Change of music album sales in the United States by genre
In 2012, albums representing only three music genres—country, rock and soundtrack—rose in popularity among American consumers. Sales growth in these music genres ranged from 2 to 4.2 percent, relatively insignificant numbers, especially compared with losses sustained by other genres in the same period. Sales of jazz albums shrank by over a quarter, classical music over a fifth, and Latin music by nearly 18 percent.
These figures back the results of recent consumer surveys, in which Americans were asked to specify their favorite music genre. In 2012, nearly 28 percent of adults named country and 27 percent named rock as their preferred style. Among teenagers, country and rock ranked high as well, taking second and fourth places respectively.
Such results are only partly mirrored, however, in hard sales figures. Unit sales figures show that rock was the best-selling genre in 2012, with over 120 million albums sold. Country, meanwhile, ranked only fourth and was outsold by alternative music with over 52 million and R&B with nearly 50 million.
More generally, album sales, especially physical album sales, are shrinking as Americans move their music consumption to digital platforms. Album sales contracted by 4.4 percent in 2012, whereas digital track sales grew by 5.1 percent. Thanks to the infusion of digital revenues, the music industry is developing positively and will continue on that track in the near future. In 2012, industry revenue grew 3.1 percent and generated in total 15 billion U.S. dollars. The figure is expected to reach 16 billion in 2017.