Some numbers on the audience for music
The NCAA basketball finals, held last night, were watched by over 18 million people at their peak. That’s 6% of the U.S. population. In contrast, Pharrell’s “Happy,” currently the #1 single in the country, has sold about 3 million copies, or 1% of the U.S. population. (If single sales seem like a poor metric of listenership, the official video has 168 million views.) That’s months after its release, and a clear outlier. The #10 song on the chart this week, “Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon (which has been on the chart longer than “Happy”) has sold a million copies (0.33% of the U.S. population), while the #10 movie at the box office, Liam Neeson’s “Non-Stop,” has been seen by 10 and a half million people, or 3.5% of the population.
More broadly, two-thirds of the adults in the U.S. and Canada go to the movies at least once per year. Only half buy music in any form. When people do buy music, one-half to two-thirds of their purchases are catalog (old) music. Taken together, it seems fair to say that the audience for new music in America is somewhere between 16 and 25 percent of the population, versus 67% for new movies and around 95% for TV.