A brief history of over 30 music formats


How do you listen to music? Because, as we all know, it currently exists in multiple saved formats and has been available on a myriad of others.

Truly, from the very first recordings, we have continually sought out the best ways to reproduce them for ourselves and others. Are we close to finding the winner?

You may even have experimented with multiple formats in your lifetime. Which started you on your musical journey? Many now enjoy digital music streaming. But just a few decades ago, a recording could only be played back through tangible and physical formats. And even before digital, these formats were purely analog.

But let’s jump to the present. Lately, there has been a lot of talk about music formats in general. Is streaming ruining the industry? Are compact discs back? Even the cassette is experiencing a resurgence, especially in indie and underground circles.

All this to say that now is the perfect time to take a look at the fascinating history of popular music media. From the initial wax cylinder to thumb drives in gummy skulls, there’s a lot to learn about music formats. Are you ready to dive?

Keep reading below for a chronological breakdown of the music formats that made us. Who knows where the future of the music format will take us next?

A brief history of recorded music formats

Music formats, from the first wax cylinders of yesteryear to today’s modern streaming services…

BONUS: Weird and Wonderful Unique Music Formats

These formats have never been in large scale production, but wow, are they something…


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