Music Consumption: Millennials and Gen Z Disrupt the Industry

August 31, 2017

Music pervades American culture. It is difficult to go to a bar, the gym, a restaurant, a clothing store, or a party without hearing background instrumentals and a baseline rhythm reverberate.

Coloring events—weddings, funerals, reunions, proms, graduations—some tunes are evergreen and some are trendy; but the music itself has always been a common thread. Just as technology has changed dating, games, entertainment, and friendships, it has also changed our music consumption. We no longer have to scan static-y radio channels for a good song, artists, albums, and individual tracks are available to us through a simple search-and-play.

Nearly 7 in 10 US consumers say they listen to music every day.  Audio streaming services have become ubiquitous, with 8 in 10 American adults currently using at least one audio streaming service. Multiple audio streaming brands compete fiercely for these audiophiles, with brands like Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music all vying for the same ears in a saturated marketplace.

In our previous research report, There’s a Box for That, we uncovered millennials are more receptive to and are the primary users of, subscription services. We wanted to uncover fresh insights into the music streaming services landscape, and how the adoption of audio streaming differs among various audiences.

Unsurprisingly, considering that more than 9 in 10 younger Americans listen to music every single day -they are power-users of music streaming services.

Generational Music Consumption

Via “Facing the Music: The Takeover of Music Streaming Services

Social Media as a Medium for Music Consumption

As Spotify, Apple Music, Sound Cloud, and other services are encouraging users to link their social media accounts and follow friends’ playlists, music streaming services leans further toward a social media platform.

Music consumption is traditionally social—evoking images of friends dancing together, young adults leaning out of convertibles singing, couples slow-dancing to “their song”—and technology is simply solidifying this avenue by redirecting it online. Instead of burning mixtapes, you can create a shareable playlist to text to your high school crush; the days of skipping through one artist’s album in the tape deck are over, an auxiliary cord connected to your smartphone will allow you to access an entire library of artists, albums, and songs, as well as your friends’ favorite songs and custom playlists.

Music Consumption via Social Media

Via “Is Snapchat a Snapfad?

Through these music streaming services, with the connection to Facebook, users can follow friends and family, share songs and playlists, and find new or trending music. In the same way that Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook adjust their algorithms to show you information that will most interest you, so do many intelligent music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. Both of which are some of the most popular platforms among music consumers who stream.

Favorite Music Consumption Channels

Via “Facing the Music: The Takeover of Music Streaming Services

Interestingly, YouTube qualifies as a social media platform as well as a music streaming service. Perhaps we should be looking at other music services in a similar way.

Generation Z, Millennials Consume Music Through Streaming Subscriptions

Seven in ten Americans who listen to an audio streaming service only use the free versions. Just 30% of American music consumers who stream audio pay for at least one subscription, although many who do pay, pay for more than one.

Though only about 25% of Americans pay for at least one music streaming subscription. Generation Z and millennials are far more likely to pay for audio subscriptions; the most popular services are Apple Music and Spotify.

Favorite Paid Music Consumption Channels by Generation

Via “Facing the Music: The Takeover of Music Streaming Services

Because Apple is the preferred device brand for Millennials and Generation Z, and there is a propensity for Apple users to stay within the iOS ecosystem. In line with this, Generation Z is much more likely to subscribe to Apple Music than their older counterparts.

As we see the vast spending power of Generation Z and millennials come to a head through music consumption, we expect to see more industries turned to gold, platinum, and silver by the burgeoning tech wizards.

Want more information about marketing to Generation Z, marketing to millennials, or music streaming services? Download our free reports.