Facts of the matter: Recorded music
Painting Music with Light by Mirza Ajanovic (not for reuse)
É douard-Léon Scott de Martinville made the first known musical recording, called a phonautogram, on 9 April 1860. While trying to capture a visual representation of sound waves, he recorded himself singing the French song “Au Clair de la Lune.”
- In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. It used recordings created on tinfoil, which was wrapped around a cylinder. These recordings lasted for only a few plays. Ten years later, Emile Berliner patented a recording device that used discs instead of cylinders. These first records were made of glass, then zinc, then rubber, and eventually shellac. Berliner called the device a gramophone. The discs he created were the first sound recordings that could be mass produced.
- Around the turn of the 20th century, Berliner persuaded several famous musical artists, including Enrico Caruso and Dame Nellie Melba, to record on his machine. He also worked with Eldridge Johnson, who in 1901 founded the Victor Talking Machine Company (later acquired by RCA). Johnson chose a trademark depicting a Jack Russell terrier named Nipper listening to a phonograph. It became one of the most recognized trademarks in the world, and is still in use today.
- By 1910, most discs were 10 or 12 inches in diameter and recorded at approximately 78 rpm; in 1925, that became the standard speed. Advances in recording technology allowed for slower recording speeds without sacrificing fidelity, and in 1931, Columbia Records made an unsuccessful attempt to introduce the LP (for “long-playing”) at 33 1/3 rpm.
- I n 1948, Columbia introduced the microgroove LP, which became the industry standard. The first LP released in this format was Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, featuring soloist Nathan Milstein, and Bruno Walter conducting the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York. In February 1949, RCA countered with the 45 rpm, launching a war of formats that lasted until 1951, when the companies started using both of them, making 78s obsolete.
- RCA released the first 45s in a seven-disc set that included recordings in seven categories: popular, classical, popular classics, children’s, country and western, blues and rhythm, and international.
- Competing magnetic recording tape formats – the compact cassette and the 8-track – were introduced in 1963 and 1965. In 1982, the compact disc, which used digital recording technology, was introduced.
- Digital music downloads did not generate revenue for the U.S. recording industry in 2003, but sales in other formats brought in $11.9 billion. In 2012, revenue from digital music downloads will total at least $5.3 billion, and revenue from other formats will total at least $4.9 billion.