What is the most popular musical genre? Here’s a breakdown

What is the most popular musical genre? Here’s a closer look at some format data in America.

Here’s a breakdown of music genres from Nielsen Music, which compiled all sales of CDs, vinyl, digital downloads, and streaming to calculate which types of music are most popular. It offers an overview of the most popular musical genre.

Here is what they found:

I. Overall: CDs + vinyls + downloads + streaming

United States, 2015. Source: Nielsen Music.

Distribution of musical genres, 2015

Interestingly, Rock tops the list by a wide margin, although Rap/Hip-Hop isn’t far behind. Interestingly, Spotify rated rap/hip-hop as its most popular music genre in 2015, although Spotify users may represent a younger subset of music listeners.

II. Albums: CDs + vinyls.

United States, 2015. Source: Nielsen Music.

Distribution of musical genres, 2015

Unsurprisingly, older formats lean towards older music genres. And, Rock certainly predates Rap/Hip-Hop, although its origins are equally controversial and define a generation. Incidentally, Rock tends to dominate vinyl sales, where formats like Rap/Hip-Hop don’t do so well (and, EDM sales are almost non-existent).

When it comes to CD sales, shiny records still sell in the billions, though their buyers are generally older (and less interested in iTunes downloads or Spotify streams).

So how was all this information calculated, you ask?

III. Methodology.

All of these genre categorizations were determined by Nielsen and counted by format accordingly. In terms of delivery format, Nielsen counts each CD album and vinyl album, then groups all downloads and streams into “equivalent albums” to create “equivalent track albums” and “equivalent streaming albums”.

Specifically, a “track equivalent album” counts ten songs from an album as an album unit, with the same methodology applied to streamed tracks. The results may create distortions as they do not count every track, although they have created a questionable method of comparing digital formats to CD and vinyl purchases.

And, for more fun with music genres, find out how well different genres sell on different platforms.