A Streaming Music Company’s Take on the State of Streaming

It’s a good time to be a music fan. Listeners have never had so much variety when it comes to playing and discovering the music they love. No matter if you’re sitting in front of a laptop or taking a stroll, everyone now has access to an endless, personalized playlist of music--thanks to streaming. Even artists who were once wary about the shift to streaming are reaping the benefits from having their music more accessible by fans. Did anyone catch the scene in Taylor Swift’s new music video of her raiding the bank vault of a faux music streaming service? Ya, you could say streaming is here to stay.

Undeniably, streaming has had a profound impact on the entire music ecosystem. Today’s music fans have different expectations because they (quite literally) never have had to endure a song they didn't like. Between the personalization of streaming music and the continuing surge in time spent with mobile apps, we can confidently say that streaming has gone mainstream. According to Edison Research’s highly-respected Infinite Dial report, the majority (53%) of Americans now stream audio every week.[1]

Streaming Music Is an Age-Agnostic Activity

Streaming music is not just popular among the sought-after Millennial and Generation Z cohorts--it’s also a regular habit for older generations, who currently make up streaming’s fastest growing population. Why? It’s those between the ages of 50-65-years-old that are spending the most time with mobile apps doing many things, among them listening to music. Interestingly, the 20 hours a week they spend with apps is a whole five hours more than they spend listening to AM/FM radio, a legacy media format that hit it’s “golden age” while they were growing up.[2] If this group’s shifting behaviors are any indication, we’re about to see the penetration of digital media continue down the road to saturation.
Overall, weekly time spent with smartphone apps (not including talking or texting) jumped to 16 hours, 16 minutes in Q1 2017 compared to 11 hours, 36 minutes a year earlier.[2] The numbers in the graph above reflect a significant shift in how we access the internet, of which smartphone apps now account for half of all time with digital media.

New Streaming Locations Increase Listening

Today, the fastest growing streaming locations are in America’s cars and homes. Most new car models make it easy to connect a phone to the car’s dashboard and audio system, either by USB or Bluetooth connections. As more of these new vehicles hit the road, we’re seeing that drivers are taking to the new technology at astounding rates. Even though broadcast radio may still be the most ubiquitous listening option in the car, data shows that drivers of the newest cars on the road are 40% less likely to listen to AM/FM radio than drivers of the oldest cars.[3] Instead, they turn to digital options like satellite and streaming.

The shift towards digital media in the car is further evidence that streaming audio has become an indispensable source of entertainment while driving. This also helps explain why the car is one of Pandora’s fastest growing listening platforms, with monthly unique visitors jumping 64% in the last year.[4]

But perhaps the most interesting connected technologies driving streaming are happening in the home. A fast-growing source of music streaming happens on the millions of smart TVs, over-the-top (OTT) media boxes like Roku and Apple TV, and whole-home audio systems like Sonos. Even the sexy new entrants to the home, smart speakers from Amazon and Google, are most often used to play music.

The market penetration of smart speakers may still be small, but sales are brisk. A recent study by Park Associates found that the adoption rate of smart speakers with integrated voice assistants grew 140% last year alone. Music is one of the leading activities on these devices and, among Pandora listeners, listening on smart speakers has grown by a whopping 282% year-over-year.

Recently, Pandora and Edison Research found that 67% of smart speaker users already own two or more devices in their home. But what’s even more surprising is 7 in 10 of them listen to more audio in the home after purchasing it; 65% say the same about music.[5]

Grab Them by the Ears

Happy listeners make for happy customers. And when it comes to all the personalization and the numerous ways to listen that streaming provides, we can bet that these listeners are generally pleased with their music experiences.

This also benefits advertisers looking to “grab” an audience with innovative audio advertising solutions. Overall, streaming is a superior ad platform thanks to effective targeting, a better user experience and a higher level of accountability--not to mention that reaching consumers through the passion point of music is a good place to be for brands.

Streaming also brings the power of audio storytelling together with the effectiveness of digital advertising so ads feel more relevant, less interruptive and more easily measured against the brand’s KPIs. Digital audio ads, like those served on Pandora, can even be targeted to listeners engaged in certain activities, such as commuting, working out or preparing for bed.

Are You Ready To Learn More?

Stay tuned for the upcoming launch of the second edition of Pandora’s Definitive Guide to Audio, coming in early October. Just like the first edition, this detailed white paper will provide you with everything a marketer needs to know about audio--from the current landscape to the latest trends, along with interviews with the experts that know it best.

And, good news! If you didn’t get a chance to check out the inaugural edition of the Definitive Guide to Audio, there’s still time. Click the image below to download your copy today, and walk away with valuable knowledge about audio advertising that can immediately be applied to your next campaign.

Sources: 1 Edison Research, The Infinite Dial, 2017 2 Nielsen, Total Audience Report, Q1 2017 3 Edison Research, Hacking the Commuter Code, April 2016 and Edison Research, Share of Ear, Q2 2017 4 Pandora Internal Metrics, July 2013-July 2017 5 Edison Research, National Smart Speaker Study, Spring 2017