The music industry is notoriously opaque, but one of the biggest surprises to come out of the 2017 U.S. presidential election was the amount of music that came out of it.
The Billboard Music Awards and Grammy Awards were both dominated by pop, country and rock.
There was even a big pop show.
But that’s not the only way to make music, according to a new study by the New York Times.
“There’s a real difference between making music and buying music,” says Mark Boulton, an associate professor of music education at the University of Connecticut and the author of The Music Industry: A Guide to the New and Emerging Business.
The Times surveyed more than 2,000 people from all over the world and found that the biggest reason people choose to listen to music is to get in on the new wave of pop, hip-hop and R&B.
The survey also found that a large percentage of the people who listen to the radio are also listening to music in their car or listening to podcasts.
“People who are buying music are people who like music, who want to be entertained,” says Boultons.
But there’s a lot of overlap.
“If you’re a music fan and you have a friend who is a hip-hopper and a pop-rapper, it’s probably easier to just spend some time together and hang out together and see how things work out,” says Justin Kroll, a professor of marketing at Cornell University.
It’s not just that hip-hoes and pop-stars are the best-selling artists these days.
“They’re the ones that are getting more people to pay attention to their music,” he says.
Boulons study also found people who make money by selling music have more friends and more social capital.
The more people you have in your social circle, the more likely you are to buy music, and the more people are likely to buy your music, the study found.
So why aren’t people buying music on the radio anymore?
“There are so many different types of media, and there’s so many types of songs, and we need to be able to find ways to make them all work together,” says Kroll.
And what’s more, it may not be possible to buy a song with the same quality on multiple platforms, he says, meaning that there is no way to “create the perfect song” in a streaming service.
Kroll suggests that people should create their own radio stations in their home.
“I’d love to see the next generation of music producers using their own platforms, and maybe even creating their own music catalog,” he said.
“It’s very likely that there are going to be many more opportunities to do that.”
The Times also found music companies that are focused on building relationships with listeners.
“The music industry needs to invest in these communities in a way that is not going to destroy them,” Boults says.
But in the meantime, he also cautions that this study shows the importance of listening to your favorite songs while you’re on the go.
“What we found is that when you have that kind of connection, when you’re actually enjoying music, you can get really good at listening to it,” he explains.
“And if you’re going to listen, you should be listening to something that’s really fun.”