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Music 360: Americans Make Music Their Top Entertainment Choice

2 minute read | October 2014

In a fragmented media world where technology is reshaping consumer habits, music continues to be the soundtrack of our daily lives. According to Music 360 2014, Nielsen’s third annual in-depth study of the tastes, habits and preferences of U.S. music listeners, 93% of the country’s population listens to music, spending more than 25 hours each week tuning into their favorite tunes. 

For hundreds of millions of Americans, this means that music is their top form of entertainment. When surveyed about their activities in the past year, 75% of respondents said they actively chose to listen to music, even ahead of watching television at 73%.

One reason music permeates so much of our daily routines is because it’s woven into our lives during all times of the day. Nearly a quarter of all music listening happens when we’re behind the wheel; and listening at work or when doing chores at home both account for around 15% of our weekly time spent with music.

Radio is the top platform for music consumption, as 59% of music listeners use a combination of over-the-air AM/FM or online radio streams to tune into their favorite artists and bands each week. Other popular platforms include consumers’ own individual music libraries (48%), on demand streaming music services such as Spotify, YouTube or Vevo (41%), and curated streaming music services such as Pandora or iTunes Radio (36%). These new technologies also support music sales. For those digital music consumers listening online or through a mobile device, 18% have purchased a song while streaming it.

Smartphones are the third most popular device used to listen to music behind radios and computers, but their effect on music listening is growing. Smartphones allow consumers to access music on their terms and in the palm of their hands, and more than 7 in 10 Americans now own one. This growth affects music sales, too; 39% of smartphone owners purchased music on such a device in 2014, up from 34% a year ago.

This is the first in a series of articles on consumer music habits in the U.S. 

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