How Americans Keep Up to Date with New Music

Think about the first time you heard your favorite songs. Maybe you were driving and you heard an opening guitar riff from Joe Walsh (or the distinctive vocal stylings of Katy Perry) from your FM radio. Maybe you were watching MTV and saw animation from a Dire Straits video. Or maybe someone texted you a link to Old Town Road and you streamed it. Regardless of what you consider a favorite song, or any song that you enjoy, there was a point in time when it was brand new to you.

With the overwhelming amount of audio content available today from a multitude of sources, just how important is it for people to discover new songs and keep up to date with music? The Infinite Dial® 2019 from Edison Research and Triton Digital shows that for 62% of online Americans, it is either somewhat or very important.

Almost the same number of those age 12-24 (26%) and those age 25-54 (24%) say that it is very important. So around one quarter of Americans age 12-54 say that keeping up to date with new music is very important. Those age 55+ are the least likely to feel compelled to keep up with today’s music scene, with 7% saying it is very important, but around one-third (34%) say that it is somewhat important. So the answer is yes, Americans feel that keeping up with music is an important endeavor.

Many of us associate memories of listening to our favorite songs with particular times in our lives, but we all had to learn about that music somehow. Once upon a time we depended almost exclusively on radio to introduce us to our next favorite songs, and tell us about the artists.

Now, Americans age 12+ are almost evenly split between the internet (46%) and the radio (47%) when it comes to the place they turn first to learn about new music. Eight percent say they go to television first. Here is where the age difference and use of technology becomes apparent.

Teens and the youngest adults look to the internet first. Seventy-two percent of Americans age 12-24 turn to the internet first to learn about new music, with only 24% saying they look to radio to introduce them to new music. Adults age 25-54 are split more evenly, with 47% turning to radio and 45% turning to the internet first. Over half of those age 55+ (54%) turn to radio first.

Taking that a step further, we take a look at the source used most often for new music discovery just among those Americans who think it is somewhat or very important to keep up to date with music.

YouTube as a source for music listening and new music discovery has been gaining over the past few years, but it still may come as a surprise that 23% of Americans who think it is somewhat or very important to keep up to date with music say that YouTube is the source they use most often to learn about new music. This places YouTube at the top of such a list, alongside Radio.

Radio has a prominent place among available sources of new music discovery, with 22% of Americans age 12+ who think it is somewhat or very important to keep up to date with music saying that Radio is the source they use most often to learn about new music.

Clearly teens and the youngest adults are driving the YouTube number, as 36% of them say YouTube is the source they use most often for new music discovery, with only 7% citing Radio.

Don’t doubt the power of a solid music recommendation from friends and family, though, since suggestions from them outrank many streaming services — 13% of Americans 12+ who think it is somewhat or very important to keep up to date with music say that suggestions from friends and family is the source they use most often to learn about new music. And to the friends and family of those aged 12-24: sorry, but American teens and young adults are more likely to use Spotify most often (19%) than go to you most often (14%) to learn about new music.

About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.