The MP3 at 25: How a digital file dynamited the music industry

The Quietus:

It was really just a name change because the technology already existed, but it was to become the luggage tag on a revolution.

On 14th July 1995, audio engineers at the Fraunhofer Society in Munich finally settled on what the filename extension for the compressed digital format they had developed should be named. What was previously known as .bit was now to be called .mp3.

It really only had a 12-year window at its peak, but it packed a lot into them. In just over a decade it changed the record business completely. Twice. It also paved the way for streaming – all streaming, not just music streaming – to become the default way to, drawing on the industry’s own terminology, “consume” “content”.

No other music format since the phonograph in 1877 has had anything even approaching the profound impact that the MP3 has had on the music business. All formats before the MP3 were designed specifically to plump up the profitability of the music business; the MP3 ripped it to shreds.

It’s hard to overstate the seismic shift the MP3 created in the music industry.