Business

Consumer Habits And Coronavirus: 5 Takeaways From New Nielsen Music/MRC Data Study

As the country works through the trauma created by the coronavirus, Americans are showing pandemic fatigue and increasingly turning to music for cheer and self-improvement, according to the third installment of Nielsen Music/MRC Data’s survey series, "COVID-19: Tracking the Impact on the Entertainment Landscape." It makes sense: With businesses closed for a month and a half, unemployment skyrocketing and people tiring of self-isolation, music is an affordable escape.

As it conducts surveys at two-week intervals, MRC Data is tracking how entertainment consumption is shifting. Interviews are conducted the week of April 10 with a panel of 1,010 people, age 13 and over, that is representative of the U.S. population.

Here are five key findings the music business can take from the third survey in the series -- and incorporate into their business plans.

1. Start releasing some new music.

While some artists have postponed releasing new music until they can tour, the data suggests they should reconsider. Fans are embracing the new: 53% said they are listening to new music from artists they already know while 43% say they are listening to new music from artists they never heard from before. The latter percentage represents a four percentage point gain from the second release of the survey. Not that people aren’t seeking comfort in familiar songs; the survey also found that 84% of people are listening to music they usually turn to.

2. Consumer demand for entertainment subscriptions in general improved whether employed or unemployed.

In the survey’s third wave, the percentage of consumers that added a new entertainment service subscription is greater than those that cancelled theirs. While 23% of respondents said they have canceled a subscription streaming service in the previous two weeks -- and that’s up 17% in the week of March 23 -- the percentage of people surveyed who became first-time subscribers rose from 24% in the first two releases to 27% in the latest release. Of those adding new services, those working from home are more likely to do so, but a greater proportion of those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic added new services. Moreover, for those who added a service, 78% said they will likely continue it after the pandemic ends.

3. Music videos rule, so keep adding stock artwork to create more music videos and get more streams.

The music video format is the big winner during the pandemic, mainly due to the array of devices -- laptops, tablets, PCs, smart TVs and video-game consoles -- that people can use to watch them. In the sixth week of the economic downturn, music video streams are up 10% versus the baseline period of Feb. 21 to March 12. But audio streams have picked up momentum, too: Once down 9.4% compared with the baseline period, audio has improved to a 3.5% deficit by the sixth week.

4. Country, children and classical, too!

All music genres except for country, children and classical have experienced a downturn since the economic shutdown began — although other genres are reverting to baseline levels (the eight-week period of Jan. 17 to March 12). Children’s music was the early winner as families had more time at home. But the genre has been surpassed by the big winner of the pandemic, country music, a family-friendly genre that parents can play at home with the kids around.

5. Fans are eager for live music but have health concerns that need to be addressed.

Yes, people want to leave their homes and go to music venues, but they have health concerns that promoters and venues should address. In fact, the survey found that 61% of respondents want hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue; 51% would prefer outdoor events; 50% still want social distancing enforced, and if there are seats at the venue, 44% want it extended to seating as well; and 35% want attendees’ temperatures taken before they enter the venue.

Read Release 1 here.

Read Release 2 here.

Read Release 3 here.

Coronavirus