Nielsen Music Study: Streaming Usage Up, Hispanics Dominate Live Attendance

Nikko Lamere
Festival goers attend Hard Summer at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif on July 30, 2016.

Radio still reigns when it comes to listening to music in America, but it continues to feel the squeeze from all forms of streaming media including the Spotifys, iHearts and YouTubes of the world, according to a report released this week by Nielsen. 

In its annual "Music 360" survey of over 3,500 consumers, Nielsen found that in terms of share, respondents preferred radio to deliver their music 27 percent of the time. Listeners also said their digital collections get 20 percent and physical collections around 10 percent. But the survey also found that streaming in all its various formats surpasses radio if you combine them: listeners pegged on-demand services (Spotify/Apple Music, etc.) at 12 percent, programmed audio (Pandora) at 11 percent, streaming video (YouTube) at 10 percent and streaming live radio (iHeartRadio, TuneIn) at 4 percent. All told, respondents said they were using streaming media to listen to music 37 percent of the time versus 27 percent for traditional radio and a combined 30 percent for their own music collections.

Another big number: 80 percent of music listeners surveyed said they used an online music service in the last year, which is up from 75 percent in the 2015 report. Unlike in previous years, the new report did not survey overall listenership of music in the U.S. Last year's survey found that 91 percent of Americans listen to music.

In terms of music spending share, teen respondents said they set aside about 9 percent of their funds for a paid music streaming service, 17 percent on digital tracks/albums and 21 percent on physical products like CDs, but the biggest chunk of their music allowance went to live concerts, with 24 percent. As for festivals -- Nielsen breaks that out from general concerts -- the figure is 12 percent, so adding that with the larger figure and teens spend 36 percent of their total music funds on live artists. If you add in DJ events (4 percent) and small live sessions (3 percent), then teens allocate 43 percent of their money on live experiences.

The Nielsen survey also shines a light on Hispanics, who spend far more money on music than any other segment of the population. Broken down, Hispanics spend the vast majority of their music money on live music, with 35 percent combined concerts/festivals. DJ events are widely popular as well, with a 17 percent share, and 8 percent for small sessions. Hispanics also spend roughly the same amount of their music money on buying music, 11 percent for both physical and digital formats, but only six percent of funds on a paid streaming service. Overall, Hispanics spend a whopping 90 percent more on music than the general population, Nielsen found, with music taking up approximately 16 percent of their overall entertainment spending compared to 6 percent for the general population.

As for the total population, people are unsurprisingly spending most of their scratch on live music events -- 44 percent combined concerts/festivals -- and 8 percent for DJs. (Among those who attend live music events, 59 percent of all respondents said they attended a live concert with one main headliner in the last 12 months, and 40 percent with a multi-headliner show. Thirty-three percent said they went to a festival and 30 percent said they went to a club event of some kind.) In terms of non-live spending, all of those surveyed said they spend a mere 6 percent of their music-related money on streaming services, 11 percent on physical copies of music and 10 percent on digital tracks/albums.

As they have in previous "360" surveys, Nielsen asked music fans about branding and sponsorships of live music and streaming. The data found that people who pay for a streaming service are twice as likely to view a music or media company favorable for sponsoring a playlist. A brand that sponsors a live-streamed concert also has a far greater chance of getting a seal of approval from Hispanics (126 percent), festival fans (115 percent) and even notoriously picky teens (43 percent). The survey also found that festival-sponsoring brands get higher favorability ratings if they do things like offer product giveaways or host an air-conditioned tent at events. Sponsoring a new or existing festival is also a good way to gain potential customers, Nielsen found.

And because it’s an election year, Nielsen also looked at entertainment spending along party lines. Democrats apparently outspend Republicans on live music, particularly with club events and small sessions. Dems also spend heavily on digital music and video on demand. Republicans actually spend heavily on cable TV, comedy performances and sporting events. Independents surveyed spend most of their overall entertainment dollars on video games, live music and, in a positive sign, paid streaming services.

Data for the 360 study was collected July 14 through Aug. 5 among 3,554 consumers, with dditional responses were sought for people aged 13-34 and for Hispanics. Data was weighted to the U.S. census population based on age, race, education and household size.