When consumers buy albums or song tracks, they overwhelmingly choose rock.

In fact, according to Music Business Worldwide, close to 30 percent of album and track consumption happens within the rock music genre. By comparison, pop takes in only 14.9 percent of consumption, and country music is responsible for only 11.2 percent of consumption.

If you are searching for popular music for your business, so you can play tunes consumers are at least somewhat familiar with, rock music could be an ideal choice. But rock music has a variety of different sub-genres, and you will need to do a little more digging before you make your final choice.

Defining Rock Music

Musicologists define rock music in fairly simple terms. For example, in an article about the origins of rock music published in The New Yorker, the author reports that rock music is designed to feel spontaneous, and it is created by three or four instruments and three or four chords. These are the sorts of tunes an amateur musician feels comfortable playing even if that person has little musical training.

Rock music that fits this description might be created by:

  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Doors
  • The Eagles
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Journey

But rock music is also undergoing a transformation. As experts interviewed by Billboard point out, rock purists might have very tight rules in mind that define the genre. Modern listeners are willing to bend those rules a bit, and they ask their radio stations to do the same. As a result, some rock stations play music that could be classified as pop, R&B, or soul. The lines are blurring.

In general, however, rock music could be considered simple, tuneful, and rhythmic. This is music that most people know at least something about. Whether they know the particular sound you are playing or not, they might easily understand that the music you are playing could be considered rock if it comes with drums, guitars, vocals, and a few basic chords.

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Is Rock Right for You?

Consumers expect to find a connection between the music you play and the products you sell. When that connection is clear, your products become more memorable to your consumers.

For example, in a study in the journal Psychology and Marketing, researchers played rock music or classical music while showing consumers a series of products. When rock music was playing and participants were interviewed a short time later, they were more likely to remember what researchers called "rock items" associated with rebellion and freedom. When classical music was playing, they were more likely to remember classic items.

There are all sorts of businesses that might benefit from an association with rebellion and freedom.

  • Motorcycle shops
  • Some types of bars
  • Fitness centers
  • Gun shops
  • Sporting goods stores

You can also tap into the vast library of rock music and select your tunes based on the average age of your customers. If you are dealing with a group of listeners from the baby-boomer era, they might appreciate music from the 1960s and 1970s. Listeners from Generation X might appreciate 1980s rock or 1990s grunge. Since rock covers such a wide swath of music that extends over a long period of time, you have plenty of musical options to choose from.

Must You Pay for Your Music?

Since many rock songs are older, it can be tempting to consider them part of the public domain. Songs that are within the public domain are free for anyone to use without payment. Unfortunately, there are very few songs that fall into this category. In fact, the songs that do fall within the public domain might not seem like rock songs at all. James Cordon pointed this out during his late-night show by creating remixes of songs that are clearly within the public domain, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."


Since most rock songs fall outside the public domain, that means you must form a relationship with the copyright holders of the songs you would like to play.

We can help. At Cloud Cover Music we have literally hundreds of rock songs available for you to play, and we have negotiated relationships with copyright holders, so you will be in compliance with the laws when you spin your tunes. We would love to show you how our system works. Just call us.

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