How are global consumers finding new music?

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
January 04, 2022, 7:46 PM UTC

Traditional ways of discovering the latest music – hearing something on the radio, getting a recommendation from a friend or catching an earworm from a movie – remain important. But video games, commercials, and social media are crucial in capturing the attention of the world’s young consumers. 

Overall, among consumers in 17 markets in which YouGov conducted research, music apps such as Spotify are the most popular way to discover new tunes (36%) as more consumers migrate to streaming apps.  

Our data also shows that radio isn’t dead. A third of global consumers still find recent music on terrestrial or satellite radio (33%); however this group is more likely to be over 35 years old. 

Social media is also a powerful platform for artists, as 32% of consumers say that is where they find new music. Consumers 18-24 (50%) and 25-34 (43%) are especially likely to find artists they like on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.

Friends and family play an important role in new music discovery among consumers around the world (27%) and among all age groups, though particularly among the younger 18-24 demographic (35%). 

Movie and television soundtracks are also crucial for new music releases. Much like personal recommendations, roughly a quarter of consumers say they’ve added to their music catalogue thanks for films or shows, and again young adults 18-24 are overrepresented (34%). 

While commercials (13%), websites (13%) and video games (9%) appear lower on our list, it’s important to note that consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 are significantly more likely to find new music through these channels. 

One in five consumers worldwide between 18-24 has found music via a video game, which is a testament to the importance of soundtracks and scores in video games. As noted by YouGov in 2021, roughly a quarter of gamers in the United States discover new music through video games (24%). 

Looking at YouGov research across regions, interesting findings emerge. In the US, radio remains king (33%), ahead of music apps (25%) and personal recommendations from friends or family (25%). Similar results come out of Europe, where radio reigns supreme (40%), ahead of apps (33%) and recommendations (25%). 

In Asia, however, social media (45%) and music apps (45%) are the most popular avenues for finding fresh tunes. In Mexico, social media platforms and music apps also play an outsized role in new music discovery, just as they do in the United Arab Emirates.

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Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 511 and 2,628 for each market. All interviews were conducted online in November 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples.