A New Survey Shows That Gen Z Listeners Are Changing the Way People Choose Music Preferences

A new survey released by Dolby Laboratories, Inc. shows that Gen Z listeners are changing the way people are choosing their music preferences from genres, to quality, to era. 

Photo provided by Dolby Laboratories, Inc Press Release.

The survey was released on December 1, 2021 by Dolby Laboratories, Inc. which is a leader in immersive entertainment experiences. The survey found there was a shift in particularly Gen Z’s listening behaviors when it comes to music.  

The U.S. survey, which consisted of adults 18+ or older, focused on people who regularly listen to music. It  found that many people, in particular members of the Gen Z, have recently discovered iconic songs and artists from past decades for the first time while others are rediscovering songs from their past chasing after a sense of nostalgia. The survey also revealed that social media and Hollywood entertainment, unsurprisingly, are very strong influences over how people discover music. Audio quality has become a priority for many, particularly Gen Z, when choosing a streaming service to use over other features it might have.

This sense of nostalgia really comes through in some of the most interesting data points collected. Six in ten participants feel like they were born in the wrong era because of their taste in music, which was highest among Gen Z (nearly 80%). For most, the era that most closely matches their taste in music was the 2000s. Almost half have recently discovered a song released over a decade ago, which was highest among Gen Z respondents (nearly 70%). Almost half stated they had rediscovered an iconic song or album within the past two years, particularly Gen Z (over two-thirds). Most respondents, close to 70%, are embarrassed to share their music playlists with others, particularly their boss.

Social media and Hollywood entertainment also heavily influence the discovery of new music according to the survey. 57% said social media is the top way they discover music. While YouTube is the most popular platform for discovering music, according to 79% surveyed, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok significantly influence how people find new songs. Almost a fourth of people who recently discovered a song released over a decade ago attribute this discovery to a viral video on social media. Six in ten people have also discovered a new artist or song after watching a TV show or movie.

The survey also showed that people in the U.S. are spending more time and money on music. Over two-thirds spend more time listening to music each day than before the start of 2020, with over half listening to music four hours per day or more. 55% indicated that they spend more money on music purchases each month, such as streaming subscriptions, than at the start of 2020.

One of the last things the survey found was that many are prioritizing audio quality when enjoying music. Among those who pay for a music streaming plan, nearly 90% agreed that enhanced audio quality is a “must-have” feature of their subscription, of which more than half strongly agreed. Of this group, 82% have upgraded, changed subscriptions, or explicitly paid for a service because it offered better audio quality. Nearly two-thirds who pay for a music streaming subscription indicated that better sound quality was more important than other features such as ad-free listening, exclusive content, or the ability to add multiple users to their account. Over 70% surveyed are likely or very likely to purchase a new audio device within the next six months specifically to enhance their experience when listening to music. Nearly half of Gen Z surveyed who pay for a music streaming subscription want access to the latest cutting-edge audio technologies with their plan. 86% of Gen Z surveyed are likely to purchase a new audio device in the next six months to get better audio quality when enjoying music.

Other things worth noting that the survey discovered is that comparing various types of in-car entertainment, most see the biggest opportunity for enhancing the listening experience when enjoying music in the car (43%), followed by audiobooks and podcasts (23%). It also found that more than two-thirds stated they were very interested or somewhat interested in a new technology that lets them experience music more deeply when driving.

John Couling, Senior Vice President of Entertainment at Dolby Laboratories spoke on the survey saying, “Music fills our lives with moments of joy and has been a way to escape the challenges we have faced over the past two years. This has driven changes in consumer behavior, such as the revival of music from past decades to the prioritization of better-quality experiences that allow listeners to connect more deeply with their favorite artists and songs. As we look to the future, we expect these influences to have a lasting impact over how we enjoy music.”

Check out the Dolby Laboratories, Inc. website for more information.

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