• Josh Warriner

Is Rock Dead? - A Look at the Numbers to Answer the Question

There has been a question on the minds of the fans of rock music for many years now, and the popularity of this question has increased in recent years do to perceived certainty of the response. The simple question: is rock dead?

With the rise of popular music which takes primarily from the genres of hip-hop and R&B, rock is no longer at the top of the popular music lexicon, as it was for nearly five decades. With the dethroning of rock music, comes the natural question of whether or not the genre is dying.

With these facts in mind one might be inclined to sign the death certificate without searching further. The simple answer appears to be that rock music was dethroned, and thus must be dying.

Trends come and go uncountably, but genres never seem to die. But what defines and genre versus a musical trend? What makes a musical styling go beyond the identity of a fad and become a staple of musical language?

The Key Difference Between Fads and Genres

The difference between these two musical terms can be outlined by a few key distinctions.

Fads usually fall within genres. For example, ultimately the nu-metal movement falls under the nominal genre, metal. Although it could be classified as a genre in itself, it would be more accurately defined as a subgenre.

Subgenres would be most closely defined as trends, as a subgenre is typically a movement within a genre which lasts less time than the genre in which it's based.

With this categorization in mind, rock would clearly be classified as a genre, and not a trend. As a musical staple which has lasted since the 1950s, rock has safely established itself as one of the fundamental genres of modern music.

The Question

With that in mind, we can look at rock music objectively in order to answer the question of the state of rock music today.

Our diagnosis, when taking into account what makes a genre, and the numbers released by Spotify, is that while the prevalence of rock has decreased, it certainly hasn't died.

Looking at the statistics, one of the most streamed groups of the last few years is modern rock group Imagine Dragons. Other groups such as Coldplay, Twenty One Pilots, and Arctic Monkeys further the point that rock hasn't died with their strong streaming numbers (each with over 10,000,000 monthly listeners respectively,) and sold out arena shows.

Rock lives on in the same way that jazz or country does, not an entirely mainstream genre in the present day, but still with a large group of devoted followers that will likely never dissipate.

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