By Haddon Libby

The Coachella Valley has been the epicenter of live music for the last three weeks which brings up the question – ‘What is the most popular music genre in the United States?’

According to Nielsen Music, Rock commands 30% of all music industry revenues followed closely by Rap/R&B at 22%, Pop at 19% and Country with 10%.  The remaining 19% goes to Latin (5%), Electronic (4%), Christian/Gospel (3%), Christmas, Jazz and Classical with 2% each and Children’s Music with 1%.  Across the board, music sales have been down annually by double-digit figures as listeners move toward music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify.

Here in California, pop music like Adele, Ed Sheeran and Beyonce rule.  This is the only state where pop music is the top musical genre.


With Stagecoach in town, it is interesting to note that Country music is the top music genre in 13 states including Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nebraska, Arkansas, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware.  This is a bit surprising as you would think that the southern states would be more interested in country.  In fact, classic rock dominates in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Indie/Folk Rock rules in Washington, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont.  Alternative rock reigns supreme in Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, Missouri, and Maine.

Nevada is the only state where Electronica is the most popular music style while Hawaii is the only place where R&B dominates.  Latin music leads in Texas and Florida.

Hard Rockers and Metal heads seem to reside in Arizona, both Dakotas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Connecticut. 

While Rap/Hip-hop is the second most popular genre in the United States, it is not the dominant genre in any state. 

When it comes to touring, country musicians are on the road the most followed closely by classic and alternative rockers. 

Globally, the United States spends the most on music annually at $15 billion with live music sales like Coachella and Stagecoach being two of the top grossing musical events in the country. 

Germany comes up second with $4.5 billion in revenues.  The German market is unique due to the surprising strength of classical music and techno.

Close behind Germany is the United Kingdom with $4.3 billion spent annually with Adele, Ed Sheehan and One Direction anchoring their music industry.  Japan has similar revenues to the United Kingdom with half of all revenues from CD sales with J-Pop (Japanese Pop) being the top genre.

The French listen to the most music a day at 2 1/2 hours and come in fifth with $1.8 billion in revenues.

Rounding out the top ten are Canada, Australia, Russia, the Netherlands and China.  China is the fastest growing music market in the world but still has only $1 billion in revenues as piracy and government intervention sabotage sales.

As Stagecoach is underway this weekend, do you know where that genre of music originated?

If you said Nashville, you would be wrong. 

While country music roots can be found in other musical stylings, it appears that the little town of Bristol, Tennessee which is on the Tennessee/Virginia border in the Appalachian region is where country music started.  Originally called ‘Hillbilly music’, the Carter family and railroad worker, Jimmy Rodgers, are attributed with popularizing this regional style. 

One of the top proponents of early country music was Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company.  He promoted country music as he was worried that couples jazz dancing, which was taking the big cities by storm, promoted decadence and promiscuity. 

Haddon Libby is the Managing Partner of Winslow Drake Investment Management and can be reached at 760.449.6349 or