What is the most popular musical genre? Here is a breakdown

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What is the most popular musical genre? Here is a closer look at some format data in America.

Here’s a breakdown of music genres from Nielsen Music, which has compiled each sale of CDs, vinyls, digital downloads, and streaming to calculate which types of music are the most popular. It offers an overview of the most popular musical genre.

Here’s what they found:

I. Overall: CDs + vinyls + downloads + streaming

United States, 2015. Source: Nielsen Music.

Distribution of musical genres, 2015

Interestingly, Rock is largely at the top of the list, although Rap / Hip-Hop is not far behind. Interestingly, Spotify rated rap / hip-hop as the most popular of its musical genres in 2015, although Spotify users may represent a younger subset of music listeners.

II. Albums: CD + vinyl.

United States, 2015. Source: Nielsen Music.

Distribution of musical genres, 2015

Not surprisingly, older formats lean towards older musical genres. And, rock certainly predates rap / hip-hop, although its origins are just as controversial and generation-defining. Incidentally, Rock tends to dominate vinyl sales, where formats like Rap / Hip-Hop don’t do very well (and EDM sales are almost non-existent).

When it comes to CD sales, brilliant records still sell for billions, although their buyers are generally older (and less interested in iTunes downloads or Spotify streams).

So how was all of this information calculated, you ask?

III. Methodology.

All of these gender categorizations were determined by Nielsen and counted by format accordingly. In terms of delivery format, Nielsen counts each CD album and vinyl album, then aggregates all downloads and streams into “Equivalent Albums” to create “Track Equivalent Albums” and “Equivalent Streaming Albums”.

Specifically, a “one-track equivalent album” has ten songs from an album as a unit of an album, with the same methodology applied to streaming tracks. The results can create distortions as it doesn’t count every track, although it does create a questionable method of comparing digital formats to CD and vinyl purchases.

And, for more fun with musical genres, find out how well different genres sell on different platforms.


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