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US research confirms radio-to-streams shift amongst teens

By | Published on Wednesday 13 July 2016

Music Business Association

No surprises here really, but new research from US music retail trade group the Music Business Association confirms that the kids are streaming more and listening to the radio less. Indeed, on-demand streaming accounts for just over half of all listening time for teenage consumers, as opposed to about a quarter for consumers at large.

The new research was produced with LOOP and is based on a survey of just over 3000 Americans conducted back in May. For the surveyed group as a whole, AM/FM radio still accounts for about 35% of listening time, while for teenagers the stat is 12%, even though 65% reckon they do still hear the radio at some point during each week.

Elsewhere, researchers asked respondents about music discovery, finding that for the first time YouTube leads over radio in this domain, with 34% of all respondents citing the video platform as a key discovery channel, ahead of traditional broadcasters on 32%.

Needless to say, this trend was all the more marked for the teens, with 56% going with YouTube and 23% radio. Personal recommendations was actually the most important music discovery mechanic for the survey group at large, though for the teens personal recommendations and YouTube were picked as key channels by the same number of people.

YouTube’s dominance there might make you think that most of the on-demand streams the kids are listening to come from the video site with its low royalty payments to the industry. Though there was an appetite for premium streaming services amongst that demographic too, partly because the smart phone was their primary listening device, and you generally get more mobile functionality with paid-for services.

But a quarter of the teens surveyed who were using premium services admitted they didn’t pay for it, either because of a family package or mobile bundle, or because they were playing the free trial game, or because they simply used someone else’s account.

Commenting on the new research, Music Business Association President James Donio said: “The quicker the music business can adapt to new trends, the more successful it will be. By examining how young music consumers access the songs they love, we can begin to understand the market trends of the future and get a head start on optimising the system for the new generation”.