How Has Technological Advancement Made Music More Accessible To The Public?

Timeline created by Tyler White
In Music
  • Introduction

    Technology is ever changing, and with that so is the way we have gained access to music. We are going to go on a journey through the last century plus to see how technology has evolved to make music more accessible to the common human.
  • The Phonograph

    The Phonograph
    Thomas Edison invented the Phonograph in 1877. The Phonograph worked by producing sound into a horn while a tin foil-covered cylinder was rotated using a handle. The vibrations shook a needle and recorded the audio on the foil. This was the first time music, or anything, would be recorded. You could only listen to the recording once & it didn't have the best sound quality.
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    Summary of the End of the 19th Century

    At the end of the 19th century, music was finally out on recordings. They sound quality was not the best, but it was out there. It was still in a limited capacity, either only being able to listen to a recording once, or multiple times, you still didn't have the variety in which you have today.
  • The Graphophone

    The Graphophone
    Alexander Graham Bell seems to perfect the phonograph by using a wax cylinder so it could be played many times, patenting it as the Graphophone.
  • Gramophone

    Two years later Emile Berliner invented the gramophone. It was the first device to record on flat glass discs and could be duplicated. As you can see, even in the late 1800's each new device was taking the old and tweaking it to make it a little easier for the consumer to have accessibility to more music.
  • Predecessor to the Jukebox

    Predecessor to the Jukebox
    Since the Phonograph's invention, Edison continued to update in an attempt to keep up with the Graphophone and Gramophone. The Automatic Phonograph Exhibition Company released a patent on a device that let companies exhibit phonographs with a coin-slot attachment, like a jukebox. Through 1890, companies began realizing that entertainment was better business than dictation, and the automatic machine was the most effective way to accomplish this.
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    Music Business in the early 1900's

    Until the 1920's, the music business was dominated by song publishers, vaudeville, and theater, not by major record labels. Sheet music consistently outsold records of the same songs, proving that most of music heard in homes & in public was played by people, not records. A hit song’s sheet music often sold in the millions between 1910 and 1920. Recorded versions of the songs were at first just seen as a way to promote the sheet music, and usually released after sheet music sales began to fall.
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    Between 1900-1940 records continued to be updated and used. They went from tin foil on a cylinder, to glass, to vinyl, and the sound quality continued to improve. During this time radio also starting getting more popular, but did not reach it's peak until we hit 1940.
  • Sousa's Beef with Recorded Music

    Sousa's Beef with Recorded Music
    Sousa saw where music recording was going and didn't like it. One reason was that he feared recording would cause a social decline & that people would stop making music together. He feared the military would be lead into battle with a machine instead of a marching band. Another reason being that he was concerned for composers rights. Producers of mechanical instruments such as the self playing piano did not have to pay royalties for songs they played, and Sousa was often recorded by other bands.
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    Issues with the Radio

    Stations felt live music sounded better than records on air. Musicians’ unions still asked President Hoover to ban records on air, & he did saying the radio should be used for the public good, including making jobs for musicians. The record industry feared people wouldn't buy records and just listen for free. Concert promoters feared the same. A famous violinist sold 3000 tickets for a concert that a station later said would be aired live. When ticket holders heard this, many asked for a refund.
  • The Car Radio

    The Car Radio
    The first car radio was introduced in the 1920's, but in 1930 GM made it popular. The first commercialized car radio was called "The Motorola." This was the first time music could be considered "portable."
  • The Radio

    The Radio
    The most popular way to listen to music, the news, or even hear presidential debates live during the 40's was through the radio. It quickly became the best way provide entertainment.
    Long example
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    A Turning Point In Listening To Music

    The radio and the jukebox begin to dominate during this time. Records had moved away from being made of wax/glass and were now vinyl. This made making records easier & more people were now able to enjoy listening to music at home, as well as being out. You could listen and dance to music at the diner or club, or in your living room. We now have access to a variety of music & talk shows, but we still are not portable (besides the car radio) & we still are not quite listening independently.
  • The Jukebox

    The Jukebox
    In the 1950s, jukeboxes were everywhere across America, in diners, cafes, & nightclubs. There were more that 700,000 across the U.C.
  • The 8-Track's Life Is Cut Short Because Of The Cassette Player

    The 8-Track's Life Is Cut Short Because Of The Cassette Player
    The 8-track did not have a long shelf life. Invented by Bill Lear in 1964, but was quickly killed by the cassette player, introduced in the early 1970's, allowing people to record their own audio using a similar device. In 1981, the cassette player was "the most eagerly wished-for of all gifts." It allowed people to listen to recorded music AND make their own recordings. Thus came the birth to the mix-tape era, in which people could record songs that they heard on the radio.
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    The Boombox was not only a way to listen to music, but also was quite the fashion statement in 1975. Finally you could walk around listening to your music! Because it was so loud, New York started issuing noise complaints. Thus came the portable cassette player, the walkman, who finally dethrones the record. Finally, you can listen to music on your own, with headsets. This theme of the portable music player continued with the change from cassettes, to CDs, and eventually to the MP3.
  • The Boombox

    The Boombox
    Quite possibly the most visibly iconic music listening devices, the boombox made its rise in the mid '70s as a way to play tunes anywhere, and loudly!
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    Compact Discs

    In 1982, we were introduced to CDs. The idea came from a meeting between Philips and Sony. They wanted something small & capable of holding about 74 minutes of audio. Sony's Disc-man came 2 years later. It was the smallest CD player produced & it's sound compared to most models. The CD quickly became the fastest growing home entertainment product in history. Sales surpassed those of vinyl records '88 and cassettes in '91. It's peak came in 2000, when nearly 2.5 billion CDs were bought worldwide.
  • Cassettes and the Walkman

    Cassettes and the Walkman
    In the '80s noise ordinances were introduced in major cities like New York. Soon, because of this, the cassette player would have a short reign. The Walkman did so well that by 1983, cassettes finally began to outsell vinyl records.
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    Napster and the MP3

    The digital age was the beginning of the end for CDs. Napster popularized the MP3 & allowed people to download & share music for free. Napster was forced to shut down in 2001 due to legal reasons. The digital era pushed on. In November 2001 Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPod. Costing $399, the first iPod held about 1,000 songs. Since 2001, Apple has introduced 5 different types of iPods. The company also released iTunes, its digital media player, in 2003.
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    The Digital Age

    The 21st century has seen the rise of YouTube, internet radio services like Pandora, and streaming services such as Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify. The most popular streaming service, Spotify, has more than 100 million paid subscribers. Although digital music sales increase every year, the overall shift away from physical units has cost the music industry billions of dollars.
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    Digital Age Distribution

    With better technology & faster data transfer, distribution of music has become easier & a lot of options are now available. Being connected to a global network helps musicians spread their music quicker. It has never been easier. Now you can send your music to a wide range of people from various countries, cultures, & backgrounds. This gives musicians an opportunity to experiment with their art. Whenever you want to listen, you can go to these platforms & listen to whatever you want.
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    2000 - Today

    We have moved to a nearly completely digital world. It's rare to go out & buy a CD anymore. Even the iPod is out of date. We use our phones for nearly everything. Most people have don't even download songs/albums but now stream everything on platforms such as Spotify & Pandora. Streaming has been controversial. Some say it's killing the music scene, but others say it's enhances/ pushes it to new levels. Listeners now have access to any music they want at their fingertips.
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    Modern Issues

    Creation, advertising, & distribution are now easier, but now there is risk of music piracy. More musicians can create & spread music with ease, but there are more chances of theft. There is a difference in budget of making home studio computer based music & a professional album. A professional record labelled album isn't cheap & musicians who work on professional albums now are risking money. People today find it easier & cheaper to download a single song rather than buying an entire album.
  • AR Rahman Quote:

    AR Rahman Quote:
    “Music purists love to spend hours going on about how digital music has completely ruined the art form, and that real music only exists in small, underground scenes. However, the reality is that thanks to these tech breakthroughs, for both the music fan & the music-maker, the creative process & listening to music are now easier, less constrained & more accessible than ever. We are living in a society that is dominated by digital age. We need to move beyond album covers.”
  • Conclusion

    The way audiences have listened to music has changed immensely over the last 100+ years. We have gone from listening to tin foil, to records on vinyl or the radio with family and friends, to cramming little speakers into our ears and listening on our own. The common goal throughout this time though was to get music into people's homes so more people have an opportunity to listen to the art form they love.