Jul 12, 2022 - Economy

The '90s is the most popular decade for music

Share of Americans who say they listen to music from a particular decade
Data: Luminate Music 360; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Music from the 1990s is more popular than music from any other decade right now — even current tunes, according to data that Luminate shared with Axios.

Why it matters: Savor this moment ... a rare point of cross-generational consensus. They may not agree on bangs or jeans styles, but Gen Xers, millennials and "zoomers" (Gen Z) all appear to love '90s music.

State of play: Americans born in the '90s and 2000s are listening to music from the decade they were born at higher rates than other generations listen to music from their birth decades — TikTok plays a role here.

  • And those born in the 1960s to 1980s have increased their music consumption over the past couple of years as the pandemic drove an increase in streaming, said Rob Jonas, Luminate's CEO.

Context: The 1990s was the last pre-digital music era before Napster came along and blew up the business model.

  • The industry is now living off the music made in the before times, as artists' back catalogs from the '90s and earlier are seeing massive paydays, as Axios has reported.
  • In the early months of 2022, audio streaming of current titles was down 3.5% year over year, according to Luminate. Meanwhile, streams of older catalogs (songs more than 18 months ago) are up 20% since last year.

Our thought bubble: As a Gen Xer, I can say with confidence that the '90s was the last great decade for music. We had huge hits from a range of artists from Nirvana to Notorious B.I.G. to Whitney Houston. Don't @ me.

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