Digital Devices Hit 'Inevitable' Milestone, Passing Analog in Listening Time for 2020

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Digital devices are now the dominant method of listening to music, and the coronavirus seems to be behind the latest growth wave.

For the first time since Edison Research began documenting audio consumption with its Share of Ear study in 2014, digital and on-demand platforms owned over half of consumers' time spent listening during the second quarter of 2020. Listeners accessed music through smartphones, computers, internet-connected TVs and smart speakers during 53% of their listening hours. The other 47% of listening came through more traditional means, such as AM/ FM receivers, SiriusXM devices, CD players, turntables and standard TV.

In the previous study, traditional devices still maintained the advantage, amassing 55% of the daily time spent listening.

Digital's rise past the 50% mark was "almost inevitable," said Edison director of research Laura Ivey in a statement, noting that coronavirus-related "disruptions may have just accelerated the process."

COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in March, thus the secondquarter surveys measured a change in American lifestyles and media consumption. Of particular note, a widespread shift from office commutes to work-from-home labor significantly reduced in-car listening for many workers.

Continued study is necessary, however, to determine if the digital surge is an anomaly.

"We will have to wait to see if the numbers revert more closely to what they were before the disruptions," said Ivey.

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