Scott Miller tackles the year 2000 in this week's "Music - What Happened?" and says that the decade of the 2000s was "a little better than the 90s and not quite as good as the 70s", while saying earlier that the 90s were better than the 80s, so he puts it pretty high up as far as decades go.
I don't know if I'd agree with that, because there haven't been as many landmark albums (IMO) as previous decades, but I've definitely been exposed to more music in the 2000s. Mostly because this has been the decade of the mp3. Napster launched in 1999, but didn't take off until early 2000, and introduced the opportunity to find any song you wanted at the click of a mouse.
Free flowing Napster died off about a year later, but it's still possible to find an mp3 of almost any song you want if you know where to look. This has made it a lot tougher to make money in the music business, but has kept a level playing field for everyone.
There are only fifteen months remaining in the 2000s, and I still can't come up with a comprehensive list of albums of the decades. Here are some of my top artists from this decade who weren't around in previous decades.
The Hold Steady
I was trying to think of artists who've released at least four albums in this decade. The Pernice Brothers' first record was in the 1990s, but the others were all new in the 2000s. They've all put out three or four solid albums between 2001 and 2008, but most of their music evokes previous decades. These are all indie-level bands, and even though a couple have graduated major labels, they're successful enough to not have to keep their day jobs, but aren't getting to live like rock stars.
On the next level, I can't think of any artists who've managed to launch a superstar level career in this decade and sustain it. The closest I can think of is Radiohead, who started in the 90s and have managed to stay important. Most of the bands who play big arenas an amphitheatres are older ones, because there isn't anything in place to develop artists these days. On the other side of the success scale, there are fewer bands touring and fewer albums selling, so fans need to make an effort to find new music.
What I'm trying to say is that this has been a pretty good decade for music in general, but it's hard to compare it to previous ones. No decade will ever be as fruitful as the three years between 1966 and 1968 or (insert favorite three year period in the 70s or 80s), but I'm still proud of my planet!