Good News, Rock Fans: Your Favourite Music Is Still the Most Popular

How many times have we heard the phrase “rock is dead”? It comes up with alarming regularity and almost always when the music cycle swings over to pop.

  • 1957: Elvis goes into the army.
  • 1969: Altamont
  • 1977: Disco
  • 1981: The synthesizer revolution
  • 1987: The rise of New Kids on the Block and their ilk.
  • 1996: Hip hop grabs hold in the white suburbs.
  • 1999: Britney Spears comes to town, bringing all her boy bands with her.
  • 2009: Justin Beiber
  • 2014: Taylor Swift

However, rock remains stubbornly alive, even though it’s been at the bottom of the pile more times than it can remember. But remember Brad Pitt’s character in Snatch? It’s like that. Beat rock up all you want, but it keeps getting up to kick everyone’s ass.

New data from Nielsen Music about the the US market shows that the number one genre is–you guessed it–rock. Of all the albums and tracks purchases and songs streamed in ‘Murcia in 2014, 29% went to rock. And despite the ubiquity of pop (think Bieber, Trainor, Swifts), it accounted for only 14.9% of the market. Hip hop wasn’t far behind (17.2%), followed by country (11%) while EDM brought up the rear (3.4%).


Music Business Worldwide has some colourful charts that show rock’s dominance in overall consumption, total album sales, total track sales and streaming. In each case, rock has a comfortable lead over pop. Think about that the next time some EDM fan tells you that your music is dead.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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