On 24 October, Taylor Swift posted the below photograph to her Instagram feed, marking her first decade as a recording artist, with the caption: "10 years ago today, my first album came out. I couldn't be more grateful today, thinking back on how much fun we've had and how you've encouraged me to change and grow. It's been such an adventure, guys. Thank you for all of it."
And she's not the only one who's been changing and growing. No one could have predicted Taylor's rise from being a young, country singer-songwriter in Nashville to global pop superstar, and that's just one of many aspects of modern musical life that were inconceivable 10 years ago...
1. You can buy vinyl in supermarkets
While vinyl die-hards will claim the format never went away, sales have boomed in recent years, partially thanks to Record Store Day, which was launched in 2007. But no one could have predicted sales would become so buoyant that you would eventually be able to pick up a copy of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours while out grocery shopping. Tesco was the first supermarket chain to stock records, in 2015, and then Sainsbury's followed earlier this year. They even used the announcement of a new vinyl rack in shops to contend that they now had the largest high street record shop chain in the country - a claim HMV was quick to refute.
And of course, with vinyl becoming mainstream again, people began to look to other formats to supply that reassuringly retro music experience, such as cassettes, as Jen Long, co-founder of Cassette Store Day, explains:
2. The rise and fall of mp3s
All of the above proves that music formats never really die, but you have to wonder about the future of the humble mp3, given the sharp rise of streaming services over the past couple of years, whether by subscription (Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music) or across YouTube and Vevo. Apart from the reassurance of owning something that cannot be taken off the servers at the whim of the artist (Taylor Swift's music is currently still not on Spotify, for example), it's difficult to see what future music lovers will get out of mp3s that they can't get out of streaming.
Playlists can be downloaded to mobile devices, so a lack of data signal isn't a problem, and there are even smartphone/tablet apps that allow DJ-style music manipulation from streaming platforms. In 2006, sales of downloads passed the half-billion mark for the first time and then reached a peak moment in 2012, which was proclaimed by the Official Charts Company as the best-ever for singles sales. But the future of downloads seems doomed - sales have dropped off dramatically since 2012, making the mp3 a remarkably short-lived mainstream music format.
3. The triumphant return of Craig David
In 2006, Craig David's career was struggling to regain momentum, having been dealt a public blow by a grotesque (and hugely popular) caricature on Leigh Francis's comedy show Bo' Selecta. The hits dried up a year later, and that appeared to be that. Fast forward to 2016, and he's back with a No.1 album, as quicksilver a presence on the microphone as he ever was (have a look at the performance above, in which Kurupt FM and Big Narstie go comprehensively nuts to a reworking of his first solo hit Fill Me In). It's as if "proper bo I tell thee" never happened.
He's not the only act making an unlikely return to public duty. Pop-punkers Busted, who famously split because Charlie Simpson wanted to be taken seriously as an artist, recently put aside their differences and got back together to play sleek disco-funk. And this was after the other two - James Bourne and Matt Willis - went on tour with McFly under the ungainly name McBusted, all of which would be derided as the stuff of fannish fever dreams, were it not so palpably true.
4. Music genres have become largely meaningless
Possibly as a result of streaming making all of recorded music history available at once, the idea that musicians work within their one genre and stick doggedly to it has taken something of a hit in recent years. There's been as much cross pollination between artists of different stripes - Coldplay and Rihanna, A$AP Rocky and Rod Stewart, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, Lou Reed and Metallica, Slaves and Skepta - as there is in the playlists of music fans.
So despite Noel Gallagher's protestations, seeing Jay Z headline Glastonbury in 2008 turned out to be perfectly fine, just as it was when Beyoncé followed suit three years later. Even metal, the most cussedly not-like-everything else musical form in popular culture, has been drawn in, with Metallica also headlining Glastonbury in 2011, and rowdy bands like Royal Blood and Bring Me the Horizon regularly played on daytime Radio 1.
5. The new British global invasion
Or to be strictly accurate, there's been a world invasion of non-American talent across music. America is still seen as the hub around which all popular music revolves, but it's interesting just how many of the biggest stars of the moment are not from there, whether it's Drake, Rihanna, Adele, Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith.
In fact, of the Top 10 global recording artists of 2015, only two were American (five were Brits, including the top two, and three were Canadian).
6. Vloggers have become the new pop stars
Ten years ago next month, Google bought out YouTube - then only a year old - for $1.65 billion, and you'd be hard pushed to say they didn't get a good deal. It's not only the premier delivery platform for short-form video content, it's a (relatively) level playing field for fresh talent. Musicians like Justin Bieber (current King of Pop, let's not forget), 5 Seconds of Summer and The Weeknd were all discovered thanks to their early uploads. But what no one could have predicted in 2006 is the degree of celebrity afforded to people uploading video blogs, or the old fashioned showbusiness machine that would quickly surround them.
On every level, vloggers such as Zoe Sugg (Zoella), her brother Joe (ThatcherJoe) and boyfriend Alfie Deyes (PointlessBlog) have developed the kind of status that used to belong to boyband pop stars. Their public appearances are carefully stage-managed for an ardent young fanbase - because, as this NME report proves, their brand is their business - and, at all times, they appear to be humble, accessible, normal kids from around the corner, who just happen to make videos for fun.
7. Gangnam Style
If one song defines how far we've come in 10 short years, it's Gangnam Style by Psy. This is a single that would never have been released to an international market under normal circumstances, not without a translation to English. South Korean pop music does not tend to do well internationally, no matter how catchy it may be, so it's unlikely that the song would have made any impact on music fans of the early 00s, save for those who may have watched the video - complete with Psy's iconic horsey-ride dance - on a wry TV roundup of the crazy television shows from around the world.
And yet, thanks to that astounding video being shared across social media amid an international explosion of exclamation marks and cry-laughing emojis, it now stands as the single most-watched clip in YouTube history (current total: 2.6 billion views) - a history, let's not forget, that is only 11 years in the making.