It’s hard to deny the huge impact that hip-hop had in 2018.

From Childish Gambino’s pop-culture stir,  to Kanye West’s King Gizzard-esque output to hip-hop officially taking over as the most popular form of music, it seems that the genre is the unstoppable world musical force right now.

All this is why it’s surprising to hear that the world’s most popular genre has been plummeting when it comes to physical LP sales, dropping a staggering 20.8% in 2018 alone (figures courtesy of Billboard).

Kanye West had a banner year in 2018 in terms of creative output, but not so much in physical sales

The same went for 2017, where hip-hop LP sales bottomed out at 27.8%, despite a year dominating the charts with multiple #1’s.

It’s unequivocal proof of the enormous impact of music streaming, and it’s changing the way artists release records.

In 2018, hip-hop/ R&B accounted for an astounding 25.6% of album-equivalent audio consumption and 30% of all on-demand streams.

“Nobody does hard copies anymore-it’s all about streaming now,” says Quincy “QP” Acheampong, CEO of hip-hop titan A Boogie’s label imprint at Atlantic.

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“If Atlantic asked us if we wanted to make hard copies, that wouldn’t even have been an option. Digital is the way to go. We wouldn’t have wasted our time.”

Check out A Boogie, who has amassed a staggering 16 million views on this song alone

Boogie’s strategy seems to have paid off too, with streaming well and truly the main way people consume music.

Demand for streaming grew by 48% in 2018 in the US alone. Given that the rise of streaming came in tandem with a 17.7% drop in album sales, it seems that the demand for hip-hop is the inertia giving a new age of music consumption liftoff.

The numbers make sense, given the huge rise in streaming demand that has seen the face of the music industry continue to change and evolve.

In addition, for the first time ever, two hip-hop/ R&B nominees at the Grammy’s this year will be digitally exclusive records; Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy, and H.E.R’s self-titled (record?).

Check out the smooth beats of H.E.R.

It might cause some to lament that there is no way for artists to make a sustainable living without LP sales, but with the landscape changing and technology enabling artists to create music in their bedroom’s, it’s wildly exciting to think where things could be for young musos in another ten years.

And after all, some of the highest paid hip-hop artists haven’t even made a single record.