Country Music Sees Streaming Surge

Country Music is Beating the Odds During Coronavirus

For the last five years, the music industry has grown at a steady clip. Global revenues rose, streaming services attracted more users, and concert ticket sales reached an all-time high of $10 billion.

However, in mid-March, when coronavirus shut down the United States, concerts were canceled, and the amount of music consumed dropped by roughly 550 million streams per week. Yet despite the industry’s struggles, one genre in particular boomed: country music.

Diving Into the Data

Data from music streaming services shows that streaming numbers for genres like hip-hop/R&B, Latin, and dance declined during the pandemic, while country music streams increased by 11.1%. This translates to an additional 127 million streams per week since the middle of March. The momentum continued and during the last week of May country music streaming was up 22.4%.

Stars like Kenny Chesney, Kelsea Ballerini, and Sam Hunt released new music which helped contribute to some of the increase in listening. However, even music that was released over six months ago, like Luke Combs’ best-selling album, saw an increase in streams, which leads some analysts to wonder why country music is thriving during a difficult time for the rest of the industry.

Country Comfort

Some industry executives say that country music saw an uptick because Americans are looking for comfort in uncertain times.

“Look at alcohol sales right now. They’re through the roof,” Beville Dunkerley, Pandora’s Head of Country Music,
. “What other genre of music has better drinking songs? Country music can’t lose right now.”

Although Dunkerley may have a point, a more likely reason for the boost is that Spotify (SPOT) and other streaming services are finally reaching country’s older, whiter, and more rural fanbases. Country is the third most-popular genre of music in the US, and the second most-popular among people who still buy CDs. This may help explain why even older country albums are experiencing an uptick in streams. Either way, country music bucked the trend during coronavirus and may continue its gallop into the summer months.

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