The World Turned Upside Down
The music industry hustled to regroup in the 1970s and 1980s. The baby boom was over and spending was down.
Shifts in world economics also took a toll on the U.S. dollar. The 1973 OPEC oil embargo, coupled with the painful price of the Vietnam War, resulted in a serious recession. Foreign competition, especially from Japan, hurt American manufacturers. Protective tariffs did not compensate.
One bright spot was the spectacular growth in sales of easy-play home organs at new, enclosed mall locations. But by 1979, interest rates had climbed to almost 20 percent. The conglomerates, deep in debt, vanished from the music manufacturing business. Bankruptcy rates for retailers mirrored those of the Depression.
It was the darkest hour before the dawn: of digital, that is. New technologies instilled renewed economic vigor into the music industry by the mid-1980s. The era ended on an upbeat.