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Video Games Are an Important Music Discovery Tool for Gen Z, New Survey Finds

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According to the new report from MRC Data, Gen Z is also a key factor in the recent uptick in vinyl sales.

Twenty-eight percent of Gen Z music listeners use video games to discover new music, making it just as popular as television among that demographic in terms of music discovery, according to the just-released U.S. Music 360 report by MRC Data survey, which was conducted July 12 to July 27, 2021. (MRC Data is owned by Billboard’s parent company.)

That’s good news for the gaming industry, which has been increasingly linking up with the music business over the past couple of years. Fortnite was something of a pioneer in that convergence, hosting much-hyped in-game performances from Travis Scott and Marshmello. In July, Roblox and Sony Music announced a strategic partnership to bring more Sony artists into the popular gaming platform, a development that came about seven months after Roblox hosted its first-ever live virtual concert with Sony artist Lil Nas X -- an event Roblox claims drew 36 million visits. Earlier this week, the gaming company announced an interactive event with Twenty One Pilots.

The video game statistic isn’t the only striking Gen Z data point in the report, which also backs up the growing interest in vinyl among the demo. Among Gen Z music listeners who responded to the MRC Data survey, 15% said they had purchased a vinyl record in the past 12 months, versus 11% of millennials. In fact, the survey notes that Gen Z consumers are more likely than the average music listener to have purchased vinyl records over the past year, a phenomenon that can be seen with recent strong vinyl sales numbers for such Gen Z-skewing artists as Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Halsey and Olivia Rodrigo.

Speaking of young music consumers and their buying habits: 16% of Gen Z and millennial music buyers who responded to the survey stated that "helping with the artist's chart position" was important in deciding which form of music to purchase. As Billboard’s recent cover story on BTS made clear, claims of chart manipulation by artists’ fans – many of which center around the K-pop group – have been circulating online for some time. The MRC Data number is a concrete demonstration of the ways in which many young music fans may view themselves as personally invested in the performance of their favorite artists on the music charts.

Elsewhere in the report, streaming remains the most popular music consumption tool among music listeners. Sixty-two percent of those who responded to the survey said they streamed music videos online on a monthly basis, while 61% said they used audio streaming services. Meanwhile, 51% of music listeners said they had discovered new artists through audio and video streaming platforms. Those streaming statistics coincided with a 3% drop in AM/FM radio consumption, with 59% of listeners stating they used the radio to listen to music.

Social platforms, particularly TikTok, remain a powerful music discovery tool, particularly among young people. In the new survey, 49% of Gen Z music listeners said they used those platforms to discover new music and artists, while 59% of total respondents reported they stream videos on short-clip video sites.

On the streaming front, the Music 360 report did point to a decline in interest in terms of live music. While 3 in 10 survey respondents said they had tuned in to a virtual concert or live-streamed performance in the past year, there was a 4% decline versus the 2020 survey in the number of respondents who said they planned to attend a virtual concert or live-streamed performance over the coming year. That’s likely a result of the return of in-person concerts, which began ramping up this summer after more than a year of the touring sector lying largely dormant. Indeed, among millennial music listeners who responded to the survey, 62% said they were excited to get back to live music events.

You can submit to download the sneak preview of the report here.