The way we consume music has evolved a lot over the last half a decade. First came vinyl, then cassette tapes, then CDs, then downloads and then streaming. Whilst each new technological advancement has brought a new level of convenience, it’s also affected the value of music with less people paying to hear their favourite artists. Here’s a look into how millennials are consuming music compared to previous generations and what this might mean for the future.
Streaming is more popular amongst millennials than any other generation – 72% of Spotify users are millennials. Streaming platforms only give a small portion of their profits to the artists they feature and many allow the option of listening to free. That said, the number of paid subscribers to sites like Spotify is rising, thought to be over 40 million. Non-paying listeners are also having to sit through more ads – ads which are creating extra revenue to give to artists. Even Youtube recently announced that it wanted to increase it’s ads on music content. Streaming is still evolving, with sites using a person’s history to recommend new music, whilst algorithms have even made it possible for creative ideas such as music that can only be streamed when it’s raining.
Radio isn’t dead – millennials are simply moving to online radio stations. By 2019, there are thought to be 191.6 million internet radio users. Along with streaming recommendations, this is thought to be one of the main ways millennials are discovering new music. Pandora and Last.FM are some of the biggest internet radio sites.
In a study into where millennials are getting their music from, 14% said that they did it through downloads. iTunes has reported a heavy reduction in the amount of downloads, with Apple focusing more on its streaming platform Apple Music nowadays. That said, many people are still turning to file sharing – this look into the top torrent websites in 2018 shows that the likes of Pirate Bay are still going strong, although downloads on these sites could also include everything from movies to software. Streaming is clearly more convenient than downloading, but there are still those that prefer to own music libraries, even if it isn’t in physical form.
Millennials haven’t completely let go of physical mediums – in fact, 50% of vinyl customers are under 30. They’ve been credited with reviving vinyl, resulting in a number of new record shops appearing all over the world. Even stores like HMV have cashed in on the vinyl trend. CDs and Cassette tapes aren’t nearly as popular and are largely on the decline.
There’s still a love for live music too, although many millennials aren’t going solely for the music, but rather the physical experience. In a survey from Eventbrite, 49% of millennials said they’d been to a gig in the last year. For many artists, touring has become the main source of income as opposed to record sales in previous generations.