While it is no longer surprising to state that streaming, in general, is altering the music business, certain kinds of music now have power like never before because of this new model.
Nielsen Music recently released its annual mid-year report, which takes a look at how the music industry is doing halfway through the year and lists which songs and albums are performing the best. This time around, the report revealed some fairly unsurprising stats, including the fact that streaming is still exploding, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” is the most popular track and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is the album that the American public simply can’t get enough of. All of those could have been predicted, but there is one standout piece of information embedded in the document that is somewhat shocking.
For the first time since Nielsen started measuring music consumption in the United States, rock is no longer the top genre in terms of overall consumption. Instead, the combined genre of R&B and hip-hop has taken the crown, and while the two styles are fairly close to one another when it comes to percentages, the latter has pulled ahead, and it seems like it will continue to distance itself from the competition in the coming months and years.
Hip-hop/R&B, on the other hand, 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. 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.
As fans of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B—names like Drake and The Weeknd—continue to hit play over and over again on hit singles and just-released albums (or playlist projects in Drake’s case), the number of total songs streamed in the U.S. will continue to rise, and those styles will pull ahead further and further.