Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Now isn’t that a tricky question to start with as the very first blog post for Trackdrums(dot)com?! Straight in at the deep end!
I’ve often wondered myself which is the go-to genre for the majority of people and depending on what source you read, it seems to be Polka, with ‘Weird’ Al being by far the most wealthiest and successful musician of all time. Thanks for reading, stay tuned for the next exciting instalment of…Wait… What? (Sorry, couldn’t resist it…!)
I’ve got to start off by saying that it may seem like a trick question to ask especially myself as all of the evidence and articles I have read won’t give a final definitive answer mainly based on the fact that there are many different ways of purchasing and listening to music. One genre will be most popular on one format whilst another would far surpass other styles on another. Also, many of the articles online don’t give a definitive answer for the whole of the World only countries. So I thought what might be a better idea is to write down what I have found to be the overall Top 3 Genres and put all of the evidence from the articles I have studied to try and give you a final answer to the question.
Now isn’t this a given? Of course Pop is right up there as one of the most liked genres! I personally believe it’s so high up the list because of it’s longevity (it’s been around since the 1950’s as a softer alternative to Rock and Roll), and you also have to take into account the diversity of Artists that can be called Pop because the music form does tend to dare I say it ’steal’ elements from other genres such as Dance, Electronic, Rock and Country. Pop is short for popular for a reason and is still a hugely loved music genre with TV shows such as ‘The X Factor’ constantly bombarding viewers with the genre leaving them with those pesky little earworms permanently burrowing away catchy ditties. Also there is radio plays where Pop contributes to a vast majority of the music on the airwaves, especially in Europe. But overall, is it the most favoured genre? Surprisingly not. It is for sure the most popular genre in the UK with a marketshare of 34.5% of all album sales and I would hazard a gamble and say that you could probably count much of Europe as major Pop fans too. But overall according to Nielsen Music in the USA, Pop is ranked as the third favourite music genre with 19% of overall combined sales and streams.
With the late 80’s and early 90’s being the golden age of Hip Hop inspiring many people to start sampling encouraged with a huge leap forward in technology allowing everyone the chance to record in their own homes, the genre has gone from strength to strength! With Artists such as Drake and Kendrick Lamar being the main players on the streaming stage, Hip Hop has become the most listened to genre of music. As for combined sales and streams, according to Nielsen Music, Hip Hop is the second most popular genre with a decent score of 22%. Hip Hop is the youngest musical form of the Top 3 having been created in the early 70’s and quickly developing into a subcultural movement as well as a much loved genre of music. The innovative ways that DJ’s such as Kool DJ Herc and Grandmaster Flash used turntablism to manipulate music made Hip Hop into a genre that could be quickly adapted and enjoyed by the masses. The vast selection of fantastic grooves sampled from Funk pioneers in the early days of Hip Hop made it an incredibly popular musical form. Such recent technological happenings has helped make the form explode with loads of new talent surfacing all the time.
I remember late on a Friday evening in my mid to late teens in the 90’s tuning into MTV and VH-1 to watch Headbanger’s Ball and then The Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance because that was the only time they ever played Rock. You gotta understand, Rock was nowhere to be seen either on the radio or TV. It was dying out. The know-it-all-that-is-normally-wrong-about-most-things Gene Simmons of Kiss has said in an interview with Esquire that “Rock is finally dead. The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered.” In that case he identified streaming as the reasoning behind his theory. But was he right? According to Nielsen Music, no. No he’s not! With a mighty 30% of overall combined sales and streams in the USA and with Rock being the second favourite music form in the UK and Europe only slightly behind Pop, it seems that the ageing musical Rockosaurus paid a visit to John Hammond in Jurassic Park and has come back to life! It seems that people still can’t get enough of their shrieking guitars cranked and the hard hitting slams of the rhythm section keeping the juggernaut moving ever forward!
But if you are new to writing your own music please don’t take this blog post as an indicator to tell you what musical genre you should be creating based on the figures and sales, you have to play and write what floats your boat! It’s not always the case that you will be able to fake it ’til you make it!
So there it is Folks! After many days and nights (a few hours really…!) searching the interwebs for a definitive answer, I give you the chief, the aural daddy, the myth, the legend, THE most popular music genre in the World!!!…