Popular music is music which has high appeal to a wide variety of listeners and is delivered to large audiences. This music is in contrast with art, folk and traditional music.

Some of the characteristics of popular music are its ability to become known to listeners from hearing it without the need for reading the sheet music. It has an appeal to diverse audiences, and it has a capitalist aspect because it is often made and performed to make money.

The popularity of music can be measured in sales, or the audience being of particular economic and social status. Both of these ways have their flaws and critics. Critics say that popular music is produced by mixed media and the audience consumes it passively. These audiences are unable to choose their favourite music type, which is in negation with the concept of popular music.

Overview of the Term ‘Popular Music’

The first usage of the name ‘popular music’ was recorded in the 1880s in the United States, in the Tin Pan Alley period. It is essential to differentiate the term ‘popular music’ from the term ‘pop music’. While pop music is a genre within popular music, popular music itself is a term for an abundance of styles which are enjoyed by all kinds of audiences.

Features of Popular Music

Popular music is recognisable by its melodies which are easy to remember and sing, repeating sections and chorus through the song, with a bridge for contrast and transition.

Digitalisation in the last few decades means it has become so much more accessible for the songs to travel throughout the world in the form of digital files and therefore, gain in popularity. This way, more types of music have become popular around the globe, with mixes of folk or classical music in it, creating hybrid music styles. New popular music is being created to show the ideas of a global culture.