Footloose and ad-free – a new classic melody?

Digital Music Listening – by Dan Ness
Pleasure or pain? Attraction or avoidance? These are some tradeoffs consumers make as they choose how to use their tech devices and services, and music is a major part.

Consumers love music and have more listening options and platforms than ever. The evolution of digital music listening continues to transform the recording, advertising, and tech industries, and the changes aren’t over. At this point, the net effect is a larger than ever base of active music fans and listeners, and one that is engaged in discovering both the new and old. Many consumers are also being trained that advertising is something they can pay to avoid – whether for their music, TV, or news.

Music streaming services such as Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify have disrupted influence, control, and the flow of royalties and fees between listeners and artists. At the same time, the total audience had broadened beyond few passionate fans, and younger generations are discovering both classic and new artists. There’s new life in the long tail of older and obscure recorded music.tdmusic-stream-local-by-device-2016-12-01_13-08-02

Accessibility and ease of use has substantially increased the base of music listeners. This has beneficial long-term effects for both the music and tech industries, and perhaps less so for advertising.

Digital music listening is widespread – being a regular activity of three quarters (76%) of connected adults, whether through portable MP3 players, music services, players on Smartphones, PCs, or Tablets, or often across more than one of these.

Half of connected adults listen to music locally downloaded to their PC, Tablet, or Smartphone. A larger number – 57% – listen to music through a free or paid streaming service. Free service users outnumber those paying by 66%. More consumers are signing up for paid services as these services experiment with additional features and family plans. Avoiding advertisements is one reason listeners choose the paid plans. Use of Ad-Blocking software by listeners to streaming music services is 20% to 40% higher than average, with Smartphone ad blocking rates relatively stronger among listeners.tdmusic-adblocking-rates-2016-12-01_16-38-10

Listening levels varies by device type. Smartphones outnumber PCs and Tablets in the number of active listeners, and has also surpassed portable MP3 players, which are being actively used by 27% of Connected Adults. Al though music-listening apps are simple enough to add to Smartphones, many listeners still prefer a separate device that is tuned to one task – mobile music listening.

Digital music listening is skewed towards younger adults, while a few older adults cling to their turntables to play vinyl albums. Although Millennials (age 18-35) make up 39% of Connected Adults, they are nearly half (49%) of those listening to music on their connected devices, through streaming services, or using digital music players.tdmusic-music-listeners-by-age-group-2016-12-01_14-43-12

Apple’s iTunes and iPod market entry fifteen years ago is still paying dividends for Apple, with Apple notebook users being 22% more likely than average to be listening through a connected device or standalone player, and 30% more likely than average to be using a music service.

Otherwise, music listeners don’t favor one type of connected device over any other for their other non-musical entertainment activities. Fun is big across their collection of Smartphones, Tablets, and PCs. Instead, entertainment is important in all that they use. Music listeners are 32% more likely than average to be using the broadest number of entertainment activities.

Household technology spending is somewhat higher among music listeners. Annual spending for digital music listeners is 11% higher than among average connected adults. However, spending on digital content is much higher than average. Those who use music services spend 40% more than average consumers on digital content such as music and eBooks.tdmusic-tech-spending-2016-12-02_09-04-39

Looking ahead, we expect continued widespread music listening. Consumer habits change slower than their dances between services and platforms. Most future growth will come from within the current base as they spread their usage across their devices and move to paid plans. Less growth will come from first-time listeners. Also, we expect further market disruption for pure music services and advertisers. Social networks will likely seek ways to further leverage their many interconnected users and more deeply integrate music sharing into their services. The growing anti-advertisement sentiment may continue as consumers continue to see value in spending a few nickels to avoid what they see as disturbances to their musical reveries.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). Trend information is based on prior waves. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Resources

Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis.

The TUP 2016 Wearables, Hearables, Listening, and Speaking Chapter details music listening devices, services, and activities, wearables and other key analysis points. The TUP 2016 Consumer Electronics Chapter drills down into a comprehensive collection of devices and services in active use.

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