Most popular live music genres among concert goers in the United States
August 1st, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

Most popular live music genres among concert goers in the United States

Live music has an important space in the cultural landscape in the US, with three-tenths of Americans saying that concerts or live music events are among their favorite free-time activities (30%).

Recent data from a YouGov Surveys poll reveals the most popular music genres when it comes to concerts and live music, providing valuable insights for promoters and organizers to better understand the tastes of their audience.

Classic Rock takes the lead as the most beloved genre among live concert attendees in the US, with 26% of Americans saying they enjoy live music shows of this genre. It holds sizeable appeal across age groups, with 17% of the younger crowd (18-34) and a quarter of respondents (24%) aged 35-54 enjoying classic rock shows. Remarkably, those aged over 55 are twice as likely as the youngest age group to say they enjoy classic rock gigs (33%), and it tops the list as most popular genre for those aged 35-54 and 55 and over.

A fifth of Americans enjoy pop music shows (18%), making it the second most popular genre. The mass appeal of pop music shows is most evident among our younger segment, with a quarter of those aged 18-34 saying they enjoy attending (24%). However, it's worth noting that pop's appeal extends beyond to older audiences, with 20% of respondents aged 35-54 also indicating the same.

Country music strikes a chord with 17% of the live concert audience. It is slightly more popular among older audiences, of whom a fifth indicate their enjoyment of country music performances (20%), and indeed it is the second most popular genre among those aged 55+. But the popularity doesn’t taper too much among the younger groups (15%).

About one in seven Americans also enjoy hard rock shows (15%). Popularity of this genre peaks among the middle-age group (20%), with a sizeable following among members of the two other age groups too (14% of 18-34 and 13% of 55+).

R&B (14%) and alternative/indie music (13%) appear next on the overall list. It is the youngest age group that is most fascinated by R&B music (17%), whereas alternative/indie music attracts middle-aged Americans (20%) most strongly.

Roughly a tenth of Americans also enjoy live music concerts in jazz (12%), classical (11%), blues (11%), rap/hip-hop (11%) and heavy metal (10%) music respectively. Again, there can be significant variance by age group. Classical music appeals to the more mature audience a lot more than it does the youngest segment. Those aged 18-34 (17%) are more than three times as likely as the 55+ audience (5%) to enjoy rap or hip-hop shows. Heavy metal appeals to our middle group (14%) more than it does the other members.

Reggae (7%), techno/trance (5%) and EDM (5%) bring up the bottom of the list. Interestingly each of these three genres see a peak in popularity with the middle of our segments. This pattern is particularly stark in preferences for techno music, where those aged 35-54 (11%) are five times as likely as the oldest group (2%) and twice as likely as the 18-34-year-olds (5%) to enjoy attending.

Some noteworthy variances in tastes are evident based on gender as well. Women are six percentage points likelier than men to enjoy pop music shows (21% vs 15%) and they are markedly more fond of R&B shows too (16% vs 11%). On the other hand, men take a stronger liking to classic rock (29% vs 22%), hard rock (19% vs 11%), heavy metal (15% vs 5%) and EDM (7% vs 2%).

Noting these differences can help promoters, venues and makers of the various genres of music to plan better to better accommodate the needs of the audiences they are likely to play host to.

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Image Credit: Josh Sorenson on Pexels