Purpose - The paper develops a conceptual framework for assessing value-creating service ecosystems that contains four core dimensions: medium, meaning, usage, and network. Its purpose is to identify and discuss the implications of the changes that occur in these dimensions when exchanges within the ecosystem that have long been mediated by physical products become direct instead. Methodology/approach - The analysis employs the historical method and is based on a systematic investigation of the evolution of the recordedmusic market during the past 150 years. Findings - The analysis shows that the key dimensions of the recordedmusic- service ecosystem evolved only gradually and incrementally during the era of physical formats that were dominant until the mid-1990s. With the advent of "liquid" music, the elements of the service ecosystem changed dramatically, leading to instability and redefining roles and exchange mechanisms in the ecosystem. Research limitations/ implications - The investigation focuses on a single ecosystem (music), and conclusions stemming from it are subject to the assumptions inherent in the historical method. Nevertheless, the paper contributes to knowledge in the Service-Dominant Logic (S-D logic) domain by offering a robust framework and a set of core dimensions that are useful for systematically analyzing the nature and consequences of changes that occur in rapidly evolving service ecosystems. Practical implications - Apart from direct implications for the music market, the proposed framework can help managers working in other ecosystems to adopt a macro perspective in addressing value-creation issues and to pay particular attention to the underlying dynamics that influence value creation in those ecosystems. Originality/value of paper - The development of a conceptual framework that adopts a macro-level, market-wide perspective for understanding value creation in service ecosystems is a distinct contribution of the paper, as is the application of the historical method in analyzing such an ecosystem.