49 Great Music Genre Demographics

Music is something that touches the soul in a truly unique way. It’s one of the few things in this world that can engage the entire mind at once. Although many people tend to listen to multiple genres of music, they each tend to have a preferred genre that they will listen to more often than not.

Because of internet radio’s growth, the percentage of people who are listening to music every month on a regular basis is increasing.

Music Genre

In 2010, about 41% of people on the internet in the United States were listening to a radio station online. In comparison, in 2014, it is expected that over 63% of people on the internet will listen to streaming music, or about 1 out of every 2 Americans. This means there will be more revenues involved for advertising, but it also means that more people will be likely to try new genres of music that they might not otherwise try.

  • In 2013, 51% of the music that was sold still came from physical format items.
  • About 39% of the industry’s total revenues came from online streaming subscriptions and digital channels.
  • The total amount of global recorded music sales topped $15 billion in total in 2013.
  • Performance rights revenues increased by 19% in the last year.
  • Over 28 million people paid for a music subscription service in 2013, which up by 40% over the year before.
  • The top selling album in 2013 by One Direction sold 4 million copies in total.
  • Pop music accounts for 50% of the top 10 selling albums in the last year.

What is unique about the sales statistics in music genres is that nearly every category of music is represented in the top 10 best sellers. Even electronica is represented by Daft Punk, selling 3.2 million copies of their album “Random Access Memories.” The notable exclusion from this list, however, is the country music genre. Country music did not crack the top 10 in album sales or single sales in 2013.

How Has The Music Industry Changed?

  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who are unsigned to a major record label, sold 13.4 million copies of their single “Thrift Shop” in 2013, making them the bestselling independent artists.
  • Album charts that are based in individual markets show that sales of local artists have strength compared to national names.
  • In France, 17 of the top 20 albums were from local artists.
  • 61% of internet users below the age of 65 engaged in legitimate music download activity at least once in the last 6 months.
  • For the 16-24 age demographic, 3 out of 4 internet users regularly download music.
  • The top reason to try or subscribe to a digital music service is to try out new music according to 41% of respondents in a recent survey.

It wasn’t that long ago that listening to new music meant changing the radio station. With today’s access to music easier than ever before, there are numerous free options that can be utilized. Artists can even upload music to free streaming services like SoundCloud to get added exposure if they want. This allows for better brand exposure and it may help to create more sales, since 4 out of 10 people listen to internet subscriptions to find new music. That’s even more than those who use them because it provides a legitimate environment to access music without having to purchase a song.

What Kind Of Music Do People Prefer?

  • In 3 out of the last 5 years, Alternative music was the leading genre in sales in the United States with over 50 million albums sold each year.
  • When Alternative music isn’t preferred in the US, then R&B music is the standby option for most, leading in sales in the other 2 years.
  • The least popular genre of music in the United States is traditionally New Age music.
  • Jazz and Dance/Electronic music have about equal levels of sales.
  • Country music has been the most consistent selling genre from year to year, losing just 5 million total albums per year in the most recent 5 year period reported.
  • The drop of annual album sales in Alternative music in the same time period: 28 million.
  • Rock albums, when niche genres are eliminated, lead in sales with over 102 million albums sold per year.

There really isn’t anything like rock and roll, at least to the American market. There have been some in-roads with other demographics, especially the dance and electronica movement, thanks to a growing awareness of European and Asian music trends in the US. With more than 40 million album sales per year for Country music, however, it is remarkable that there aren’t any singles or albums that were able to crack the global top 10. This means that Americans are buying this genre, but hardly anyone else seems to prefer it from a global perspective.

How Much Has Digital Music Changed The Scene?

  • The number of digital music downloads that occurred in 2004: 4.6 million.
  • There were 118 million digital music downloads that occurred in the United States alone in 2013.
  • The total value of the US download market was $1.5 billion, which was actually lower than in 2012, the first time there was a decline since 2004.
  • The most popular internet service to access music around the world is YouTube, with 91% brand saturation.
  • Amazon [61%] has more music brand and streaming recognition than Spotify [59%].
  • Sales in Japan for music declined by over 16% in the last year, and since it’s the world second largest music market, it caused a dramatic decrease in overall revenues.
  • Total digital revenues in 2013 for all music genres, however, was $5.9 billion, which was a 4.3% increase over the year before.

Digital music has definitely changed the landscape of who is listening to what at any given time. It is a lot easier to experiment with music because services like YouTube and Spotify allow users to access new tunes for free. There’s no financial commitment involved if the music isn’t liked. Now playlists are being developed, even on iTunes, to help people discover even more music that they might like to hear. What does this mean for the future of music? It means that a musician isn’t going to be able to stay locked into a specific demographic if they want to be able to find success. They’re going to need to fuse different styles together to remain interesting to their targeted audience.

How Much Is Being Invested Into Music Today?

  • On average, record companies are spending about $4.5 billion every year just to market artists to the target fan genres.
  • Labels have maintained spending rates of at least $2.6 billion even during the Great Recession, representing 16% of the total revenues received.
  • On average, it takes a minimum of $1 million to break a new artist into a major market.
  • More than 70% of today’s unsigned artists would like to have a recording contract instead of the freedom of being an independent artist.
  • There are more than 5,000 artists who are signed to the rosters of today’s major record labels.
  • 25% of the artist on any label’s given roster is a new signing.
  • Recordings of performances still drive the music industry, continuing to outpace live performances.

Although established names in the music industry tend to sell better overall, there is a movement to bring in a number of fresh faces and talent. That’s evidenced by the 25% new artist signing rate that is happening right now, but that’s not necessarily good news. The five top global acts for live performances have large catalogs of material that can be played, which means that just as much is being invested into existing content as is being invested into new content. Because of this, it is understandable that there would be a stalling out of sales eventually. People might love to listen to U2 or Pink Floyd, but how many physical and digital copies of a favorite album actually need to be purchased?

Is Indie Music Taking Over The Music Industry?

  • When crossover artists are included with the statistics of music genre, country music is the #1 genre in the United States, accounting for 27.6% of all music listened to regularly.
  • Classic Rock from the 1960′s to the 1980′s, which is typically #1 in this type of category, came in second place by a full percentage point.
  • Indie music, which when listed as its own genre is the fastest growing music genre, still comes in below current Top 40 hits and popular music from the 80′s and 90′s.
  • 18-to-25-year-olds are twice as likely to say they are fans of country music.
  • For teens, country music in the US ranks as their third most popular genre of music they regularly listen to.
  • More people listen to music from their generation when they grew up when compared to new music that is released today.
  • Only 3 music genres saw increases in listenership. Besides country, hard rock and 90′s hits saw increases.

Part of the joy of listening to music is to remember all of the good times that were had while growing up. That’s partially why nostalgic music genres are so popular, especially when compared to modern music. There’s also the fact that the older generations simply don’t like the electronic modifications that have been incorporated into today’s music. It goes beyond the ear-burning auto tuner that is sometimes included with vocal tracks. Bass distortions, low frequencies that weren’t always included, and even software instruments from a DAW all take away from the “traditional” components of music from a nostalgic sense. When there’s nothing good to hear, the next step in the journey that people tend to take with music is to listen to their favorite childhood songs.

Does Your Home Town Affect Your Music Preference?

  • Although Seattle is known as the home for grunge, it is also one of the most popular places for hip-hop. It’s only outpaced by New York City, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis.
  • Country music might be popular around the Nashville area, but the second largest hotbed of country music is around Las Vegas.
  • Blues might be popular in the Midwest, but this musical genre actually has more influence around Nashville and the surrounding Southern US than in the Midwest. It is equally strong in New York City.
  • As for Folk music, Las Vegas is by far the primary location for its popularity.
  • Interestingly enough, according to survey maps, punk music was consistently the most popular genre in the US, despite all of the other survey results. Metal came in with a close second.
  • Pop music has proven that outside of Miami, Seattle, and LA, it isn’t popular in the US whatsoever.
  • Going outside of the US, EDM/Electronica is by far the most reported preference.

When you grow up in a certain environment, you tend to prefer certain types of music. If your parents grew up playing Oldies like Gary Lewis and the Playboys, then their songs are going to be on your playlists more often than not. You’ll sing their songs when you hear them played. The environment also includes your local community, so certain styles of music are going to be played more often and songs within those genres that are preferred will become part of the fabric of who you are as a person. What does this mean for music overall? Any artist in any genre has the chance to succeed, but with a society that is more global than ever before, many genres are blending together to create new forms of music. That is a beautiful thing.

Music Licensing Industry Facts

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