In terms of song consumption, hip-hop, rap, and pop are the most popular genres in the U.S., yet massive markets also exist for rock, R&B, Latin, country, and many more. Some of the top selling albums in music history come from U.S. artists who performed in these genres: Michael Jackson’s famous pop album “Thriller” ranking at the top with over 47 million units sold. While these album sales records are unlikely to ever be broken due to the move towards streaming, the country’s most popular contemporary songs routinely get hundreds of millions of audio streams per year, a feat that would have been impossible in the days before streaming. “God’s Plan” by Drake is a great example, with the song accumulating a massive 917 million audio streams in the U.S. in 2018 alone.
Another key facet of the music industry is the strength of major publishing companies both in the U.S. and around the world. As of 2018, three companies (Warner Chappell, Universal, and Sony/ATV) accountted for over 58 percent of the world’s music publishing revenue. Sony alone reported over 7 billion dollars in annual sales and operating revenue from its music segment, and the company’s influence extends far beyond revenue numbers. Record labels owned by these companies have deals with many of the world’s biggest music star stars who are paid handsomely for their signature. In 2018 alone, Taylor Swift was paid nearly 100 million dollars for her work.
Addressing U.S. music consumers themselves, around 51 percent of U.S. adults report that they listen to music every single day, with another 20 percent listening 2 to 3 times per week. Streaming, the newest format for music consumption, accounts for over 40 percent of time spent listening to music, and perhaps surprisingly, radio, one of the oldest formats, continues to account for a significant portion of listening time. Younger Americans seem to be particularly interested in music, with a large share describing themselves as avid music fans, a fact that bodes well for the future of the industry.
Music is such a crucial part of the everyday lives of people both in the U.S. and around the world that the future of the industry is never really in question. Although they have changed the industry dramatically, streaming apps like Spotify only help to further the reach of music around the country and give people the opportunity and ability to find bands and even genres that they would have never found otherwise.