You’re a music lover, and you can’t help but feel nostalgia when you think about the golden era of vinyl records in the 1970s.
The thrill of flipping through stacks of albums at your local record store, admiring the gorgeous cover art, and then taking that precious vinyl home to savor its rich sound is an experience that’s hard to replicate today.
But have you ever wondered how much those classic records cost back in their heyday? How did prices compare to what we pay for music now? And what factors influenced these costs?
Step back into the 1970s – an iconic decade filled with bell bottoms, disco balls, and groundbreaking musical moments – as we explore the rise and fall of vinyl records during this period.
We’ll dive deep into popular albums’ prices and how they were affected by inflation, record clubs, labels’ marketing strategies, and more.
The Rise of Vinyl in the 1970s
You’d be amazed to see how vinyl took the world by storm in the 1970s, giving music lovers a new way to enjoy their tunes.
Vinyl production methods had improved significantly by this time, making it possible for records to have a better sound quality and longer playing times than ever before. This newfound accessibility made vinyl an attractive alternative to other music formats like cassette tapes and 8-track cartridges, also famous during this era.
The rise of vinyl was fueled by its superior sound and the counterculture movement that embraced progressive ideas and sought non-traditional ways of experiencing art. As a reflection of society’s desire for freedom and individuality, vinyl records became synonymous with self-expression in the 1970s.
Album covers often featured bold artwork mirrored the experimental nature of musicians at the time. Many artists used their album covers as a canvas for expressing political views or showcasing avant-garde design concepts. In addition, record stores became gathering places where people could discuss music, exchange ideas about social issues, or explore unique sounds from various corners of the globe.
The popularity of vinyl went hand-in-hand with innovations in audio technology like high-fidelity stereo equipment and powerful speakers that allowed listeners to appreciate their favorite albums’ sonic subtleties fully—this period marked a golden age for audiophiles who reveled in collecting rare pressings or discovering hidden gems among stacks of dusty records at secondhand shops.
The rise of vinyl in the 1970s created a new culture around listening to music that celebrated personal expression and fostered connections between people who shared similar tastes and values.
Popular Albums and Their Prices
In the ’70s, popular albums were priced around $5 to $10, depending on the artist and demand. Iconic album covers graced record store shelves, beckoning you to indulge in the latest tunes from your favorite artists.
Album sales milestones were reaching as more people embraced this newfound love for vinyl records. These prices may seem like a steal today, but considering inflation rates and average income during that period, it was still a significant investment for many music lovers.
As you thumbed through stacks of vinyl at your local record store, you might have come across some of the most popular albums of the decade: Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours,’ Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall,’ or Led Zeppelin’s ‘IV.’ Each album had unique artwork and gatefold design that further enticed potential buyers.
The anticipation of bringing home one of these precious gems was exhilarating; there was something truly magical about removing the plastic wrap and gently placing the needle onto the spinning record for that first listen. It wasn’t just about owning a piece of music history but about being part of an ever-growing community that cherished each note as if it were their anthem.
You would proudly display those albums on your shelf or wall – they became conversation starters and symbols of your taste in music. As time passed, records would continue to evolve musically and aesthetically, with new genres emerging and artists pushing boundaries in every possible way.
But no matter how much things changed over time, nothing could quite replicate that feeling from when you repurchased your first record in those golden days – when life seemed more straightforward, yet filled with endless possibilities waiting to be discovered through each spin on your turntable.
Comparing Costs: Then and Now
Nowadays, it’s fascinating to compare the prices of those classic vinyl albums from the past to what you’d find in today’s modern music landscape.
Vinyl affordability was a significant factor in the 1970s when records were the primary means of listening to music. A typical album back then would have cost around $5-$8, which may not seem like much now, but adjusting for inflation, that would be equivalent to about $20-$35 today.
The resurgence of vinyl in recent years has brought a similar price range for new releases and reissues, though collectors’ items or rare pressings can fetch considerably more.
Price comparisons reveal that while vinyl records might be on par with their historical counterparts when adjusted for inflation, other forms of music consumption have become much more affordable over time.
Digital downloads and streaming services offer an almost limitless library at your fingertips for a fraction of the cost compared to purchasing individual records in the ’70s. Moreover, access to millions of songs through various platforms enables listeners to explore different genres and discover new artists effortlessly – something virtually impossible during vinyl’s heyday.
So as you spin those classic tunes from decades gone by on your turntable or browse through rows of newly-pressed wax at your local record store, take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come and how some things have stayed delightfully familiar.
The joy and freedom found in discovering new music and connecting with old favorites are as powerful now as it was back then – whether experienced through vinyl or streamed instantly across devices. Embrace this passion for auditory exploration and let yourself get lost in all our fantastic sound world has to offer!
Influence of Inflation on Record Prices
Feeling the impact of inflation on record prices is like watching your favorite band perform live – it’s thrilling, nostalgic, and gives you a new perspective on something you already love. To truly understand how inflation affected record prices in the 1970s, we must consider historical trends and contextualize them within broader economic patterns.
Inflation calculation can help us compare the purchasing power of money during different periods, allowing us to make more informed comparisons between the cost of records then and now.
Significant economic changes, including high inflation rates, marked the 1970s. This period saw several oil crises that led to skyrocketing fuel costs and had ripple effects throughout various industries. The music industry was not immune to these influences; as production costs increased due to rising energy prices, so too did the price of vinyl records.
Additionally, artists began experimenting with longer albums that required higher-quality materials for manufacturing and distribution purposes, further driving up consumer costs.
To put this in context: if a record cost $5 in 1970 (which would be a reasonable price at the time), adjusting for inflation using today’s dollars would mean that the same record should cost around $33 now. However, it’s important to remember that average wages have also increased since then, so comparing these numbers directly may not give a complete picture of affordability or purchasing power.
Despite these differences, one thing remains clear: experiencing how inflation impacted record prices during the 1970s adds depth to our understanding of music history and broader economic trends from that iconic decade.
Factors Affecting the Price of Vinyl
You might be wondering what factors contribute to the varying prices of vinyl today, and it’s a fascinating mix of elements that can make collecting records an engaging and dynamic hobby.
In the 1970s, several key aspects affected the cost of records, which still holds today. For starters, vinyl manufacturing costs played a significant role in determining the retail price of albums. The production process involved creating a master recording, pressing multiple copies on vinyl discs, packaging them with eye-catching album art and sleeves, then shipping these products to eager consumers. As you can imagine, each step incurred expenses that ultimately impacted how much people paid for their favorite tunes.
Distribution channel influence was another essential element that shaped record prices in the 1970s. Record labels relied heavily on various forms of transportation – from trucks and planes to ships – to get their music into stores across the country and around the globe.
Retailers like mom-and-pop shops or large chain stores had markups that factored into how much customers shelled out for new releases or classic hits. Furthermore, as some artists gained popularity or specific music genres became trendy (think disco or punk rock), demand often skyrocketed for specific albums; this could lead to higher prices due to increased interest among collectors.
Nowadays, many collectors are rediscovering the allure of vinyl records as they seek tangible connections to their favorite artists and musical moments from decades past.
Like any collectible item market (e.g., stamps or vintage toys), rarity is crucial in determining value: limited edition pressings or original issues may fetch top dollar compared with reissued versions readily available at local record shops or online retailers. Similarly, an album’s historical significance adds an intangible worth beyond its physical attributes – think iconic LP covers like Pink Floyd’s ‘The Dark Side of The Moon’ or Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours.’
Ultimately though, whether you’re nostalgic for the sounds of the ’70s or just now discovering vinyl’s warm, rich audio quality, one thing’s for sure: collecting records remains a captivating pursuit that continues to connect music lovers across generations.
The Impact of Music Industry Trends
As a vinyl enthusiast, it’s essential to consider how music industry trends impact the value and demand for specific albums. Like the ebb and flow of ocean tides, artists’ popularity and genre preferences can shift dramatically, affecting your prized collection’s worth.
For instance, when streaming services gained popularity in recent years, many predicted the demise of physical formats; however, vinyl sales surged to their highest level since 1988, proving that some collectors will always cherish the tactile experience of spinning records on a turntable.
During the 1970s, several factors contributed to fluctuations in record prices:
- Music piracy: The advent of cassette tapes made it easier for people to copy albums illegally and share them with friends. This caused an increase in music piracy which subsequently led to lower sales figures for vinyl records.
- Genre diversity: The ’70s was an era marked by incredible genre diversity – from disco to punk rock, progressive rock to funk – leading collectors on a never-ending quest for new sounds and unique pressings.
- Inflation: High inflation rates during this period also affected consumer spending habits and ultimately impacted the cost of records.
The influence of these trends on vinyl pricing should not be underestimated as you explore your passion for collecting or investing in records from this iconic decade.
By understanding how music industry developments shaped consumer behaviors at that time, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions about which albums are worth seeking out – whether they’re rare finds or popular releases riding high on nostalgia waves.
So keep your eyes peeled and ears open because there’s always something new (or old) waiting just around the corner in the ever-evolving world of vinyl collecting!
Record Stores and Their Role in Pricing
There’s no denying that record stores play a pivotal role in determining vinyl prices and shaping collectors’ experiences.
Record store nostalgia is a significant factor in the recent vinyl resurgence, as those who grew up surrounded by crates of records can attest to the magic of discovering hidden gems and meeting fellow enthusiasts while browsing through stacks of vinyl.
In the 1970s, independent record stores were particularly influential in setting album prices, responding directly to local demand and trends. These neighborhood shops had their finger on the pulse of what music lovers wanted and needed, creating an authentic experience that many yearn for today.
During the 1970s, these small shops had more freedom to set prices than chain stores or department stores selling records. It allowed them to offer competitive pricing and special deals on popular albums or new releases, attracting customers who were passionate about music but also budget-conscious.
This combination of personalized service, expert knowledge of artists and genres, and affordable pricing made visiting your local record shop a truly unique journey into musical discovery—a far cry from today’s online shopping experience.
As you delve back into this era when vinyl ruled supreme, it’s essential to remember how integral these small businesses were in shaping our access to music during those times. They provided us with physical copies of our favorite tunes and served as vibrant community hubs to connect with like-minded individuals over shared musical interests.
The Role of Album Artwork in Pricing
During the 1970s, many iconic album covers were released, showcasing unique and captivating designs that caught your eye and invited you into an immersive journey with each spin of the record. The ’70s saw an explosion of creativity in music and visual arts as musicians sought innovative ways to express themselves and connect with their audiences.
This era brought us unforgettable masterpieces such as Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ The Beatles‘ ‘Abbey Road,’ Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album (often referred to as ‘IV’ or ‘Zoso’), Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours,’ among others—all boasting distinctive and memorable cover art. Creative packaging was integral to these releases; it conveyed meaning beyond decoration. For instance, gatefold sleeves allowed for larger images or narratives, while die-cut covers added depth by revealing visually striking elements beneath.
As you thumb through stacks of records at a local shop or peruse online listings, keep an eye out for those standout covers from the 1970s that have become synonymous with their respective albums and artists. These pieces contribute significantly to a record’s price and serve as relics from when artistic expression knew no bounds—when artists pushed boundaries in pursuit of freedom both musically and visually.
Album art remains an essential aspect of vinyl collecting today—a testament to how much it shaped our perception of music during this revolutionary decade.
The Shift from Singles to Albums
As you’ve seen, album artwork played a significant role in the pricing of records during the 1970s. But it wasn’t just about the visuals; there was also a notable shift in the music industry at the time – the transition from singles to albums as the preferred format for consumers. This change not only affected how people enjoyed their favorite tunes but also had an impact on record prices.
Several factors characterized the album evolution in the 1970s:
- Greater emphasis on cohesive concepts and themes throughout an entire album rather than just a collection of individual songs.
- The growing popularity of rock bands and singer-songwriters who crafted full-length works meant to be experienced as complete artistic statements.
- Advances in recording technology allowed artists to create more sophisticated and multi-layered sounds, further pushing listeners towards albums over singles.
This shift from single sales to albums increased average prices for vinyl records. Albums often cost more due to increased production costs associated with creating more extended pieces of music, coupled with elaborate packaging designs featuring eye-catching artwork we discussed earlier.
As consumers began placing more excellent value on having an entire body of work from their favorite artists, they were willing to pay a premium for these immersive experiences.
Looking back on this era, it’s clear that artistic expression and consumer preferences drove changes in how records were priced during the 1970s.
The move from singles-focused releases to fully-realized albums offered listeners new ways to connect with their favorite musicians while indulging their subconscious desires for freedom through immersion into these expansive musical worlds.
And as these trends have continued into modern times – albeit now primarily through digital mediums – one can’t help but appreciate how profoundly this period shaped our current relationship with music and its consumption today.
The Introduction of Cassettes and Their Effect on Vinyl Prices
You might be wondering how the introduction of cassettes during the 1970s affected vinyl prices, and it’s a fascinating story to explore.
As cassette innovations rapidly progressed, this new format began to challenge the dominance of vinyl records. Cassettes were smaller, more portable, and easily duplicated or recorded at home using a simple tape deck. This accessibility fueled the growth of tape trading among music enthusiasts, who would exchange copies of live performances or rare albums with one another.
As tapes gained popularity throughout the decade, record companies started releasing albums on both vinyl and cassette formats.
At first, cassettes were often priced slightly lower than their vinyl counterparts due to cheaper manufacturing costs. However, as demand increased and consumers began to shift towards this newer medium for its convenience and portability benefits — especially in-car audio systems — retailers gradually raised cassette prices to be comparable to or even higher than those of vinyl records.
While it may seem that cassettes would have driven down vinyl prices by providing an alternative option for consumers, they didn’t necessarily cause a significant price drop in records during the 1970s. Instead, what happened was that people found themselves with more choices when it came to music consumption. Depending on personal preferences and needs, some gravitated toward tapes, while others remained loyal to vinyl records.
Due to inflation and production costs, vinyl album prices fluctuated throughout the decade. Still, they maintained steady popularity until later technological advancements like compact discs arrived in the 1980s.
The Collector’s Market in the 1970s
During the ’70s, a burgeoning collector’s market for vinyl albums catered to devoted music enthusiasts seeking rare and unique finds. This period saw the rise of specialty record stores that focused on stocking obscure titles, limited edition pressings, and other album memorabilia. Collectors were willing to pay premium prices for these rarities, which helped maintain a steady demand for vinyl records despite the introduction of cassette tapes during this decade.
Some critical aspects of the 1970s collector’s market included:
- Record preservation: Collectors prided themselves on keeping their possessions in mint condition. They would go to great lengths to store their records properly and handle them with care.
- Album memorabilia: Unique items such as promotional posters, autographed copies, or concert tickets associated with an album add value and appeal to collectors.
- Rarity: Limited edition releases or hard-to-find albums created a sense of urgency among collectors who wanted to get their hands on these exclusive treasures.
The thrill of discovering hidden gems in dusty crates at local record stores became a passionate pastime for many music lovers during the 1970s.
As they celebrated the artistry behind each album cover and relished in owning tangible pieces of musical history, vinyl enthusiasts found solace from the uncertainties faced by society during this tumultuous decade.
The joy of stumbling upon coveted rarities provided personal satisfaction and contributed to preserving an important cultural artifact—the cherished vinyl record—for future generations to enjoy.
The Decline of Vinyl and the Rise of Digital Music
So, imagine the shock when vinyl declined, and digital music began taking over the scene! The digital revolution was just getting started in the late 1970s, with inventors and engineers working tirelessly to develop new ways of storing and playing music.
As technology progressed, it became clear that there was potential for a significant shift in how people consumed music. They would no longer have to rely on physical records with their limited storage capacity and susceptibility to wear and tear; instead, they could embrace a world where songs were stored as data on compact discs or computers.
The transition from vinyl to digital formats wasn’t immediate or smooth. Audiophiles argued that cold, sterile digital files couldn’t replicate the warmth and character of analog recordings. Nonetheless, technological advances continued rapidly throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, leading up to the emergence of MP3 files and file-sharing services like Napster.
This marked a turning point in history as traditional record stores began closing down while online platforms gained popularity for their convenience and accessibility.
As we fast forward, streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora have emerged as dominant forces within today’s music industry. They offer vast libraries of songs readily available at your fingertips without purchasing individual albums or singles – truly emblematic of society’s ever-present desire for freedom.
While some still cling to their collections of vintage vinyl records (and indeed, sales are making something of a comeback), there’s no denying that the landscape has shifted dramatically since those heady days back in the 1970s when buying an album meant browsing through racks upon racks at your local record store.
How Record Clubs Influenced Prices
In the heyday of vinyl, record clubs played a significant role in shaping prices and influencing consumer behavior. These clubs, such as Columbia House and RCA Music Service, enticed music lovers with irresistible offers like ’12 albums for just a penny’ to reel them into membership.
Club exclusives and membership perks made these deals even more appealing to customers who wanted to build their music collection without breaking the bank. By joining a record club, you could get your hands on the latest releases at discounted prices, making it an attractive option for many during the inflation-plagued 1970s.
As a member of one of these famous record clubs, you enjoyed numerous benefits unavailable to non-members. For instance, you received monthly catalogs featuring exclusive album titles available only through the club or limited-edition releases that were hard to come by elsewhere. You also took advantage of special promotions and discounts on popular albums that ensured you stayed up-to-date with current trends in music without straining your wallet too much.
Record clubs provided an affordable way for fans to stay connected with their favorite artists while discovering new ones. Although record clubs helped make vinyl more accessible to consumers during this period, they did have some drawbacks.
The contracts often required members to purchase several yearly albums at regular club prices (higher than in stores) or face penalties for not fulfilling their commitments. While initial offers seemed like unbeatable bargains, members soon discovered they had committed themselves to buying overpriced records over time – sometimes leading them into financial difficulties or souring their enthusiasm for collecting music altogether.
Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that these clubs left an indelible mark on the landscape of music consumption in the 1970s and contributed significantly towards defining how much records cost during this era.
The Role of Record Labels in Pricing
As you dive deeper into vinyl, it’s crucial to understand the role record labels play in determining prices and shaping your collection.
In the 1970s, record label monopolies dominated the industry, leading to pricing controversies and limited consumer options. These significant labels controlled the production and distribution of records and influenced artists’ contracts, marketing strategies, and ultimately the cost passed on to you, the listener.
The ’70s were when many independent labels struggled to break through due to these monopolies.
The big players like Columbia, Warner Bros., RCA Victor, and Atlantic Records held significant power over retail pricing. They often charged premium prices for their albums while maintaining a tight grip on discounts or promotions that could have made music more affordable for fans like you who wanted nothing more than to get lost in their favorite tunes without breaking the bank.
Despite this control over pricing by major labels during this era of musical revolution and creativity, there were some victories in breaking down barriers for smaller players entering the market – paving the way for future generations of independent musicians and labels alike.
As new technologies emerged throughout this turbulent decade (such as cassettes), alternative formats began offering additional avenues for exposure beyond traditional record stores – giving hope that one day we might all be able to affordably own our favorite albums without being beholden to corporate giants dictating our every groove.
The Enduring Legacy of 1970s Vinyl
Feeling the grooves of your favorite ’70s vinyl is like holding a piece of music history in your hands, a testament to this beloved format’s enduring legacy and timeless appeal. The 1970s were a pivotal time for music, with artists pushing boundaries and exploring new sounds, all captured on those classic vinyl records.
Part of the charm lies in that certain vinyl nostalgia – the warm, rich sound quality; album covers as works of art; and even the tactile experience of flipping through records at a store.
As you delve deeper into the world of 1970s vinyl, you’ll uncover hidden gems from an era when creativity flourished. Lesser-known albums by iconic artists like David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold The World,’ and Fleetwood Mac’s pre-Stevie Nicks ‘Bare Trees,’ as well as groundbreaking releases from cult favorites such as Joy Division’s debut EP ‘An Ideal For Living’ and Brian Eno’s ambient masterpiece ‘Discreet Music.’
This fascination with ’70s vinyl has contributed to the turntable resurgence we see today. Listeners are rediscovering what made these records so unique in their heyday. From crate-digging for rare finds to cozying up at home with your favorite LP spinning on a vintage turntable, it’s clear that these snapshots of musical history continue to strike a chord with fans young and old alike.
Comparative Earnings: Music Artists of the 1970s Versus Today
The issue of whether artists in the music industry were paid better in the 1970s or now is a complex one that is influenced by numerous factors, including changes in the way music is distributed and consumed, the role of record companies and labels, and broader economic trends.
In the 1970s, the music industry was dominated by record companies such as Capitol Records and Columbia Records. These companies made substantial profits from the sale of vinyl record albums. Many iconic artists, including Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie, were at the peak of their careers during this time. However, the financial rewards for artists were not necessarily proportional to their fame or the popularity of their music. Record companies often retained a significant portion of the profits, while artists were paid a small percentage as royalties.
In contrast, today’s music industry is more decentralized and digital-focused. Artists have more opportunities to distribute their music independently and directly connect with their fans, potentially allowing them to retain a larger share of their earnings. However, while convenient for consumers, the proliferation of streaming services has led to controversies over the low royalty rates paid to artists.
Furthermore, the value of vintage record collections, including old vinyl records from artists like Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon, has soared in recent years. These valuable records are highly sought after by record collectors, mainly mint copies and colored vinyl editions. Some rare items, such as the picture sleeve version of Frank Wilson’s Northern Soul classic “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” have fetched extraordinary prices on the collectors’ market.
While the 1970s might seem like a golden age for music artists due to the popularity of vinyl record albums and the dominance of major labels, the reality is that many artists struggled financially due to the structure of the industry and their contracts.
Today, while there are new challenges, artists have more opportunities to control their careers and potentially earn more from their music.
However, this doesn’t negate the fact that, in both eras, succeeding in the music industry requires talent and a good understanding of the business side of things.
Spinning the Black Circle: The Vinyl Record Economics of the 1970s
As we bring our journey through the history of record costs in the 1970s to a close, it’s evident how the fluctuating costs impacted the popularity and the ubiquity of the vinyl record. The evolution of the vinyl record industry in the United States reveals a fascinating intersection of music, technology, and economics. From the typical album price range of $5-$8, equivalent to $20-$35 today after adjusting for inflation, the affordability of vinyl records played a significant part in the spread of music culture during the ’70s.
The appeal of old records marked the era; a black vinyl disc spinning on a turntable became an iconic symbol of home audio entertainment. Record companies thrived in these years as albums were mass-produced, catering to various music genres and fan bases, making them a staple in American households. An old record was not merely a vessel for music but a testament to a musician’s artistry and a fan’s allegiance.
While the ’70s were the heyday of vinyl, it’s worth noting the enduring value of these records. Today, record collection is a cherished hobby, with vintage and rare vinyl fetching actual prices in the market. The intrinsic value of these albums is not just their music but the nostalgia they evoke, the tangible connection they provide to the past, and the unique listening experience they offer.
With the recent resurgence of vinyl, we witness the enduring appeal of the medium. The value of old vinyl records has transcended mere monetary assessment; it reflects their cultural and sentimental worth. As we look back at the 1970s, we appreciate the influence of these black vinyl discs, spinning tales of a bygone era while continuing to enchant us in the present day.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What was the average price of a vinyl record in the 1970s?
In the 1970s, a typical vinyl record album often cost between $5 and $8. Although that might seem inexpensive now, when adjusting for inflation, it translates to approximately $20-$35 in today’s dollars.
Did the cost of vinyl records significantly fluctuate during the 1970s?
The cost of vinyl records was relatively stable during the 1970s. However, towards the end of the decade, as the music industry began transitioning towards cassettes and eventually CDs, the prices could vary more significantly.
How did vinyl records cost in the 1970s compared to other music formats, like 8-tracks or cassettes?
Initially, cassettes were often priced slightly lower than old vinyl records due to cheaper manufacturing costs. However, as consumer demand shifted towards the newer, more portable format, retailers gradually increased cassette prices to match or surpass those of vinyl records.
Did special editions or colored vinyl records cost more in the 1970s?
Special editions, colored vinyl, and picture discs often had a higher price point due to their limited availability and increased manufacturing costs. Collectors frequently sought after these unique versions, adding to their value.
How did the cost of records in the 1970s influence music consumption and the music industry?
The relatively affordable cost of records in the 1970s enabled more consumers to build their music collections at home, influencing trends in music consumption. This mass accessibility of music also significantly impacted the music industry, driving sales and leading to the era’s flourishing music scene.