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Where Stadium Concerts Are Concerned, It’s Now A Pop World

Wembley Stadium ((Ungry Young Man) / CC BY 2.0)
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2While in days of old stadium shows were dominated by rock stars like The Rolling Stones and The Who, these rock performers are beginning to percolate out, making way for the new titans of pop.


Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

Those of us who grew up with rock tend to remember the stadium concert as a bastion of the legendary rock performers like The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Black Sabbath among many others. While those bands and more from that era still manage to play stadiums (at least before they retire), that part of the concert business is now being dominated by a different genre of music. Would you believe that Pop is now #1 in the UK?

The BBC wanted to determine just who’s winning that particular music scene, so it looked back at every concert or event in Wembley Stadium’s history since 1980 and gave it a value as a “pop” or “rock” event. Shows with the same performers playing over multiple nights were counted separately. What they found was pretty surprising.

1980s     Rock 61%     Pop 39%

1990s     Rock 54%     Pop 46%

2000s    Rock 58%     Pop 42%

2010s     Rock 20%     Pop 80%

1Why the trend away from rock and towards pop? Much has to do with the exposure of the genres. It’s relatively easy to find Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran or Bruno Mars on both the radio and popular streaming playlists, but there are fewer rock bands that get the same type of exposure these days, with the possible exception of the Foo Fighters.

Rock has been relegated almost to a sub-genre these days, with a far older demographic who are able and willing to pay more for what they want to hear (hence the greater box office revenue generated), but the audience is smaller than it used to be. Pop, on the other hand, is much more dominant visibility-wise, which leads to more concert demand.

Interestingly Hip-Hop is the most popular music genre in the United States and accounts for 38% of all music streams, yet only 11% of the concert revenue. Except for Drake and Beyonce, the major hip-hop artists just don’t do the same amount of concert business as either the pop or rock acts, although they don’t seem to tour as much either.

That said, many concert promoters were worried if there would be a next generation of stadium-selling artists. It looks like those fears can be laid to rest, at least in the UK.

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