In retrospect, 2022 will be remembered as the year of Bad Bunny. And while his album Un Verano Sin Ti dominated much of the year after its May 6 release, the boost that it gave to Latin music’s share of the overall market — with the highest growth in percentage year over year of any genre, going from 5.39% in 2021 to 6.33% in 2022, an increase of 28.8% — is not simply a one album, or even one year, phenomenon.
Between 2020 and 2022, Latin music grew 55.29% in album consumption in the U.S., according to Luminate, far outstripping the overall industry’s 21.61%, as well as the growth of the four biggest genres in the U.S. over that time: R&B/hip-hop (12.17%), rock (22.28%), pop (20.64%) and country (19.22%). And Latin isn’t alone: World Music has also made tremendous strides over that time period, growing 47.67% from 2020 through 2022 on the Stateside growth of K-Pop and Afrobeats, among other ex-U.S. genres, and up 25.8% in 2022 over 2021. Both genres have seen over 20% growth in on-demand audio streams dating back to 2019, while the overall industry has grown in that sector in the mid-teens each year during that time.
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Those are two of just four genres (of the 15 tracked by Luminate) that grew at a faster rate than the overall music industry in 2022, which increased consumption 9.2% year over year. (The other two were children’s music, at 30.0%, and dance/electronic, at 11.7%; new age grew essentially in line with the business). And it speaks to how significant that growth has been, and could continue to be moving forward as the business becomes increasingly more global.
With 2023 fully underway, here are four more trends to watch this year:
How Big Is a Hit?
Children’s music (1.38%) overtook holiday music (1.26%) as the ninth-biggest genre in the U.S. this year due to the runaway success of Encanto, which helped boost the genre by 30% in consumption year over year (35.5% in on-demand streams). How significant was the effect of that hit? Growth for the genre year over year was 6.7% in 2020, and actually declined -3.7% in 2021, with on-demand streaming dropping 2.8% in each of those years. The growth is almost certainly unsustainable, but it shows the value of a surprise mainstream hit. For a related analog, comedy was the only genre to actually decline year over year, due to the sector coming back down to earth after the huge gains from Bo Burnham’s Inside (The Songs) album in 2021. From 2020 to 2021, overall comedy consumption ballooned 27.3%, with total on-demand streams growing 28.4%; those numbers fell to -11.3% and -5.0% in 2022, as the effect of the album receded.
Major Genres Shrinking in Share
As a statement of fact, year over year the four biggest, most dominant genres in the U.S. all declined in terms of their share of the overall market: R&B/hip-hop (from 27.72% in 2021 to 26.82% in 2022), rock (20.01% in 2021 to 19.95% in 2022), pop (13.05% in 2021 to 12.68% in 2022) and country (8.09% in 2021 to 7.76% in 2022). But there are a few ways of looking at that.
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The first is that, when a genre is as dominant as R&B/hip-hop, for example, maintaining the same percentage growth gets harder every year. And the growth is still huge: the top four genres accounted for 67.21% of the market in 2022, even if down slightly from the 68.87% they held in 2021, and just shy of 50% of the gains year over year. And rock and R&B/hip-hop saw the two biggest increases in raw consumption numbers over 2021, with the former claiming 19.37% of the growth in 2022 over the year prior and the latter 17.13% of it.
The other way to look at it is that the market is, slowly but steadily, diversifying. Latin, the fifth-biggest genre in the country, was third in percentage of growth in the market, up 16.38% year over year; less than 1 million units separated its increase from R&B/hip-hop’s in 2022. Pop was fourth (8.67% of industry growth), but world music — the seventh-biggest genre overall — claimed the fifth-highest share of the market’s growth, at 5.53% year over year. And country, which claimed 4.17% of the growth, was run a close race by Dance/Electronic, at 4.14%. Just three years ago, in 2020, Latin made up 4.95% of the overall market and World Music 1.88%. That doesn’t seem like regular fluctuation, but a true growth trend.
Over the last few years, there has been an accepted fact of the marketplace: In a streaming world that reflects not just what people are buying, but what people are continuing to stream and listen to, R&B/hip-hop dominates. That is still, unquestionably, the case. But lately there has been some hand-wringing about the slowing growth of the genre and what that could mean for the broader marketplace, a fair question for others to answer.
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Here are some facts: R&B/hip-hop is now 26.82% of consumption. It’s been growing consistently — up around 6% per year the last few years — though not as much as the marketplace overall for several years now percentage-wise. And its share of total on-demand streams dropped from 30.11% in 2021 to 28.61% in 2022. In raw numbers it’s still growing massively, though, second only to rock in share of the industry’s total unit growth in 2022. And compared to 2017 — the year that Luminate predecessor Nielsen first declared that R&B/hip-hop had become the biggest genre in the industry — it still claims a higher share of the market. So while it displays a higher variance year to year than some other genres, the sky isn’t falling just yet.
R&B/Hip-Hop Share of Consumption By Year: 2017: 24.52% 2018: 25.94% 2019: 28.62% 2020: 29.07% 2021: 27.72% 2022: 26.82%
Country Streaming Sputters, Rock’s Resilience
Country’s streaming growth is slowing down. After big gains in audio on-demand streaming the past two years (22.1% in 2020 and 16.5% in 2021) as more of its audience began to embrace the format, that figure slipped below the audio streaming growth of the overall industry in 2022, 11.1% vs. 12.2%, respectively. And total on-demand Country streaming (audio plus video) grew at 9.8%, compared to 12.2% for the overall industry. (Yes, overall and audio on-demand streaming grew at the same rate.) That isn’t the end of the world — R&B/hip-hop on-demand audio streaming has grown less than the overall market percentage-wise in the past few years, though its raw numbers are still massive — but it’s worth noting that the growth is slowing year over year after outpacing the market recently, and its percentage of the growth in on-demand streaming in 2022 was just 6.01%, by far the lowest of the five biggest genres. In total consumption, country grew just 4.8%, slightly over half the rate of growth of the overall industry (9.2%), with its share of the market slipping from 8.09% in 2021 to 7.76% in 2022.
It’s notable compared to the fortunes of rock music. For all the “Rock Is Dead” talk, the format is essentially keeping pace with industry trends overall (up 9.0% in consumption, 14.3% in on-demand streams) and actually grew its share of overall on-demand streaming year over year, from 16.30% in 2021 to 16.62% in 2022, while continuing to flat-out dominate in sales (43% of the market). Again, rock was the genre that showed the most growth in 2022 over 2021: at 19.37%, it outpaced R&B/hip-hop (17.13%) and Latin (16.38%) for the biggest share of growth year over year.
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