Do You Know How Gen Z is Finding Your Music?

A recent study exploring the most commonly used music sources by listener demographic has reported that the majority of popular streaming services are being used by a new, upcoming generation more than any other age group. Your first thought might be, “Millennials,” but that buzzworthy group is actually becoming usurped by a new generation making waves in music consumption — Generation Z.

Wikipedia defines millennials, or Generation Y, as children born between the early 1980s and 2000s, a coveted demographic that’s been a common area of study over the past few years. Now that Generation Z, the millennial successor, is coming of age, however, it’s important for artists and their teams to start paying attention to these new kids on the block.

Although these “young millennials” are often lumped in with the elder generation (those currently aged between 18 and 34), today’s teenagers are very much their own breed. Born within the first decade of the Noughties, Gen Z was able to read by the time wireless internet was in full swing, allowing these now-older teens to grow up fully within the digital age without having to transition from CDs and cassette tapes to streaming services. For much of their lives, everything has been on demand and at their fingertips.

With access to a variety of different digital entry points for music consumption throughout nearly their entire lives, such as Apple Music, Youtube Red, Spotify, etc., it’s been quite a challenge for the music community to actually pinpoint where this new digital generation is actually first discovering today’s music — something a new report from Midia attempts to shed a little light on.

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{Editor’s Note: Below is a version of a post originally showcased on MusicAlly, a premier provider of digital music journalism and consultancy. For the full article, please click here.}

YouTube remains hugely popular for young people, but could Spotify really be overtaking it as their main music source?

That’s the claim in a new report, Gen Z: Meet the Young Millennials, published by Midia Research alongside an event held yesterday by British music-industry bodies the BPI and ERA.

The bodies commissioned the research to explore the music and digital-media habits of ‘young millennials’ — defined in this case as people aged up to 19.

The importance of YouTube is unsurprising, but the report offers some new stats on its scale among this age group in the UK.

It claims that YouTube (across all category types, not just music) has 94% monthly penetration among 16-19 year olds in the UK, as well as 87% for 12-15 year olds and 73% for 8-11 year olds.

Those are quite some numbers. Practically everyone in their late teens is using YouTube every month and the vast bulk of all young consumers are on it a lot.

Here comes the surprise: according to Midia, Spotify has now overtaken YouTube as the main music source for young millennials. While YouTube has a weekly penetration of 47% for 16-19-year-old consumers (compared to 26% for all ages), Spotify has a weekly penetration of 53% (18% for all ages).

(To stress, this was in response to a question about ‘what music apps’ 16-19 year-olds used – so it covered YouTube’s use for that particular form of entertainment.)

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With the BPI and other bodies intent on proving that YouTube’s popularity is impeding the growth of subscription streaming services as part of their ‘value gap’ lobbying, this conclusion may come as a shock, given that it seems to pull the rug from under those claims.

Spotify is, it would appear, not exactly struggling to net young users – in the UK at least. The report does not make it clear what percentage of young consumers are using the free version of Spotify as opposed to what percentage have a subscription – whether one that they pay for, or as part of a family plan. Those figures would tell a tale.

Still, what lingers is the realisation that presuming that the younger someone is, the more of a freeloader they’re likely to be, may be a foolish view. In fact, the report finds that 67% of young millennials think music is worth paying for regularly, compared to 56% for overall consumers.

More findings from the report: 12% of the 16-19 year-olds surveyed say they use Amazon Prime Music on a weekly basis, while 12% say they are using Apple Music that often – in both cases, over-indexing compared to 8% for all consumers.

SoundCloud, Deezer and – most eyebrow-raisingly of all – Tidal all have 6% weekly penetration among this age group, according to Midia’s figures.

Interestingly, 12% of 16-19 year-olds say they are using social app Musical.ly, which may seem low given the buzz around its youthful audience. However, the point is that its core demographic may be even more youthful – its heartland is more early teens and even younger.

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In this report via Midia Research, the use of music and digital media in persons aged from roughly eight to 19 years old was studied in terms of both their monthly and weekly penetration rates -- in other words, what percentage of a certain age range of people use various popular streaming services (Spotify, Youtube Music, Apple Music, Musical.ly, Soundcloud, and more) at least once per month and once per week, versus a control group including people of all ages.

It appears that, based on this study, Spotify’s weekly penetration rate for those aged 16-19 has slightly started to overtake that of Youtube’s by 6% as of December 2016. Next up are Musical.ly, Amazon Prime Music, and Apple Music, with 12% weekly penetration rates in ages 16-19 in comparison to the general public, which was a smaller number in every case.

No matter what streaming service is used (the study also included statistics from Deezer, Tidal, Soundcloud, and Dubsmash), it’s clear that Gen Z (at least in the UK) is over-indexing in their use of streaming services to discover music in comparison to all ages, therefore, the main takeaway here is it’s imperative that you music is represented platform-wide in order to reach the most extensive audience.

As we mentioned previously, over half of millennials use more than one streaming service to consume  new music, which is yet another reason to make sure your music is distributed to every possible platform. Due to the common month-to-month contracts that streaming services normally offer, brand loyalty is fluid, and these stats could change in an instant once the next big thing arrives and as long as exclusive premieres remain a thing.

Keeping track of each new and interesting streaming platform, as well as app updates within each that make you want to switch between services, is difficult, especially when you’re an independent artist who focuses more on staying creative and building their brand rather than keeping up with the music-business side of things. If you’re an artist or manager, make sure to pick a music distributor that’s right for you to stay on top of new advances in music-adoption tendencies and promotional tactics.


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