Is This the Year of Rock Music’s Comeback?

Due to the changes in music over the last few decades, it’s unlikely that any genre will make a “comeback.” Today, whatever you want to listen to is readily available on a stream that will exclude whatever you don’t like. This individualization has created dozens, if not hundreds of new genres and subgenres.


What Qualifies as a Comeback?

Sure, rock music may get a few more overall hits in the next year or two. Maybe not. Would that mean it had made a “comeback”? Today, for rock music to reclaim its place as the top-selling genre, it has to make waves in the streaming game. For whatever reason, that isn’t happening.


Diversification Leads to Smaller Audiences All-Around

As music purchases switch to music streaming and subscription plans, rock music has to change its tactics. Once, this was a genre that could sell twice as many records or other physical copies. Today, with everything going digital, that power to sway purchasers hasn’t translated to the digital arena.

With so many options, more and more artists are finding small groups that will support their unique style. Mass appeal is no longer as necessary as it once was for an artist to succeed. Further, what qualifies as rock music is always up for debate. If a comeback is around the corner, it’s unlikely to be made up of “classic rock” type artists.


Why Can’t Rock Win at Streaming?

Turn to YouTube, and you can find a variety of 50s singers covering classic rock songs in new styles. Videos like this can have millions of views. Would that count toward rock music make a comeback? If nothing else, it helps to introduce the genre to new listeners in a unique way.

One of the main problems rock may have is the fact that many of its die-hard fans are slow to pick up the streaming technology or haven’t found a way to use it that supports their favourite artists. As we move into 2019, some rock music labels and promotional companies are attempting to change this while marketing platforms for new, indie bands are getting better all the time.


Could Higher Album Sales be Key?

In 2018, album sales were 23% higher than they had been the year before. However, streaming demand was 49% higher. Still, this small resurgence in whole-album popularity is a good sign for rock fans.

Besides, the number of records sold during national record store week, physical vinyl records, reached a high that beat the previous record by over 200,000. The original record was set in 2008. This is significant as the sale of physical vinyl is often used as a measure of the health of the music industry as a whole, even in the age of streaming. Further, 79% of vinyl records are sold by independent shops.

The top selling records? Nearly all rock. If nothing else, this is a subtle but strong indication that rock music is here to stay, though it may never dominate music streaming platforms.


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