In just the last 10 years, the compact disc has become an endangered species, MP3s are now the dominant music format, almost every song in the history of recorded music can be played at the click of a button and vinyl is making a comeback. Music behind the scenes has changed more drastically than music in front of the microphone; the number one single when amNew York began publishing in 2003 was Beyonce’s “Baby Boy,” a song that would likely still be blared from radios everywhere if it was released today.
These are some of the biggest names and faces that have shaped music for the last 10 years:
1Adele – The British singer’s second album, 2011’s “21,” did more to save the music industry than any anti-piracy law could ever hope to accomplish.
2Arcade Fire – The Montreal-based indie band’s Grammy win for Album of the Year in 2011 for “The Suburbs” was the boldest sign that what was once considered “indie rock” is now an established part of the mainstream.
3Beyoncé – Queen Bey has only released three albums since the debut of amNewYork in October of 2003, but it feels like she’s been on the radio once an hour for 10 straight years.
4Justin Bieber – Beyond his multiplatinum-selling albums and his Pied Piper-esque effect on pre-teen girls, the Canadian singer is also notable for being one of the first true megastars to be discovered on YouTube.
5Simon Cowell – Already a phenomenon in 2003, “American Idol” eventually grew into an institution, while Cowell’s label Syco also brought the world Leona Lewis and One Direction, both contestants on Britain’s “The X Factor.”
6Daniel Ek – The Spotify founder has radically reshaped how people consume music with his streaming-on-demand program. Whether artists, who receive very little money from the model, stay on board may be the next big question in the music industry.
7Jay Z – Gained: King of New York status, multiple platinum albums, superstar wife, heir to his throne. Lost: One hyphen. That’s a good decade.
8Steve Jobs – It’s been a decade since the iTunes Store launched on non-Apple platforms. Ten years later, online music sales outpace those of physical formats.
9Lil Wayne – Remember: We live in a world where Lil Wayne has appeared on more Billboard-charting hits than Elvis Presley. YOLO, indeed.
10Kanye West – From “College Dropout” all the way through “Yeezus,” no rapper has been more polarizing, taken more chances and been more successful than the Chicago emcee.