Forget Hip-Pop, Rock Still Rules

01/24/2011
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Rock not only dominates album sales in the U.S., it tops digital sales as well according to Nielsen SoundScan who just announced that they have added new Digital Song Genre Reports to its service.

Popularity: Rock is the most popular digital song genre with a 27.0% share, followed by Pop 25.4%, and R&B/Hip-Hop with 21.9%.

Catalog Share: Rock experiences a much higher percentage of catalog sales within the genre, with 72.4% of sales coming from catalog songs. In contrast, the hit-driven genre Rap experienced a much lower 33.9% of catalog sales within the genre, with the majority of sales coming from newer releases.

Nielsen SoundScan offers 27 digital song genres overall and 16 core genres in each classification - Overall, Current, & Catalog. Current includes digital songs released in 2009 or 2010; Catalog includes digital songs released prior to 2009. More than five million songs have been coded with genres to date.

Nielsen offers two levels of genre categorization - Core Genre and overall Genre. Core is the primary genre for any given song (a song may only have one core genre assignment) and overall Genre, which allows for digital songs to cross multiple genres simultaneously in order to better evaluate a song's overall performance in the current market.

Genres Ranked by Percent Share of 2010 Total Digital Track Sales
Source: Nielsen SoundScan Overall Genres, sales from 1/4/2010 – 1/2/2011

Genre Percent Share of Total Track Sales 2010

Overall CurrentΉ Catalog²
Rock 27.0% 16.6% 35.4%
Pop 25.4% 33.4% 19.0%
R&B/Hip-Hop 21.9% 27.1% 17.6%
Rap 13.3% 19.7% 8.2%
Alternative Rock 12.2% 9.3% 14.6%
Country 9.9% 10.2% 9.7%
Hard Rock 5.2% 2.7% 7.3%
Dance/Electronic 4.2% 5.1% 3.4%
Christian/Gospel 3.2% 2.9% 3.4%
Christian 2.6% 2.6% 2.7%
Latin 1.7% 1.5% 1.8%
Jazz 1.1% 0.6% 1.5%
Holiday/Seasonal 1.1% 0.5% 1.5%
Classical 0.7% 0.2% 1.2%
Children 0.7% 1.0% 0.5%
Latin - Pop 0.7% 0.7% 0.7%
Reggae 0.5% 0.2% 0.8%
Gospel 0.5% 0.3% 0.7%
Comedy 0.4% 0.5% 0.4%
World Music 0.4% 0.2% 0.6%
Latin - Rhythm 0.3% 0.3% 0.2%
Blues 0.2% 0.1% 0.4%
Latin - Tropical 0.2% 0.3% 0.2%
Regional Mexican 0.2% 0.2% 0.2%
Broadway 0.2% 0.1% 0.3%
New Age 0.1% 0.1% 0.2%
Bluegrass 0.1% 0.1% 0.2%

Genres Ranked by Share of Digital Track Catalog Sales within Each Genre
Source: Nielsen SoundScan Overall Genres, sales from 1/4/2010 – 1/2/2011

Genre % Catalog² Share
Blues 89.1%
Classical 87.9%
New Age 84.2%
World Music 81.2%
Broadway 80.4%
Reggae 79.4%
Holiday/Seasonal 77.1%
Hard Rock 76.8%
Jazz 75.9%
Rock 72.4%
Bluegrass 71.5%
Gospel 71.0%
Alternative Rock 66.1%
Latin 59.7%
Christian/Gospel 59.0%
Regional Mexican 58.6%
Latin - Pop 57.2%
Christian 56.3%
Country 54.0%
Comedy 49.2%
Latin - Tropical 47.0%
Dance/Electronic 45.5%
R&B/Hip-Hop 44.6%
Pop 41.3%
Latin - Rhythm 39.3%
Children 36.4%
Rap 33.9%
Total 55.4%

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