What way do you listen to music? Because, as we all know, it currently exists in multiple recorded formats and has been available on myriad others.

Really, since the very first recordings, we've been continually figuring out the best ways to replicate them for ourselves and others. Are we close to finding the winner?

You might have even experienced multiple formats just in your lifetime. Which one started you on your musical journey? Many now enjoy digital music streaming. But just a few decades ago, one could replay a recording only via tangible, physical formats. And even before digital, those formats were purely analog.

But let's jump into the present. Lately, there's been a lot of talk of music formats overall. Is streaming ruining the industry? Are compact discs making a comeback? Even the cassette is enjoying a resurgence, especially in indie and underground circles.

All of this to say, it makes now the perfect time to take a look at the fascinating history of popular music media. From the initial wax cylinder to USB sticks in gummy skulls — there's plenty to learn about music formats. Are you ready to dive in?

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

A Brief History of Recorded Music Formats

Music formats from yesteryear's first wax cylinders to today's modern streaming services…

Gallery Credit: Chris Wheatley

BONUS: Weird + Wonderful One-Off Music Formats

These formats never went into wide production, but wow, are they something…

Gallery Credit: Chris Wheatley

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