The Country music industry gathered Sunday night in Austin, TX for the CMT Awards, which was broadcast live on CBS and showcased artists from icons like Shania Twain to up-and-comers like Jelly Roll. Jelly Roll took home three awards on the night, and with such a wide-range of artists in the spotlight, we wanted to take a look at how Country consumption has changed in recent years.
Recent Streaming Growth
During the advent of streaming in the US, the Country genre was relatively slow to adopt On-Demand Audio (ODA) streaming, relying on traditional channels like album sales for a much larger share of its consumption than other popular genres. Since the beginning of 2020, the genre has experienced strong growth year-over-year in streaming and just last month notched its single largest streaming week ever when Morgan Wallen released his new album, One Thing at a Time. The album release generated 482.65m ODA streams during the week ending 3/9/23, pushing the weekly genre total to 2.22B ODA streams (and, yes, that is more than 1 in every 5 Country ODA streams for Wallen’s album that week). Wallen’s One Thing at a Time has remained at #1 on the Billboard 200 since its release, and this week Luke Combs’ new album, Gettin’ Old, joins him in the Top 5 at #4 with 101k equivalents powered by 83.53m ODA streams.
Changing Consumer Behaviors
Interestingly, the Country genre holds distinct fanbases. Point in reference, consider these findings from Luminate Research’s upcoming 2023 U.S. Music 360 study as well as the flagship Artist & Genre Tracker:
Music audio streaming is the third most popular way of listening to music for the average Country music listener (after radio and video streaming), BUT it is the most popular option among Gen Z and Millennial Country music listeners (a continuing trend from 2022).
Luminate Research’s Artist & Genre Tracker shows that the average Country music fan spends 7% more time listening to music via the terrestrial radio than a typical US consumer. BUT, the average fan of Morgan Wallen, along with artists like Zack Bryan and Luke Combs, all count music streaming as their #1 source.
These fans also skew younger, composed of over 50% Gen Z and Millennials, unlike the broader Country music fandom.
This data shows two ends of the Country fan spectrum where the younger generations are powering artists to new streaming heights.
But What About Trends in Album Sales?
As noted above, Country ODA streaming has been on the rise since in recent years, but simultaneously, total Country album sales (physical and digital) have declined in each year, with the exception of 2021 when Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) combined to sell over 1m copies.
Looking at the splits in Country album sales since the beginning of 2019, vinyl LPs have significantly increased their share from 6.6% in 2019 to 27.2% in 2022 and are currently holding 28.1% so far in 2023. CDs, on the other hand, have dropped the most share as they decline from 63.9% in 2019 to 43% so far in 2023. In terms of volume, Country vinyl jumped 170% from 2019 to 2022 with sales numbers of 713k and 1.92m, respectively.
With streaming fans powering young artists like Morgan Wallen, Zack Bryan and Luke Combs, and vinyl becoming a bigger part of the genre’s sales story, more widespread change in Country music consumption could be on the horizon.
To learn more about Luminate Research’s forthcoming 2023 US Music 360 release, contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org