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Mid-Year 2022: Hip-Hop’s Still the Top Genre But Latin & World Music Are Making Gains

"Encanto," Bad Bunny and K-Pop fueled surges for different genres, though the established order remains in place.

Luminate’s 2022 mid-year charts measuring the U.S. music market, released this past week, showed a Disney domination, a Bad Bunny boom, a strong second quarter for Sony Music and a softening of the vinyl market, among other insights. And some of those trends are also reflected in assessing the market by genre, as broken out by Luminate, which shows a stalwart leading the way and some big gains for music artists from outside the borders of the United States.

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Overall, total equivalent album units in the U.S. music market grew 9.3% so far in 2022 over the same period in 2021, with on-demand streaming up 11.6% over that span as well. And R&B/hip-hop led the way as both the top genre and the one with the most growth by volume, pacing the market once again. But though the established top 10 genres remained unchanged from the midpoint of 2021, there were several trends that suggest a shakeup to the status quo could be on the horizon. Here is a look at the genre figures halfway through 2022.

R&B/Hip-Hop Remains On Top

R&B/hip-hop may be growing slower percentage-wise than the other two top leading genres (up 6.3% compared to rock at 7.3% and Pop at 8.3%) but it still outgrew every other genre in raw numbers year over year, meaning that even though its share of the overall market dropped from 28.4% midway through last year to 27.64% at the halfway point this year, it’s actually widened its lead at the top in terms of overall equivalent album units. It’s the only genre to have passed 100 million equivalent album units so far this year, and at 131.4 million, it’s not close. And while its total on-demand streaming growth (up 6.2%) is lower than the rate of the market overall (11.6%), it is still far and away the industry leader in streams, accounting for 29.39% of all on-demand streams in the U.S. in the first half of 2022, even as its share of streams declined from a 30.87% mark last year — a figure that speaks more to explosive growth in other genres (and the statistical difficulty of maintaining growth percentages as volume increases) than any dip within the R&B/hip-hop world.

Children’s Music’s Encanto Bump

With the success of Encanto — the biggest album of the first half of 2022 — children’s music had the largest percentage growth year over year so far (up 45.7%), though its growth is slowing down a touch as the year moves along; it was up 58.4% in the first quarter over the same period last year. From Jan. 1 to June 30, children’s music stood at 1.54% of the total market, up from 1.15% midway through last year. Its growth in share of streams is similarly reflected: up 50% to 1.51% this year from 1.12% last year. In fact, children’s music is the only genre to be up in all metrics across the board: sales, streams, equivalent albums and even digital track sales are all up at least 30% mid-year over mid-year.

World Music, Latin Music Surge

World music (up 26.4%) and Latin both grew at a lightning-fast pace; Latin grew at such a rate (28.4%) that in absolute numbers only R&B/Hip-Hop grew more, edging out rock for second-biggest growth in raw units, up 6.6 million over the same period last year. It’s Latin’s second straight year of 20%-plus growth, taking it to 6.25% of the total market, up from 5.32% at this point last year; and world music’s second straight year of double-digit percentage growth, taking it to 2.2% of the market, up from 1.9% midway through 2021. (The “world music” classification is generally a catchall of non-Latin music genres that originated outside the contiguous United States, and includes K-Pop and Afrobeats, among others.) Though every measured core genre is up at least a little bit year-over-year, only Latin, world, children and new age are growing at a faster rate than the market overall (9.3%) — and the top four genres all dropped in percentage of the overall market.

A Race For Fourth Place?

Country remains comfortably the No. 4 genre, though it is quickly losing ground to Latin — and the trends are narrowing the gap. Country is down from a 8.23% market share midway through last year to 7.83% at the halfway mark this year, while Latin is up from 5.32% to 6.23%. And while country is growing in equivalent album units (+4.0%) and overall on-demand streaming (+7.6%), those are both below the industry growth metrics (9.3% and 11.6%, respectively). The genre’s album sales figure (down 19.8%) is also decreasing faster than the broader industry (down 8.7%). It has, at least, been picking up from a slow start to the year: In the first quarter, country accounted for just 7.41% of the market overall.

Latin, meanwhile, at a 6.25% market share, is up 28.4% in equivalent album units and 27.4% in on-demand streaming — both far outstripping the broader industry. And the genre’s decline in album sales (down 3.4%) is less steep than the business at large. Latin has already overtaken country in terms of share of the on-demand streaming market, boosting from 6.72% midway through last year to 7.67% at the halfway point this year, passing country’s 7.32% share in 2022 so far. Whether that’s a Bad Bunny bump or a lasting trend is something to keep an eye on, but it’s worth noting that Latin was still up 25% in Q1 2022 over the first quarter of 2021 — and that’s before Benito’s Un Verano Sin Tí was released.

Growth Rankings

The top five genres in the U.S. have remained steady for several years now, and reflect the overall volume of listening nationally: R&B/hip-hop, rock, pop, country and Latin, in that order. But looking at the genres ranked by unit growth over the past year shakes up the rankings: R&B/hip-hop is still the leader in growth, accounting for 19.43% of the bump in the market over the midpoint of 2021, while rock and Pop slot in at Nos. 3 and 4. Latin jumps to No. 2, while world music, at No. 7 overall, leaps to No. 5, outpacing country and dance/electronic (the latter is no. 6 overall). Collectively, those top five genres — R&B/hip-hop, Latin, rock, pop and world music — account for 68.78% of the growth overall in the first six months of 2022.

Additional Observations

— Rock dominates the sales format, even though it dropped 6.7% in overall album sales mid-year over mid-year: its 20.7 million album sales in the first half of this year dwarf every other genre and account for 44.04% of all album sales in the U.S. in the first half of 2022.

— Physical album sales in the comedy genre have doubled mid-year over mid-year (up 99.5%) — and the reason is almost entirely down to the vinyl release of Bo Burnham’s Inside (The Songs), his smash hit album from June of last year that was released on the format in mid-December 2021 and has moved 44,000 physical copies (29,000 of them vinyl) in 2022 so far.

— New age, as noted above, is growing faster than the market overall. While the genre’s market share is just 0.61%, consumption has grown 12.8% mid-year over mid-year in equivalent album units and 16.5% in on-demand streaming. So, what’s driving the growth? It’s sort of unclear, but it does seem that a lot of people are listening to an awful lot of Enya, who accounts for around 6% of the total genre consumption.

— The world music core genre grew in market share with big leaps in streaming and equivalent album units. But it also made a significant jump in physical album sales — likely due to their prevalence in K-pop — which grew 22.2% mid-year over mid-year, and now makes up a significant chunk of the physical media market: 5.40%, up from 4.21% halfway through 2021, and accounts for 4.61% of the overall sales market so far this year.

Source: Luminate, for the tracking period Dec. 31, 2021, through June 30, 2022.