As people spent more time at home last year, they turned to streaming services for entertainment and information. It wasn’t just video streaming that took center stage in people’s lives as they sought out entertainment and distraction; the COVID-19 pandemic also amplified forms of audio listening especially podcasts and music streaming.
In a new global study, we tracked the impact of the pandemic on consumer behaviors in 17 countries around the world.
examines the changes in how frequently people consumed media, including how our listening habits have shifted.
Among people in the United States and Great Britain, for example, there was an acceleration of active listening (music streaming and podcasting) and a decrease in passive listening (AM/FM and satellite radio) as people spent less time in their cars and more time in the comfort of their homes.
A look at some of the popular music streaming platforms around the world shows YouTube as a leader in the space – albeit mainly being known as a video streaming platform. In the US for example, roughly two in five Americans say they use YouTube to listen to music (44%), followed by a close race between Spotify (27%), Pandora (25%), and Amazon Prime Music (24%). There are notable differences by age too: younger Americans are significantly more likely to stream music using both YouTube and Spotify while older Americans tend to gravitate toward using YouTube and Pandora.
The differences in platform usage by age are likely tied to overall differences in music listening. Americans aged 18-34 prefer music streaming over CDs and downloaded music, making platforms like YouTube and Spotify a natural fit because they allow users to search for the specific song or album they want to listen to (a feature Pandora now offers albeit later than its competitors). Adults aged 50 and over, on the other hand, largely listen to radio in the car and their CD collection, making Pandora’s radio-based format a natural extension of their linear radio listening on their smart TV or smartphone and Amazon Music on their Alexa devices.
In Great Britain, Spotify is the top music streaming platform used among Brits under the age of 55. This is particularly apparent among Britons aged 18-34, who are more than twice as likely to listen to Spotify than any other music streaming service, even YouTube.
Spotify’s popularity tapers off slightly among people aged 35 and older, allowing for services such as Amazon Prime Music to enter the audio mix. This is especially notable among Britons aged 55 and over, who are just as likely to be streaming on Amazon Prime Music as they are to be using Spotify.
Audio streaming in France generally looks similar to listening in the United States but with some key differences by age. YouTube is the top online music service used by French adults and is twice as popular as the next leading music streaming service, Spotify. Young adults tend to use YouTube and Spotify at higher rates than other age groups but Deezer rivals Spotify in market share among French adults aged 35 and above.
When it comes to music streaming in India, YouTube’s vast global influence wins it the largest market share among urban adults. Amazon Prime Music and Google Play Music are also popular but see close competition from Gaana and JioSaavn, two Indian online music streaming platforms with extensive catalogs of regional Indian music. Spotify launched its services in India in 2019 and is one of the newer entrants to the Indian music streaming scene. Over the last year, however, roughly a quarter of urban Indian adults say they used the popular music streaming platform, especially younger adults.
:The data was collected using YouGov Profiles, an audience intelligence and targeting tool available in 55+ markets. The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in the United States, Great Britain, France and India. All interviews were conducted online between January 2020 and January 2021 and the results from the US, Great Britain, and France have been weighted to be nationally representative of each country. In India, the results are weighted to be representative of an urban-only sample.