New research published today by the Informa Telecoms & Media news service Music & Copyright reveals that global retail sales of rock music increased 2.9% last year, to US$6 million, from US$5.8 million in 2011. Pop may still be the world’s most popular type of music, but retail sales of the genre were down 1%, to US$7.4 million, from US$7.5 million.
Pop and rock dominate global recorded-music sales. According to the annual genre study by Music & Copyright, retail sales of the two genres accounted for 57.4% of total sales in 2012.
In contrast to 2011, when there was a fall in retail sales of virtually all music styles, several music genres experienced growth in 2012. Most notable last year was the 8.3% rise in dance music sales. Retail spending on the genre was up, from US$1.2 million to US$1.3 million. Big name dance acts that sold well globally last year include David Guerta, Calvin Harris, Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia. Dance music accounted for 5.5% of global retail sales in 2012.
Country-music also saw an increase in sales last year, rising 2.1%, from US$1.4 million to US$1.5 million. Jazz was the biggest loser in 2012, with global retail sales down 14.3%. Smaller genres have suffered more than most in recent years from retailers giving less floor space to slow-selling, low-margin genres in favor of better-selling items, such as DVDs, video games and consumer electronics.
The classification of any artists’ music into a single genre is fairly arbitrary and can differ between record company, music retailer and national trade association. Categorizing music within a genre can often have multiple influencing factors such as musical technique, style, context, target audience and geographical origin. Moreover, many genres have sub-genres that can often overlap others.
For the purposes of this study, Music & Copyright limited itself to the most commonly used genre categories by most national trade associations when presenting a breakdown of sales by genre. Country music, for example, is included, because it is more popular in the world’s biggest market, the US. Despite much-lower retail sales of country music elsewhere in the world, the high level in the US resulted in a global share of 6.3% in 2012. In contrast, religious and Latin genres – such as Musica Popular Brasileira, which itself incorporate subgenres such as samba and samba-cancao – sell well in many Latin American countries. But because Latin American countries account for a much lower share of global retail sales, these genres have been grouped as part of “other.”
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