New research published by the Ovum news service Music & Copyright reveals that the two most popular music genres in terms of retail sales in the world are pop and rock. According to the annual genre study conducted by Music & Copyright, consumer spending on the two genres accounted for 56.7% of total spending in 2013. Retail sales of pop music stood at $6.8bn, and retail sales of rock music totaled $5.8bn (see Figure 1).
Although the two genres dominate global recorded-music sales, there were differences in their performance last year. Sales of pop music slid 7.6%, while the rock-music decline was 3.1%. Dance music and rap/hip-hop were the only two genres to see growth in retail sales: Dance sales increased 4%, to $1.3bn, while rap/hip-hop sales rose 1.4%, to $1.2bn. Jazz was the biggest loser for the second consecutive year, with sales down 10.1%.
Despite its fall in sales, pop remained the world’s most popular genre, accounting for 30.6% of global retail sales (see Figure 2), although this share was down, from 31.7% in 2012. Rock’s share increased, from 25.7% to 26.1%. Dance music scored the biggest share increase, rising from 5.5% to 6%.
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 6.4% in 2013. 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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