May 18, 2024


Buzz The Music

Billboard Rankings of Top Music Genres in 2023: Country, Latin Gain

By almost every metric, the music business in 2023 has been defined by Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen. Collectively, they have led the Billboard 200 and the Hot 100 for 23 of the 52 weeks of the year, with Swift topping Billboard’s year-end Top Artists chart and Wallen ruling both the year-end Billboard 200 Albums and Hot 100 Songs charts with One Thing at a Time and “Last Night,” respectively.

Combined, the two recording artists have an astounding 2.49% in overall U.S. album consumption unit market share, according to Luminate. (Year-to-year percentages are based on data from Dec. 29, 2022, through Dec. 28, 2023.) Their domination underscores a year of explosive growth for country — of the two rerecorded albums Swift released in 2023, Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) qualified in the genre — which is up 21.8% year over year. That’s almost double the 12.6% year-to-year growth of recorded music overall for the same period and nearly five times the 4.8% increase the genre had from 2021 to 2022.

Country music accounted for 8.40% of the recorded-music market in 2023, up from 7.76% the year prior — and Swift and Wallen weren’t the only acts fueling those gains. Hit albums by Zach Bryan, Luke Combs and Bailey Zimmerman helped country’s current market share — defined as releases that arrived within the past 18 months — surge from 7.97% to 10.37% year over year, a 30% gain. And while that’s only good enough for third place when the genres are ranked by current market share, No. 1 hip-hop and No. 2 pop both fell year over year: the former from 26.72 % to 22.32%, the latter from 13.07% to 11.13%.

Country’s growth almost outstripped Latin music’s strides. Which isn’t to say Latin had a down year — the genre grew 21.9% year over year, the third-highest mark in the industry, largely due to the mainstream success of such new acts as Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado, and its volume growth (13.5 million units year over year) bested that of pop (11.6 million). In 2021, Latin’s share of the overall industry was 6.33%; in 2023 that number has jumped to 6.86%, and its 37.8 billion on-demand streams for current releases is the third-highest among genres.

R&B/Hip-Hop Slips Again

R&B/hip-hop remains firmly entrenched as the No. 1 U.S. genre with 25.27% of the market, largely because of its outsize percentage of on-demand streams. (The genre accounts for more than one in four streams.) But some metrics indicate that hip-hop’s dominance — it commanded nearly 30% of the overall market in 2020 — may be waning.

The genre’s market share has dipped every year since that 2020 peak, as has its share of on-demand streams, which stood at 30.11% in 2021 and is now at 26.63%. Current consumption of R&B/hip-hop has also slipped 7.4% from 2022 to 2023 and is down in every format for the same period — including the genre’s strong suit, streams, which dropped 7.0% to 93.2 billion. Despite No. 1 Billboard 200 releases from Travis Scott, Drake and Rod Wave, among others, hip-hop albums have continued to lose share since the midyear headlines that the genre had not produced any full-length chart-toppers. That said, its 93.2 billion current streams is more than double the 38.8 billion racked up by 2023’s second-place genre, pop, which sustained overall growth this year. And while R&B/hip-hop’s overall growth, at 5.9%, was 10th among genres, it finished third on that metric in overall volume, adding 15.6 million equivalent album units over last year, behind only rock and country.

Tipping The Sales Scales

While overall album sales have seesawed over the last few years, they have shown growth this year — up 5.2% after a down 2022. Driving sales once again is rock, which has a monumentally large share of the market: 41.47% of all album sales and 43.36% of physical sales. Those numbers are larger than the next four genres — R&B/hip-hop, pop, country and World music, in that order — combined and largely stem from immense catalog sales. Rock sales account for 47.50% of the entire catalog category — defined as music older than 18 months — a 4.0% year-over-year increase. Rock catalog album sales totaled 30.8 million units in 2023, more than the combined sales — current and catalog — of the next two genres, pop and R&B/hip-hop.

Latin music’s album sales growth is the inverse of rock. With just 0.57% of overall album sales in 2023, the genre ranks 14th out of the 15 core genres tracked by Luminate — lower than blues, jazz, classical and holiday/seasonal. Only new age placed below it.

Like hip-hop, Latin’s huge overall growth comes mostly from on-demand audio streams, but also a big chunk of the on-demand video streaming market, 10.0%, which is larger than its 6.86% overall market share. Pop is the only other genre on this chart where its market share of on-demand video streams exceeds its overall percentage by that much: 17.35% to 12.33%.

World Music’s Gains

Latin is just one genre of non-English-­language music that occupies more and more of the mainstream U.S. music market. The umbrella genre of World music, which includes K-pop and Afrobeats, among other styles, has grown massively. In 2019, World music accounted for 1.69% of the overall industry; in 2023, that’s up to 2.73%, a 35.3% jump. That growth is most evident when looking at album sales. World music captured 6.93% of the market this year, with physical sales totaling 7.96% of that figure. The bulk of those sales is attributable to K-pop, which surged 88.8% year over year. Afrobeats also had a big impact on the genre, particularly in on-demand streaming, where it was up 54.3% year over year.

Titanic Taylor

Swift’s dominance of music and popular culture this year has been well documented. But how big is she in genre terms? With 18.89 million in album consumption units (albums plus track-equivalent albums plus streaming-equivalent albums) so far this year, her industry market share is 1.72%. If Swift was her own genre, she’d rank at No. 9 based on the data used here — just a few thousand units shy of Christian/gospel’s 1.76% market share and ahead of children music’s 1.11%. In 2023, Taylor Swift is bigger than jazz.