It’s been a long time coming, but hip-hop is now the undeniable leader when it comes to music consumption. For the first time since Nielsen started tracking the music industry in 1991, R&B/hip-hop officially dominates all other genres, according to Billboard.
Hip-hop now claims 25.1 percent of total music consumption, while the #2 genre, rock, can boast only 18.1 percent. What’s more, hip-hop commands 30.3 percent of all on-demand audio streams.
What’s interesting here is that the music industry is celebrating somewhat of a resurgence of late, with profits increasing and the future looking bright, and that’s all credited to the strength of hip-hop. Of course, the business being what it is, the major labels and virtually all their subsidiaries have staffed up to follow the trend, so don’t expect to hear a new style of music for a while.
That said, hip-hop as a genre is perfectly built for the streaming world, as it’s primarily built on single songs instead of albums. According to Billboard, “Since the 1990s, the path to hip-hop stardom largely ran through mixtapes. By 2006, the RIAA estimated the mixtape economy was responsible for 30 million to 50 million sales per year, working out to an estimated $250 million underground industry, one the trade organization viewed as piracy. Eventually the model moved online, where rising and established MCs alike would give away downloads of their projects on sites like Datpiff and LiveMixtapes. But royalty-generating streaming services have made the free model all but obsolete.”
Today, this has worked in the record label’s favor, as they’ve signed more artists to shorter deals while not having to worry about manufacturing physical product. While that trend might not be a bad thing for the industry, it’s focus on just one style of music isn’t exactly pushing things forward as we look for the next big thing. And that’s the same as it’s ever been, as the labels concentrate on what’s big at the moment, while not looking for might be new tomorrow.