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Hip-hop/R&B surpasses rock music as most popular genre in America

As the landscape of the music business continues to adapt to new technologies and listeners, the ways we listen to music as well as what music is most popular changes symbiotically.

Two weeks ago Nielsen Music issued it’s mid-year report, which aggregates data from across American music identifying key trends in the industry and assessing exactly how the business is changing.

Some of the facts in the report are pretty unsurprising; Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is the most popular album and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” is the biggest song. But Nielsen also found some rather interesting data about what kinds of music people are listening to most.

Hip-hop and R&B have officially taken the crown from rock as the most consumed genre in the country, mostly off the power of streaming numbers.

The combined R&B and hip-hop genre accounts for 25.1% of consumed music in the United States, as rock makes up for 23%.

A closer look at the numbers reveals particular trends in the music industry as streaming, not album sales, is now king.

This would explain hip-hop and R&B’s ascension as rock still makes up 40% of all album sales in the country, a number that points to the dwindling nature of record purchases more than anything.

As Hugh McIntyre of Forbes writes, the proof is in the streaming data,

“Hip-hop/R&B… is responsible for just over 29% of all on-demand streams across the country, and that is the only field that is growing noticeably. In fact, R&B/hip-hop is almost as popular on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music than the next two genres (rock and pop) combined.”

Hip-hop and R&B are simply dominating the streaming charts,

“At least seven of the top 10 most popular songs on streaming platforms in 2017 fit squarely into the hip-hop field, while another, Bruno Mars’ ‘That’s What I Like,’ blends pop and R&B.”

The Nielsen numbers demonstrate how much music is changing as streaming and hip-hop/R&B become the preferred listening method and genre of Americans.

Younger generations probably account for both of these phenomena. As older people are still buying rock music, their children are streaming hip-hop and R&B.

This isn’t particularly shocking. If you look at the charts or listen to popular music radio, a majority of what you’ll see and hear is what is referred to as “urban music.”

But that not-so-subtle buzzword that basically means “music that was made by Black people” is becoming obsolete.

In lieu of the new data produced by Nielsen, we may have to rename it hip-POP.

Keep streaming that hip-pop kids.