What is the Most Popular Music Genre?

You might be surprised to see that it is not "Pop".

What is the Most Popular Music Genre?
Photo by Nick Fewings / Unsplash

We all have our own distinct music tastes. Those tastes evolve and change over time. So too does humanity's taste in music change over time.

Genre Releases Over Time*

Let's see an overview of how our music tastes have changed over the years by looking at the number of releases for each genre in each year.

I'll be honest, I expected Pop to be on top the entire time (I mean Pop does stand for "Popular" right?). It was interesting, for me, to see Rock take over in the late 70's.  

We also see Electronic jump on the scene around the same time, but it doesn't really take off until the late 80's and early 90's.  Electronic music took over the top spot in 1992 and it still wears the crown today, though it was shortly overthrown by Rock again in 2014 & 2015.


I'm not yet going to be bold enough to say that Electronic and Rock are the most consumed music genres today, but they are the most produced music genres.

I don't think it would be a stretch to assume that they are in the top genres consumed as well. Artists wouldn't produce it if they and others didn't enjoy listening to it, right? Either way, music genre consumption sounds like a good topic for a later post.

Contact Festival | Marshmello | BC Place, Vancouver, Canada | 2017
Photo by Aditya Chinchure / Unsplash

What Are Your Thoughts?

  • Why do you think Rock took over in the late 70's and Electronic took over in the early 90's? My instinct tells me that the rise of Electronic music production probably correlates to the rise in popularity of the personal computer.
  • Are there any particular artists that you think are responsible for pushing the popularity of the Rock and Electronic genres?

Let us know on our facebook page or shoot me an email at sovine@therecordindustry.io.

* Data from Discogs database as of October 1, 2021. For this experiment we are looking at Master releases.

Understanding the Data

We used a different data source in this experiment than what we have used in previous posts. For this experiment we used the Discogs database as our source of data.

The reason for using Discogs is the completeness and standardization of their genre information compared to Musicbrainz. We found that only ~12% of releases in the Musicbrainz database were tagged with additional information (e.g. genre) and these tags were very inconsistent.

From Discogs, we used the Master releases which the Discogs website defines as:

16.1. Master release is a display function that gathers two or more matching releases together. It can be thought of as a folder that holds two or more Discogs releases. An example would be gathering several versions of an album, such as Michael Jackson - Off The Wall. Master release does not change the data of the contained releases.