Turn on, tune in: radio still the dominant way that people discover new music

By , Aug 16 2012

Turn on, tune in: radio still the dominant way that people discover new music

A new report by Nielsen concludes that although some consider the format to be dying, radio is still the dominant way that people discover new music – in the United States, at least.

The Data for Music 360 report was collected via 3,000 online consumer surveys across the United States. The results, however, vary wildly when you hone in on the teenage market: although overall, 48% of people discover music most often through the radio (compared to 10% through friends/relatives and 7% through YouTube), amongst teenagers, YouTube is the most listened to source of music. Unsurprisingly (and probably fairly), digital music is seen as better value than physical CD, while music fans aged over 55 have cut back on spending money on music most as a result of the world’s varying economy problems – 41% claiming to have reduced their spending on music “to a large degree”.

What follows is the sample list of results from the survey provided by Nielsen’s website; readers eager to know more can contact Nielsen here to request more information.


Radio is still the dominant way people discover music

  • 48% discover music most often through the radio
  • 10% discover music most often through friends/relatives
  • 7% discover music most often through YouTube

More teens listen to music through YouTube than through any other source

  • 64% of teens listen to music through YouTube
  • 56% of teens listen to music on the radio
  • 53% of teens listen to music through iTunes
  • 50% of teens listen to music on CD

Positive recommendations from a friend are most likely to influence purchase decisions

  • 54% are more likely to make a purchase based off a positive recommendation from a friend
  • 25% are more likely to make a purchase based off a music blog/chat rooms
  • 12% are more likely to make a purchase based off an endorsement from a brand
  • 8% of all respondents share music on social networking sites, while 6% upload music.

Music player apps are most prevalent, followed by radio and music store apps

  • 54% have music player apps on their smartphones
  • 47% have radio apps on their smartphones
  • 26% have music store apps on their smartphones

Males purchase rock music most often, while females prefer top 40

  • 38% of males purchase rock most often
  • 15% of females (compared to 9% of males) purchase top 40 most often

Digital music is seen as a slightly better value than a physical CD

  • 63% of purchasers identified digital albums as a very or fairly good value
  • 61% identified digital tracks as a very or fairly good value
  • 55% identified physical CDs as a very or fairly good value

Younger consumers who do buy digital tracks, are more likely to purchase new music immediately after its release

  • 33% of teens purchased a digital track within one week of release
  • 21% of persons 18+ purchased a digital track within one week of release

36% of teens have bought a CD in the last year; 51% of teens have purchased some kind of music download

18-24 year olds are most likely to attend a music event (among those who attend any type of live event)

  • 7% attending once a week or more
  • 30% attending once a month

Although 18-24 year olds attend more live events, teens are more likely to purchase T-shirts and posters while there.

  • 54% (compared to 46% of 18-24 year olds) of teen attendees purchase concert tees
  • 14% (compared to 7% of 18-24 year olds) of teen attendees purchase concert posters

Listeners enjoy hearing movie soundtracks over music related TV shows or video games

  • 42% enjoy hearing music via music related TV show
  • 59% enjoy hearing music via movie soundtracks
  • 28% enjoy hearing music via music related video games

Older consumers have decreased their spending the most during the current economy

  • 41% of respondents 55+ reduced their spending to a large degree
  • 39% of respondents 45-54 reduced their spending to a large degree
  • Only 28% of respondents age 25-34 reduced their spending to a large degree
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