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Posted on 19th january 2019 by the eric team

It’s true, there would be  no music industry if there were no listeners, but if you think listening is the only way you influence the musical climate then think again. You are a very important piece of the music business puzzle, for reasons that may just surprise you, drumroll please:


We Listen With Our Eyes 

Yes, YouTube is the most popular site amongst young people, outcompeting Facebook, Snapchat and even Instagram in the eyes of the teens of today. Indeed, our fondness for fondling Friday’s new music video releases with our eyes has resulted in some rather interesting numbers as musicfirst reported that 73% millennials use YouTube to access music and so do more than 50% of adults. And so it appears we really do listen with our eyes. Go on, tell me you didn’t watch the Despacito music video because the numbers say otherwise, my friend.

What this means for the industry: With this continuous interest in the visual aspect of music, the music marketing teams should take note - video killed the radio star. 


Gender Bias

Does your gender influence the music genre and type of artist you listen to? Well… kind of. 

Music Genre: investigated the association between gender and music genre and found that Pop Rock was a similarly favoured genre among both genders (with Folk and Jazz both being the least). It also showed that males favoured Electronic music and Hip-Hop and females preferred Pop music and Pop Rock.

And if we compare this to gender vs. artist…

Music Artist: A study conducted by The Echo Nest found that within any of the charts e.g., Top 20, Top 40, Top 100, 30% of the artists skew heavily towards male or female listeners, the remaining 70% are relatively neutral. For example, females preferred One Direction, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber. However, males wanted to hear Mobb Deep, Jimi Hendrix and Wu-Tang Clan. These results back up the previous study results. 

What this means for the industry: the industry (for example the streaming service) could improve the listing experience for the listener and so the popularity of their platform by replacing gender skewing artists with gender neutral artists. 

*Perhaps this should be take onboard specifically in relation to the lack of female artists in certain charts and playlists. Maybe the way forward is to add these female non-skewing artists into playlists. For all those in favour of gender equality, check out the 'Smirnoff Equalizer' app (a collaboration between Spotify & Smirnoff) which aims to balance out the gender difference in your playlist.


Longer Listening

Nielsen has reported that the average time spent listening to music per day is a little over 4.5 hours (let’s not do the maths on how much this is in a lifetime please). With this number in mind, if we look back over the years, we can see that the habit of listening to music for longer has grown exponentially with time - Forbes. So why is this so?

Lifestyle is the answer. Music is being incorporated into different areas of our lives in ways never done before. Yes, as you squat low in the gym to Ice Cube’s – ‘You Can Do It’ or cut the carrots to James Blunt’s – ‘You’re Beautiful’ the music artists are singing all the way to the bank. 

What this means for the industry: Longer listening means more money made for the music industry (and more trips to the hospital's hearing loss department).


Your State Of Mind

Your music listening habits can give an insight into your mental health. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience reported that individuals who intentionally listen to aggressive/sad music to release/ express negative emotions could act as a sign of deeper negative mental states. If the song brings out the negative feelings in someone as opposed to resolving them, then this could be a deeper sign of mental struggle. 

The music is not the cause of the negative feelings in this example is it the potential identifier of mental health issues in the example above. 

Secondly, in relation to my point made in ‘Longer Listening’, another study has shown a relationship between the length of time teens spent listening to music and the levels of teen depression. Conclusions were that teenagers who listened often to music were found to be eight times more likely to suffer from depression than those who didn't listen as often. Listening to music is believed to be a preferred activity for depressed individuals due to the passivity of the activity, the low effort needed to participate in the activity compared to the high level of comfort it gives the individual. When compared to those individuals who were frequent readers, the study found that they were ten times less likely to be depressed as the least frequent readers. 

What this means for the industry: I must stress that I am not saying listening to music is emphasis mental health problems, if anything I believe it reduces them,  or that it is a causing factor for mental health. But what can be gained from studies like the above it data on perhaps how music therapy could be used as a means of helping reduce mental health problems. 

With mental health issues rising, perhaps this shows in the data of the music industry, perhaps an increase in the streaming of sad/aggressive songs, longer listening may be a call for help and not solely to be taken as simply an increased  assimilation into modern day life.  Perhaps with this information and more collected like this, the music industry could help reduce mental health problems?

Written by The ERIC Team

Brought to you by Warner Music Group

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