America's place as the dominant global purveyor of pop culture may be slipping as entertainment becomes fractured and local artists reach larger audiences. And while Hollywood has mostly weathered growth by foreign film industries (or partnered with them), the U.S. music industry has taken a hit. In an article for Foreign Policy, Joshua Keating highlights a recent analysis by University of Pennsylvania researchers who find that "foreign music" (usually American top 40 music) now only accounts for "just 30 percent of each country's pop hits, down from about 50 percent in the 1980s." They also found that when adjusting for GDP, Sweden and Britain top the United States in pop-music market share.
But the news may not be that distressing for the already-floundering American music industry. Keating notes:
Then again, the world's most popular artists, no matter where they're from, often perform rock, R&B, and hip-hop tunes that are unmistakably American in origin. Not many guitarists are trading in their Stratocasters for Swedish nyckelharpas. And there's still a clear advantage to singing in English. But Waldfogel and Ferreira's research shows that rather than an Americanized monoculture, smaller countries are becoming significant players in the world's musical marketplace.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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