Rock and Roll is Dying

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Rock and Roll is Dying by Tim

Rock and Roll is dying and Electronic Dance Music and Hip-Hop music are killing it.

Rock and Roll had its glory days in the 60s and 70s and even 80’s but with the birth of techno and rap it gained new competitors. Rock and Roll will (for this article) be defined as “a genre of popular music originating in the 1950s; a blend of black rhythm-and-blues with country-and-western, usually including a guitar, bass, and drums, with a mellow tempo and accompanied with vocals. However since the 1950’s Rock and Roll has splintered into hundreds of genres, which has oddly weakened it as a whole.  Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton would all be classified as Rock and Roll but are not due to the massive amounts of subgenres. Psychedelic rock, metal, blues-rock have all grown out of Rock and Roll and now they even have subgenres of their own. Rock and Roll is dying because contemporary bands are adapting to a new genre that is not comparable and simply by the fact that rock is being out sold by Electronic Dance Music and Hip-Hop.

According to Billboard magazine out of the top one hundred best-selling albums of the 2000s, only six “Rock and Roll” albums made the list and one of them was a Beatles greatest hits collection. On the same chart there were thirty-seven Hip-Hop albums. On iTunes under the category of “Rock and Roll” none of the Top 10 albums were made in the 2000s. Furthermore, when one looks at the top 100 Rock and Roll albums on iTunes eighty-eight of them are either reissues or greatest hits of Rock and Roll artists from 1990 or earlier. When one looks at the ITunes sections for Electronic, Dance, and Rap/Hip-Hop every album in the Top 10 is from 2012 or 2013. This is important because it shows that Rock and Roll is on its last leg, and relies on its old hits whilst Electronic Dance Music and Hip-Hop are alive and are actively changing.

For the sake of this essay Rap and Hip-Hop will be considered the same because they are either “”spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics” (Merriam Dictionary). Hip-Hop came to be in the 1970s and is now arguably the most popular genre in America. As previously stated thirty-seven of the best-selling albums of the 2000s were Hip-Hop albums, the most by any genre. Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, is the best-selling artists of the 2000s selling forty-two million songs and forty-nine million albums in the United States alone. Billboard also reports that in 2010 “Hip-Hop” was “the only genre (within the last 5 years) that increased album sales” (Christman par. 4). This is in unusual because most genres have only seen increase in digital sales but Hip-Hop has increased in both.

Since the dawn of the digital age Hip-Hop has had to branch out into new media and there are dozens of sites that sell music/release/stream it for free (and legal) such as Tiny Mixtape and was launched in 2005 and to date has given away twenty million free mixtapes. According to Gary Trust of Billboard Magazine Thrift Shop by the Hip Hop artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis “set a record on that chart as the first song to reach two million streams in a single week since the chart’s inception” (par 5. This is huge because in the digital age as music adapts so does the way society judges how well a genre is doing. Record/album sales are declining but digital sales are going up along with the amount of music that is digitally purchased and that is the sign of a thriving genre as opposed to the shrinking sales of Rock and Roll.

Electronic Dance Music is just what it sounds like, electronically made music that people usually dance to. The term Electric Dance Music is a generic term, like Rock and Roll, that encompasses hundreds of subgenres. When Rock and Roll splintered into subgenres there were few things in common between the subgenres. Electronic Dance Music is different because all of the songs are made digitally on a computer. If someone hears an Electronic Dance Song, they will know it by its overall sound.

Electric Dance Music developed from the Techno movement of the late 1980-s in Europe and America and has seen a huge boom within the last ten years. The website Beatport was created in 2004 and is the iTunes of Electronic dance music. It boasts 1,100,000 tracks, from 230,000 albums, by 20,000 artist and 90,000 artist and remixers across 8,000 labels. World-wide there are sixty-nine musical festivals dedicated solely to Electric Dance Music. That is not including the heavy influence Electric Dance Music has on other dance festivals. At the 2011 Lollapalooza Festival Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune reported that “a small riot ensued when there was not enough room to accommodate all the fans wishing to see the Dubstep artist Skrillex” (21st Paragraph) . As far as records sales goes for Electric Dance Music it is hard to determine overall sales. Most artists do not release albums, let alone physical albums so they are counted by Billboard for record sales. It is even hard to find total sales when Beatport does not release statistics on its annual sales to the general public.

Lastly and probably the most important statistic regarding the rise of Electronic Dance Music is age. Forbes listed the Top 10 Highest paid DJs and on the list two of the top paid were in their forty’s but the average age was twenty-eight. On Forbe’s Richest musician list the average Rock Stars age was fifty-nine. Avicii, the youngest on the list is twenty-two while Paul McCartney is 70. Even more amazing is he has not released an album yet. He has only released singles and one of his singles “Levels” has gone platinum in ten countries! He started off with a laptop and spent five hundred dollars on the music software system “FL Studio” and is now one the richest DJs in the world at twenty-two. Electronic Dance Music is young and will grow in the years to come.

In conclusion Rock and Roll is dying. Its subgenres are doing fine, some are even thriving but as set genre it’s time is running out. Electronic Dance Music is huge in comparison to other music festivals and Hip-Hop is simply outselling every other genre. Rock and Roll is dying and Electronic Dance Music and Hip-Hop music are killing it.

Works Cited
Christman, Ed. “Eminem, Drake Lead Rap Sales Surge in 2010.” Billboard Magazine 13

Feb. 2013: n. pag. Web.

Greenburg, Zack. “The World’s Highest-Paid DJs 2012.” Forbes Magazine 8 Feb. 2012: n. pag. Web.

Greenburg, Zack. “The World’s Highest-Paid Musicians 2012.” Forbes Magazine 28 Nov. 2012: n. pag. Web.

Kot, Greg. “Lollapalooza Day 1: Hello, Brazil, and Coldplay Says ‘So Long’ to Amy Winehouse.” N.p., 6 Aug. 2011. Web. Trust, Gary. “Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ ‘Thrift Shop’ No. 1 On Hot 100 for Fourth Week.” Billboard Magazine 13 Feb. 2013: n. pag. Web.


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