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Music Trends: Non-English Music Remains On The Rise

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Music Trends: Non-English Music On the Rise

According to Spotify and Luminate data, non-English-speaking music is on the rise. The findings point towards a decentralized future in music, one with more diversity in languages, genres, and measures of success.

Genres, languages, listening habits

The music industry is a highly dynamic, constantly evolving field. Not too long ago, we published an article about its current state, in which we mentioned a widely discussed trend: an increase in regional, non-English music.

Although the rise of music in local languages is not a new development, multiple sources and news outlets confirm they are becoming increasingly relevant. For instance, an end-year report by Luminate highlights that Spanish-language music saw an increase of 3,8% among US-based audiences, while English-language music dropped by the same amount. That said, English remains at the top, followed by Spanish, Hindi, Korean, and Japanese.

Spotify’s Loud and Clear report further confirms the increasing popularity of music in languages other than English. According to its data, in 2023, over half of the 66,000 artists who generated at least $10,000 on Spotify alone were from countries where English is not the first language. Spanish, German, Portuguese, French, and Korean were among the best-performing languages on the streaming platform. Songs written in Hindi, Indonesian, Punjabi, Tamil, and Greek witnessed significantly higher listening numbers.

In line with the findings, the report highlights another significant trend: the broadening of music tastes and an increasing interest in indie artists. According to the report, independent musicians generated nearly $4,5B in 2023. The number accounts for about half of the revenues made on the platform and represents a fourfold increase since 2017. On the other hand, listeners have been gravitating towards artists who blend genres, transcending the boundaries of traditional rules and standards.

Demonopolization — the next trend in music?

What can we conclude from such findings? It may be the next stage of a larger, much-needed de-monopolization process. This development is far from new — digital music production, the SoundCloud era, social media marketing, and the rise of non-Western genres are only a few aspects that played a crucial role in the process. Yet, the next stage seems to come with even more opportunities for independent artists from around the globe.

Diversification of languages

First, it seems that in the future, the English language may lose its monopoly-like position within music. As Spotify explains, artists who might have struggled to break through “are now finding their audiences, and the music industry today is a more diverse and accurate reflection of the world we live in.”

This does not mean that English songs will become irrelevant, as English remains the number one language in music and belongs to the most widely spoken ones in the world. Yet, in the future, English may not be needed for artists to gain international recognition.

This has, of course, already been the case. For example, French-speaking rappers are highly popular in both French-speaking countries and beyond, while music in Spanish and Korean is celebrated globally. However, such developments may open even more doors for independent artists creating music in languages currently underrepresented in international listening stats.

Less emphasis on charts as a determinant of success

Secondly, we may witness a significant shift in our broader understanding and perceptions of success in the music industry. Until now, 'being known' by the masses has commonly been viewed as a critical determinant of success, while charts have played a crucial role in assessing levels of achievement.

However, with music-making being more accessible than ever and new artists constantly emerging, other indicators may soon play a more important role. And the data confirms it: According to Spotify, of the 1,250+ artists who generated $1M+ from Spotify alone, over 1,000 did not have a single song that reached Spotify's Global Top 50 all year.

Charts will undoubtedly continue to matter, but a less chart-centric approach to success may open new doors for artists to access previously denied opportunities. Additionally, such developments may help artists feel better about their achievements regardless of their chart positions.

A further rise of non-Western genres

Lastly, we may see more genres from non-Western countries become increasingly popular. This has already been the case with afrobeats, amapiano, afro house, k-pop, and Japanese city pop. For instance, Spotify recently reported that afrobeats is one of the fastest-growing genres on its platform. Since 2017, it has grown by 550%, with new audiences emerging in Mexico and India.

The Luminate report further confirms such developments, stating that 63% of Gen Z and 65% of millennials “listen to new music to experience new cultures and perspectives.” Such findings suggest that the future of music seems even more diverse, multicultural, and possibly more decentralized.

Yet, it may take a while for an actual de-monopolization to occur, as major labels and artists continue to have a significant influence and better financial opportunities than smaller, independent ones. Either way, we remain excited to follow the developments and discover new music from across the globe.

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