Global: How do consumers listen to music?

Cheryl Kar
November 29, 2021, 6:30 AM UTC

The music industry continues to evolve rapidly – from production stage to distribution. And as multiple options are now available to discover music, the latest data from YouGov Profiles, an audience intelligence tool, sheds light on how consumers in key markets – the US, Britain, Germany, Indonesia and Australia listen to music. 

Video hasn’t killed the radio star: car radio still top of the charts 

Data reveals that listening to music radio in a car is popular among a majority of consumers across four in five markets of our survey - and is the most common way to listen for most. In Australia, particularly, this method of music consumption is pervasive among three in five consumers (61%). Closely following are more than half of the consumers in Germany (58%), the US (54%) and Great Britain (56%). In contrast, this behaviour is less pronounced among adults in Indonesia – with under three in ten saying so (27%). It’s also worth noting that older consumers in Indonesia are likelier to listen to music radio in a car than their younger age cohorts (18-29: 20%; 30-44: 29%; 45+: 37%). 

Americans like listening to free online music 

However, there are stark differences across markets in how consumers choose different platforms to listen to music. In the US, for instance, consumers are more likely to stream free music online than via a paid service (35% vs. 33%). About three in ten US adults tell us they listen to music on CDs (29%), while internet radio and paid downloaded music (27% and 27% respectively) are also close contenders. More than a quarter of Americans also show a preference for music available on video streaming sites (26%).  

One in five Germans listen to music on portable radio 

Consumers in Germany are more likely to listen to music on video streaming sites than via CDs they own (39% vs. 34%). Internet radio is used by close to a quarter of consumers (24%) and a similar share say they listen to paid online music (23%). Consuming music on portable radios, which ranks low on the list among respondents in other markets, is still preferred by one on five adults (20%). One in seven Germans also tell us that they listen to radio music via a television set (14%). 

Brits listen to music via online platforms 

In Britain, a substantial proportion of consumers tell us they listen to music on CDs (36%). However, it’s worth noting that online platforms too are popular among British adults as listening to paid online music (32%), internet radio (26%) and free music streaming platforms (25%) rank high on the list for consumers. A notable proportion also consume music on video streaming sites (18%). 

Music CDs, followed by free online music – most popular in Australia 

Listening to music on CDs ranks high on the list among consumers in Australia (36%). The use of online music platforms is pervasive among Aussie adults as a similar share of this audience listen to free online music (35%), followed by those who have a paid subscription (33%) and those who tune into music streamed through internet radio (29%). More than a quarter say they listen to paid downloaded music (28%) or video streaming sites (28%). 

Adults in Indonesia prefer free online music 

There’s a strong preference for free music via online platforms among a considerable proportion of consumers in Indonesia (56%). Close to half of the consumers also tell us they either listen to music on video streaming sites (46%) or have downloaded music through file sharing sites (46%). About three in eight adults like to play music on the Internet radio (38%), followed by those who have subscribed to a paid online music service (34%).

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. YouGov Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about YouGov Profiles.