Hip-Hop Continued to Dominate the Music Business in 2018

Nearly a quarter of all tracks consumed in the U.S. came from rap

From Rolling Stone
by Elias Leight

Hip-hop dominated music streaming in 2017, leading to some eye-popping record deals for rising stars — $8 million for Lil Pump, $10 million for XXXTentacion before his death, another $15 million for Brockhampton. That wasn’t a one-year spurt in listening, according to the new year-end report published on Thursday by BuzzAngle, which tracks music consumption data. Impressively, hip-hop continued to consolidate its lead over other genres in 2018.

Listeners sought out more rap singles and more rap albums last year. Hip-hop tracks were already more popular than any other kind in 2017, accounting for 20.9% of songs consumption. That number jumped to a stunning 24.7% in 2018, meaning that nearly a quarter of all tracks listened to in the U.S. came from rap. (BuzzAngle measures track consumption by combining sales and on-demand streams at the rate of 1 sale = 150 on-demand streams.)

In addition, a sizable gulf opened up between rap and its genre competitors last year. In 2017, hip-hop was in a tight race with rock, which pulled in 19.8% of all songs consumption. But consumption of rock tracks dropped precipitously in 2018, down to 11.7%. That means hip-hop now has an impressive lead over the runner-up genre, pop, which accounted for 19% of all songs listening.

Though rap albums lagged behind rock albums in 2017 — 17.5% of total consumption relative to 22.2% — that changed drastically in 2018 as well. Just like rap songs, rap albums experienced major growth in popularity, rising to account for 21.7% of all album consumption. In contrast, rock full-lengths’ share of listening fell to 14%. Pop albums are now rap’s closest competitor, accounting for 20.1% of all album listening. (BuzzAngle measures album consumption by combining physical and digital sales, song downloads at the rate of 10 downloads = 1 album and on-demand streams at the rate of 1,500 on-demand streams = 1 album.)

The demand for hip-hop is so high that even when rap albums come out at odd times, they still succeed. Bronx rapper A Boogie wit da Hoodie released Hoodie SZN without a walk-up hit single on the Friday before Christmas, when listeners are typically obsessed with holiday music and don’t pay attention to much else. But the unorthodox strategy didn’t impede sales: Hoodie SZN debuted at Number Two behind another rap album, 21 Savage’s I Am > I Was. “Hip-hop is being consumed at a historic rate,” says Michael ‘Emm’ Acheampong-Boateng, who co-manages A Boogie. “The genre’s never been higher. The fans are engaged, and they’re willing to spend money.”


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