Google’s Big Picture research group has released the Music Timeline, an interactive visualization that tracks the population of different music genres since 1950. The visualization traces the ebb and flow of popular music tastes, from jazz giving way to rock in the early 1960s to the rise of hip hop and electronic music in the last decade. Users can also track the prominence of individual artists over time, revealing insights such as the fact that Jay-Z’s two decades of popularity were interrupted by a slow period in the mid-2000s.
The data is heavily normalized, since much more music is published today than in earlier decades, but even with the adjustments it is easy to pick out trends. The data is based on how many Google Play music users have an artist or album in their music library.