Is Progressive Music Dying? Google Trends weighs in.

11891138-Fish-fossil--Stock-Photo-dinosaurOne thing that people might not know about Thomas and me is that we’re both data nerds. I have a graduate degree in experimental psychology and Thomas is a data analyst who almost has a graduate degree in public policy.

Since we’ve both undertaken to start a prog website in 2016, an obvious consideration would be the question of whether prog is, in fact, a booming and lucrative area of interest for people. To explore one angle of this question, I decided to use Google Trends to explore the relative interest in progressive metal and progressive rock over time.

The results are kind of a drag. See for yourself.

The chart is scaled such that the point of highest interest is placed at 100. Then, the other data points are scaled relative to the peak of interest.

Prog Interest Over Time

This shows the last 12 years of Google web searches for the topic “Progressive Rock” (in all languages) and “Progressive Metal.” It’s scaled such that the highest point is set at 100, and number of web searches are measured relatively to the highest point.

As you can see, it seems that interest in Progressive Rock is 1/3 of what it was back in 2004. It’s been in steady decline since then.

You can also see that (contrary to my own expectations) Progressive Metal is far less popular than Progressive Rock, even with very popular bands such as Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation out there.

So it looks as though interest in prog was highest in the mid ’00s and has declined since then.

But what’s even more interesting to me is the distribution of prog fans around the world by year. You can see the trends across the world – who is searching for progressive rock the most? Once again, the dark blue areas represent relative interest as compared to other countries (not absolute interest).

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I took screenshots of interesting years. At the beginning, for some reason the United States and France are the most interested in “Progressive Rock,” but that expands considerably in 2009, when large swaths of Northern Europe are into prog as well as Turkey, Brazil, and Japan. For some reason, Russia experienced an upsurge of interest in 2011 as well as India, but by the present day (2015), there are no longer countries with a heavy interest in prog (this reflects a more even distribution across countries).

What can we take from this?

It may be that prog is not so popular these days compared to a decade ago. Additionally, the distribution of interest in prog seems to be concentrated in a few places: the U.S., Europe, and Japan, with an additional healthy showing in the BRIC countries (with the exception of China).

So what would have been the best time to start the Proglodytes blog? I’m guessing sometime around 2004.

Out of curiosity, I also looked up the relative popularity of hot dogs over the last 12 years. Let’s just say hot dogs are way more popular than progressive rock, and increasing in popularity. Therefore, based on the data, we have decided to re-brand our website to include not only news, reviews, and interviews of prog musicians, we will also feature hot dogs.

So do you think this is evidence that prog is a dying art form? Or do you think there are flaws in the a priori assumptions of my methodology? Let us know in the comments!

If you want to look at or play around with the data, you can find it at THIS LINK on Google Trends. Data analysis brought to you by Proglodytes – the hot dog prog blog.


  1. I listen prog rock on regular basis, years ago I was searching information from the Intenret but that is not necessary any more, I know all the places where to find information without searching.
    So, at least in my case I have almost stopped googling Prog Rock but I listen it more than ever (if possible)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment! It makes sense that you wouldn’t need to Google “prog rock” anymore because you already got into it. But would that mean younger people aren’t getting into it for the first time? It could be that just googling something isn’t the way people find out about music genres anymore – maybe they use Reddit or social media instead. I’m thinking that’s a big possibility.


  2. Considering how many new bands are coming out and the musicians are getting younger again if you read Prog Rock magazine, I think Google Trends has it all wrong. Absolutely ALL wrong because there are so many bands now emerging and taking Prog in to the 21st Century and it may have had a bit of a slag in the 80’s with the MTV generation but that’s behind us now and with the advent of technology and the internet Prog has been booming ever since. It’s because “pop” culture still has a foothold on mass media and we are bombarded with nonsense clap trap commercialism. Prog is very much Alive and well and the Old Guard blends with the New to make a solid rock formation and the castle walls aren’t crumbling any time soon!


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