industry to be less and less profitable every year. If you haven’t heard Tom’s Diner, you can listen below.