Teens Lead Canada's Music-Listening Trends Favoring Streaming & New Tech, Says Nielsen Report

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Still, traditional AM/FM radio continues to lead overall music listening in the country.

Canadian teens and millennials are leading music consumption across the country, according to Nielsen Music's fifth annual Canada Music 360 Report that was released last week.

According to the study, 97 percent of teens and 96 percent of millennials are listening to music in 2018, leading the 91 percent of all Canadians listening to music. Those younger age groups are also at the leading edge of "device-agnostic, mobile-heavy consumption behaviors," states the report.  

Among those younger listeners, 93 percent of teens and 91 percent of millennials are streaming music online, compared to 71 percent of all Canadian music listeners. Teens also listen to music on an average of 2.6 devices -- 68 percent of them listing smartphones as their first choice -- and millennials on 2.3 devices. Thirty-four percent of these surveyed teens and millennials currently pay for a streaming subscription.

The report also cites that 98 percent of teenage music streamers use playlists, compared to 96 percent of millennial and 84 percent of all Canadian music streamers. On a daily basis, 60 percent of teens and 49 percent of millennials are listening to playlists they personally created, 34 percent of teens and 31 percent of millennials are listening to playlists generated based on their listening habits, 30 percent of teens and 24 percent of millennials are listening to public playlists based on genre or mood, and 18 percent of both age groups are listening to playlists shared by friends and family. 

Teens are also outpacing other age groups in use of different streaming services, averaging 2.6 different services over the past 12 months, compared to 2.5 for millennial and 2.2 for all Canadian music listeners. 

Among the most popular teen gadgets are smartphones, which were used by 68 percent of teen listeners (compared to 39 percent average music listeners overall), tablets at 28 percent of teens (16 percent overall) and specialized headphones at 21 percent of teens (9 percent overall).

The report finds 34 percent of teens and 34 percent of millennials currently pay for streaming subscription, while 20 percent of teen respondents and 16 percent of millennials said they are "likely to start paying in the next six months." Still, radio continues to lead music discovery in the country, with 66 percent of all Canadian music listeners using the format to discover new music, while 43 percent discover via streaming services and 36 percent from friends or relatives. As well, terrestrial channels still trumps digital with 58 percent of music listeners getting their fix from "over-the-air" radio at least once in a typical week, including 70 percent of listeners aged 45-54. Meanwhile, digital radio lags behind with 7 percent of listeners tuning into satellite radio in a typical week and 6 percent streaming live broadcast radio from an app or website. 

"Part of that relatively low adoption may be due to wireless-carrier contracts," it states in the report. It notes "43 percent of Canadians said they would be interested in listening to AM/FM radio on a smartphone if it had no impact on their data plan."

As for where average Canadians spend most their time listening to music in a typical week, traditional AM/FM over-the-air radio still reigns with 33 percent claiming that as their dominant source. Meanwhile, 17 percent listen their digital music library, 15 percent stream music on-demand, 11 percent to physical music such as CDs and vinyl, 9 percent stream music videos, 4 percent stream live AM/FM broadcast, 4 percent listen to satellite radio and 6 percent claimed "other." 

Data for the study was collected March 29 to April 10 among 1,446 general population respondents ages 13+ and an additional 100 millennials (ages 18-34) and 100 teens (ages 13-17) "to bolster analyses," according to Nielsen. The survey was conducted online in both English and French using a third-party panel. From the quota, weights were applied based on the Canadian census population for age, gender and language preference (English or French) at home.

This study is similar to the one Nielsen commissioned in 2016. Last year's study only sampled 18+ and did not include francophones.