MusicDish e-Journal - November 27, 2015
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Rock Turns The Table On Pop
Led by Arctic Monkeys, Bastille and Jake Bugg, Rock music claims a third of the albums purchased in 2013 - its largest share since 2010
By Mi2N
(more articles from this author)
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The fact that Pop, in the shape of three Now compilations (86, 85 & 84 respectively), One Direction (Midnight Memories) and Emeli Sandé (Our Version of Events), accounted for the five best-selling albums of 2013, was still not enough to stop Rock overtaking it as the most popular music genre of last year, according to the latest BPI annual survey of music genres based on Official Charts Company data.

Rock climbs above Pop
While the upper echelons of the year-end charts were dominated by Pop releases, a mix of new albums and solid catalogue sales across the total number of titles purchased in 2013 helped Rock's overall share of sales inch above that of Pop's for the first time in three years.

Boosted by the likes of Arctic Monkeys (AM), Bastille (Bad Blood), Jake Bugg (self-titled), Mumford and Sons and Rod Stewart, whose album Time sold over half a million copies, Rock music generated a third (33.8 per cent) of all the UK album sales during the 12-month period – its highest share in five years. Pop as a category, which came out on top in the 2012 survey, was not far behind, however, on 31 per cent.

The depth and popularity of Rock music catalogue also contributed to the genre's strong performance in 2013: Of the top 10,000 best-selling albums in 2013, over 4,000 - 40 per cent - were classified as Rock. The revival of interest in the vinyl format, which is often regarded as an extension of Rock culture and in 2013 saw its highest level of sales in over a decade, arguably also supports the overall trend towards Rock music.

Rock sub-genres
Over half of all Rock music purchased in the UK last year was defined as Contemporary Rock (18.8 per cent out of the 33.8 per cent figure), while 7.1 per cent of the total was A.O.R (Adult Orientated Rock) and 6.8 per cent was categorised as Metal/Heavy. Progressive or 'Prog' Rock (0.8 per cent) and Punk (0.3 per cent) made up the rest of the Rock category.

Dance on the rise
Another riser in the genres 'charts' was Dance music, which, propelled by such acts as Rudimental (Home), Calvin Harris (18 Months) and Disclosure (Settle), accounted for 8.3 per cent of the albums market - the genre's highest share since 2006. Whereas only five Dance titles made it into the list of the 100 best-selling albums of 2012, last year saw this figure increase to twelve.

Bublé and Robbie swing it for MOR/Easy Listening
Dance came in just ahead of MOR/Easy Listening, which was responsible for 8.1 per cent of all albums sales in 2013 thanks mainly to the combined efforts of Michael Bublé (To Be Loved) and, somewhat ironically given his ‘Prince of Pop' mantle, Robbie Williams (Swings Both Ways). The genre was also boosted by the strong performance of the Les Misérables Motion Picture Cast Recording.

Contemporary Urban: R&B and Hip Hop
R&B, which in recent years has been averaging a double-digit share, accounted for only 5.7 per cent of the albums market in 2013 – its lowest figure since 1995. This translated to just five titles in the list of 100 best-selling titles last year. Hip Hop fared little better, with just 3.6 per cent share of the market – albeit fractionally up on 2012 thanks to the strong performance of Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP 2 album. Tastes in music tend to be cyclical, but one further explanation for this dip may be that a number of artists whose heritage lies in Urban music have 'crossed over' into more mainstream Pop or even Dance in recent years.

Speciality genres
Heading the ‘Speciality' genres is Classical music, which remains steady at 3.2 per cent of the albums market, ahead of Country (1.7 per cent), Jazz (1.3 per cent), Folk (1.2 per cent) and Blues (0.9 per cent). Reggae has a 0.7 per cent share of albums sales, with the remainder of the list made up by Children's (0.2 per cent), World Music (0.2 per cent), Spoken Word (0.1 per cent) and New Age (0.1 per cent).

SINGLES - Pop still rules
In contrast to Rock's performance when it comes to albums, an analysis of the Singles market, which is made up 99 per cent of digital downloads, shows that Pop is by far the more dominant genre. It accounts for 36.2 per cent of all singles purchased in 2013 compared to just 21.4 per cent in respect of Rock (still the genre's best performance since 2009 however). Like Pop, Dance is a category that performs proportionately better on the singles front - responsible for 16.1 per cent of sales, a trend also evident with R&B (13.5 per cent). R&B's strong performance was thanks in part to the huge No.1 success of Robin Thicke, T.I. and Pharrell Williams' smash hit Blurred Lines, while Hip Hop (8.6 per cent) benefited from the success of two Macklemore releases.

COMPILATION ALBUMS - Now albums help Pop outsell Rock by 8 - 1
The popularity of Pop over Rock is even more pronounced when it comes to compilations, accounting for nearly half of all UK compilation sales in 2013 (44.9 per cent) and outselling Rock-based titles by a margin of 8 to 1.

Such a performance shouldn't come as a surprise given the huge popularity of the Pop-inspired Now range, which claimed the top 3 best-selling albums of 2013 (Now 86, 85 and 84 respectively in terms of sales). Pop actually came in ahead of Dance, which accounted for 27.7 per cent of the comps market – thanks mainly to the success of the Ministry of Sound range, followed by R&B (6.9 per cent), Rock (only 6 per cent), MOR/Easy Listening (5 per cent) and Classical (4.3 per cent).

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