Two recent stories in the Wall Street Journal and Billboard on the decline of rap music’s overall market share have generated some concern in industry circles. “Last year, its market share through mid-September dipped to 29%. This year, it’s 28%,” writes Neil Shah in the WSJ story. That’s down from a peak of 30% in 2020. Never mind that the genre still commands a larger percentage than the next largest slice, rock, by eight percentage points. “My concern is that the magic is gone,” Spotify executive Carl Chery tells Billboard’s Insanul Ahmed, adding that there aren’t as many “hot prospects” as in years past, thanks to the atomizing effects of streaming and TikTok. To be sure, rap culture is afflicted by innumerable problems, like media outlets more interested in toxic headlines and misinformation than informing their readers, too many musicians murdered in their prime, and the continued marginalization of women, LGBTQ+, and non-binary performers. Given the latter set of issues, mainstream rap’s modest slippage in the pop Zeitgeist seems like a low priority.
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