Almost nobody cares what’s in the Top 10 any more.

The Top 10 hits in the US in 2022 accounted for fewer than 1 in every 200 streams. That’s from Luminate’s U.S. Year-End Music Report for 2022.

People still love music — there were 1.1 trillion streams in the US in 2022, up 12.2% from 2021. But it’s all long tail and “catalogue.”

The reason you’ve never heard of current pop stars isn’t just because you’re old and past it — though you are — but because the current pop crop aren’t actually popular people in mainstream culture.

They haven’t been for many years. By 2012, you could have a mainstream number one “hit” in the UK with less than 10,000 sales, which forty years ago would have had you topping the indie charts.

Mainstream pop used to be a serious cultural force, and now it just … isn’t.

This isn’t the old days, when music was expensive and difficult to come by. You don’t have to listen to the same thing as anyone else.

It’s the Great Cultural Fragmentation. All music is a cottage industry of folk music. Scented candles at a county fair in a human face, forever.

The moment we could get out of the box, we all ran screaming.

3 thoughts on “Almost nobody cares what’s in the Top 10 any more.

  1. What about streaming numbers, which I think are taken into account when formulating the charts these days? Fairly sure that was not the case in 2012. Does that change anything in your overall argument?

    It seems that while the chart topping artists enjoy millions of streams (for new hits and not just catalogue) nonetheless they still aren’t the cultural force of earlier decades. That raises a slightly different question about high volumes not translating into cultural force. Perhaps your explanation remains the same – high streaming artists compete with other (non music) products and services entirely and they are mostly losing.

    What do you think? Would be interested to hear your thoughts!

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