Music album consumption U.S. 2018, by genre

In 2018, hip-hop and rap music accounted for 21.7 percent of total music consumption in the United States, more than double the percentage of R&B music sales. Other highly popular genres included pop and rock music, whereas just 1.1 percent of all music sold in the U.S. in 2018 was jazz.

Why are some genres more popular than others?

  Whilst music is a highly subjective medium in terms of the listener’s taste and preferences, the top genres in terms of consumption tend not to fluctuate heavily. The catchiness and familiarity of pop music is appealing to a wide range of music fans. Pop songs tend to be easy to listen to and remember, usually feature simple, snappy lyrics to avoid polarizing listeners, making pop overall less divisive than other genres because it is designed to generate mass appeal.

Conversely, religious music by its very nature is a niche genre in that it encompasses, describes or advocates certain beliefs, giving it the equal ability to alienate some listeners while appealing enormously to others, depending on their religious stance.

The hit genre of 2018 was hip-hop and rap, a music style notorious for its tendency to divide listeners. Singer Drake arguably influenced sales within the genre that year, with ‘Scorpion’ topping the list of best-selling albums in the United States based on total streams and ‘Scary Hours’ also making the top ten. Drake came tenth in the list of most successful music tours in North America, with revenue from his live concerts amounting to 79 million U.S. dollars, and second in the ranking was Jay-Z and Beyoncé with 166.4 million dollars in revenue, artists whose music is also strongly aligned with the rap and hip-hop genre.

Other artists in the genre who achieved significant influence in 2018 include Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Cardi B, Travis Scott and Post Malone, many of whom released songs that year which garnered hundreds of millions of audio streams. The sheer amount of hip-hop and rap music flooding the music industry has had a profound effect on the genre’s popularity, and musicians in the category tend to be prolific songwriters and active social media users. Equally, artists in the genre are arguably passionate about creating music which challenges social norms in a way that rock music has always been famous for.

Share of total music album consumption* in the United States in 2018, by genre

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Release date

January 2019


United States

Survey time period


Supplementary notes

* Album consumption is calculated as follows:
Total Album Project Units = Album Sales + (Song Sales/10) + (On-Demand Audio Streams/1500)

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Statistics on "Music industry in the U.S."

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