What’s the most popular music genre in the US? If your first answer is ‘R&B/Hip-Hop’ then you’ve clearly been keeping an eye on your industry research: in Nielsen Music/MRC Data’s last end-of-year report, it noted that R&B/Hip-Hop accounted for a 28% share of total music volume, and 31% of on-demand streams. Second-placed rock accounted for 20% of the total volume, but only 15% of on-demand streams.
Now, research firm MusicWatch has come out with another opinion on the top genres in the US, reversing those rankings. It’s been surveying Americans on their ‘favourite’ genres, with questions not just on what people buy and stream, but also what they listen to from existing collections and the radio; go to see live; buy merchandise for; and follow on social media. Under this methodology, 32% of Americans surveyed said that rock (of one form or another – sub-categories here included classic rock, alternative, hard rock/metal and soft rock) is one of their favourite genres, ahead of R&B/Hip-Hop’s 25%.
This isn’t about arguing whether rock is better than R&B/hip-hop or vice versa though – we love both! It’s more a comment on what’s being measured by different methodologies – witness MusicWatch’s suggestion that the US charts are “influenced by heavy listeners to on-demand streaming services”, while also noting that among younger ‘Gen Z’ listeners, 43% say R&B/Hip-Hop is a favourite genre, versus just 20% for rock.
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