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Music Is Still the Soundtrack to Our Lives
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Music Is Still the Soundtrack to Our Lives

While technology and fragmentation are reshaping our media consumption, music remains an important part of our lives. Whether we’re in the car, at work, working out or surfing the web, we love listening to music. According to the Music 360 2015 report, Nielsen’s fourth annual study of U.S. music listeners, 91% of the national population listens to music, spending more than 24 hours each week tuning into their favorite tunes. While total listening figures are roughly the same as last year, how we access and engage with music is changing.

In looking at the report data, 75% of Americans listen to music online in a typical week, up nearly 12% from last year. And online listening trends are having a significant impact on our on-demand listening habits. While Americans streamed more than 164 billion on-demand tracks across audio and video platforms in 2014, they streamed 135 billion in the first half of 2015 alone – up more than 90% from the same period last year. And our music listening isn’t just becoming increasingly digital, it’s becoming more mobile. In fact, 44% of us report using our smartphones to listen to music in a typical week, a 7% increase over last year, while we’re listening on our desktop computers less.

Radio continues to be the No. 1 source of music discovery in the U.S., with 61% of respondents saying they find out about new music from AM/FM or satellite radio, a 7% increase over last year. Word of mouth is also important, particularly for teens: 65% say they discover new music through family and friends, well above the average of 45%.

Americans are also discovering more music at live events. Twelve percent of respondents say they discover music through live events, up more than 70% from last year. Americans are so engrossed in live events that we now spend more than one-half of our music related expenditures on them each year, and 50% of Americans say they’ve attended a live event in the last year. And what would the music year be without festivals? Eleven percent of Americans claim to have attended a music festival in the past 12 months, with Millennials comprising 44% of all festival goers. Most attendees choose festivals based on the lineup, and about two-thirds choose based on proximity to where they live and price of tickets.

When the festival is out of reach, either financially or by distance, savvy fans are nevertheless following along online, presenting brand sponsors with an opportunity to reach “virtual attendees” and extend their activations beyond the field!

For additional insights, download the lite version of the Nielsen Music 360 2015 report.