If you’re passionate about music, you’ll know that talking about music genres and styles is one of the most controversial topics discussed in the industry. Not only is it impossible to clearly define the borders between two different genres, but also everyone has a different opinion on what a certain genre is.
Moreover, what is considered a legit music genre by somebody, could not even be contemplated as one by somebody else. And since there isn’t an organization that sets clear rules, it all comes down to personal opinions.
So, do you know what the Top 10 Genres in the Music Industry are?
Then, let’s find out…
How to decide on Most Influential Genres in the Music Industry
According to Spotify, there are more than 1300 music genres. And even if we consider many of them as subgenres and group them together, we would still be left with hundreds of different genres.
How can we pick the top 10?
In my opinion, the most significant ones are those that have or have had the greatest impact not only on the development of music but also on people’s lives.
We can all agree that blues had a more significant influence on our society than dubstep. Therefore I decided to include it in the list but not include dubstep.
Needless to say, this is just my take on the subject, and more than likely, many of you will feel that something is missing and something else shouldn’t have made it onto the list.
For every genre, I’ll include a recommendation of a book that will allow you to go deeper into the subject. They’re all books that have expanded my knowledge of that specific genre and have highly influenced me as a musician.
Let’s start with the genre without which modern music wouldn’t even exist as we know it…
Have you ever heard it said that all the music that we listen to is derived from blues?
While it is certainly true, we shouldn’t forget that we wouldn’t even have the blues without classical music; in fact, we would have NO music without classical music!
With classical music, we generally define anything that has been written and played from the middle ages through to the early 20th century.
So it’s all outdated?
No, this doesn’t mean that classical music is now dead. There are modern composers, and the vast majority of contemporary musicians are somehow influenced by classical music, either consciously or unconsciously. For example, listen closely to the song “Memories” by Maroon 5 and compare it with “Canon in D,” a classical composition by Pachelbel. Do you notice any similarities?
Reading suggestion: The Classical Music Book by Katie Derham
Rock ‘n Roll… into Rock!
Rock and roll is dead. How many times have you heard this?
The truth is that rock is still alive and keeps affecting every musician around the world.
Do you know what the first rock and roll song was?
Despite being a controversial topic, the majority of the most reputable musical critics agree that “Rocket 88” by Ike Turner has to be awarded this honor.
Rock ‘n roll was developed as a new genre in the 50s, and it was highly influenced by blues, rhythm and blues, and up-tempo jazz.
Why is Rock still very much alive?
It had a major impact on shaping our society as we know it today, so much so that the youth revolution in the 60s and the 70s wouldn’t have been possible without it. And the world would not be what it is today if that never taken place.
Reading suggestion: The History Of Rock by Mark Paytress
Everybody knows that blues originated in the south of the US in the late 19th century.
But precisely what is blues?
There isn’t a trickier question when we talk about music. Blues is sadness, joy, rebellion, love, hate, travel, ordinary life, and everything else, as long as it comes from the heart.
It has been the soundtrack of every cultural change that happened in the first half of the 20th century, and, as already mentioned, it is one of the music genres from which rock has developed. Every guitarist in the world will play some sort of blues sooner or later, regardless of whether they like the genre or not.
Reading suggestion: The Devil’s Music by Giles Oakley
Take every kind of music played in the South and the West of the US before 1890, put it into a blender, and you have the origin of country. There is nothing more traditional and representative of American culture than country music.
The best thing about country music?
The beauty of this particular genre lies in its simplicity. Even after 150 years, and despite the natural evolution of this style, all you need is an acoustic guitar and a good singer.
Country music can make you dance and cry simultaneously, and it will always be part of the American lifestyle.
Reading suggestion: Country Music: An Illustrated History by Dayton Duncan & Ken Burns
How can we summarize the whole jazz genre in just a few words? The legendary drummer Art Blakey once said, “Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life,” and I couldn’t agree more.
An interesting fact…
After being the most popular form of music for decades, jazz is nowadays regarded as a niche genre, somehow reserved for a small circle of sophisticated musicians. But jazz is a lot more, and the beauty of it is that it’s so versatile that there’s always something for everyone.
If you find classic jazz boring, I’d recommend listening to some up-tempo manouche and gypsy jazz. But beware: it can be highly addictive!
Reading suggestion: Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya by Nat Shapiro.
Next, on my rundown of the Top 10 Genres in the Music Industry, Reggae is possibly the most recognizable of them all. While the ones I have covered so far can often overlap, reggae has such a distinctive sound that even the less musical ear would never mistake it for anything else.
And even your grandmother knows who Bob Marley is…
Originating in Jamaica during the late 60s, reggae gained popularity when Bob Marley took its message of peace and transferred it to the rest of the world. No other form of music is so deeply associated with one single musician.
Reading suggestion: No Woman No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley by Rita Marley
The term Hip hop refers to a whole movement born in the 70s in New York, which has rapidly spread globally to become one of the most influential genres in modern music in just a few years.
Hip hop can be divided into many subgenres which continuously overlap each other. Today it’s almost impossible to define exactly what hip hop, rap, or trap are.
Reading suggestion: The Big Payback by Dan Charnas
For anybody in his 40s, the arrival of grunge was a pleasant shock. For many of us, it happened when we heard “Smell Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana for the first time. But grunge had already been changing the music scene since the mid-80s.
No other music genre has ever made such an immediate impact on the music scene and youth culture. Ten years have been enough for grunge to explode, change the world, and almost disappear.
What’s its legacy?
A distorted guitar, three chords, a lot of rage, and meaningful lyrics are all that you need to scream whatever you have to say.
Reading suggestion: Everybody Loves Our Town by Mark Yarm
Punk has a very similar history to grunge. It has been the soundtrack of a movement of rebellion, and it grew exponentially in just a few years and then faded as quickly as it came.
Many would argue that both punk and grunge are subgenres of rock. However, the enormous influence that they had on entire generations should be enough to consider them as separate genres, in my opinion.
Reading suggestion: Please Kill Me by Legs Mcneil & Gillian McCain
But music is not just about rebellion, rage, hate, and sadness.
And this is precisely why disco was born!
People just wanted something that would make them dance and forget about politics, war, civil rights, and protests. At least for one night every week, they just wanted to go out and have fun.
It started in New York and Philadelphia in the late 60s, and by the end of the 70s, disco clubs had already appeared in every city, forever changing our Saturday night habits.
Reading suggestion: Turn the Beat Around by Peter Shapiro
The Best Quality Speakers to Listen to Your Favorite Music?
Whatever genre you love, you’ll need good speakers to enjoy it, so check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Sonos Speakers, the Best Smart Speakers, the Best In-Wall Speakers, the Best Apple AirPlay Speakers, and the Best Bookshelf Speakers for your money in 2021.
Or perhaps you’re looking for the Best JBL Floor Standing Speakers, the Best High End Home Theater Speakers, the Best 7.1 Home Theater System, and the Best Ceiling Speakers For Dolby Atmos you can buy.
Back to today’s discussion…
Top 10 Genres in the Music Industry – Final Thoughts
Music has the power to change the way that we look at our society. It can influence our opinions about politics, it can start civil rights movements, or it can simply make us feel better and forget about our problems.
Any music genre is much more than just combining seven notes in different ways.
Today I have gone through the 10 musical genres that have changed the world and have influenced other musicians to do the same. Now it’s your turn, so take your music and make a difference!