If you listen to the radio much you might think that Pop music is by far the most listened to music by U.S. music consumers. That supposition is wrong, however, according to the latest figures by BuzzAngle, a relatively new metrics company that is quietly been surpassing the standard Nielsen Music thanks to its more granular data. The winner is actually Hip-Hop, with almost 21% share of music consumption. R&B get’s another 9%. Pop comes in at only 12%.
There’s somewhat of a discrepancy between the two data companies though, in that they both found Hip-Hop to be the leader, but Nielsen puts both Hip-Hip and R&B in the same category (which comes in at 25%). The same thing happens with the Rock genre. BuzzAngle breaks its Rock (7.3%) category off from Alternative (5.8%), Indie Rock (4/4%), Metal (2.7%) and Punk (2.5%), while Nielsen includes them all under Rock with 23% of the total.
No matter which source you use for the data, there’s seems to be a dynamic shift in the music tastes of the U.S. consumer in recent years. It’s possible that because the data is now more precise and up to date, we’re seeing America’s real musical tastes for the first time. Then again, maybe tastes have just shifted with the times.
Whatever the case, the data is better than ever before, and can’t be easily manipulated. Before the introduction of SoundScan in 1991, the charts were determined by record store clerks manually creating reports. Record labels frequently paid the clerks off to give a single or album a favorable sales figure, and that actually caused many songs of in that era to become hits. SoundScan changed all that as the barcodes on record albums and CDs were scanned at the time of sale to determine just what was being purchased.
As things moved online, one would think that the data would be more easily collected, but that turned out not to be the case, as it depends on what the services actually report. That being said, BuzzAngle seems to have buy-in from most of the major labels, major streaming and retail players, so it’s now being trusted as the best source of music consumption data available.