Gen-Z: The YouTube generation that can’t live without it

We know that YouTube is the world’s biggest music delivery platform. And we know that YouTube’s role in music discovery is equal to U.S. AM/FM radio. (Edison/TritonĀ Infinite Dial 2017.) We further know from Edison that YouTube usage skews young — in the 12-24 age group YouTube is the most important platform for music discovery, far more used than any other audio platform.

Now, a new survey from AdWeek measures youth attachment to YouTube in a more dramatic light: 50% of Gen-Z respondents (from a survey field of 1,500) said they “could not live without” YouTube. Nearly all respondents (95%) use YouTube to some extent.

Gen-Z is defined in this study with birth dates between 1996 and 2010 — so, ages 6-20. These are kids who have not yet finished college, and who have never known an analog, non-internet world.

The study is not about music or audio, and questions documented in the infographic below don’t mention Pandora, Spotify, or music discovery. But we can piece together a general sense of YouTube’s importance in audio delivery from a MIDiA Research report from last July (The State of the YouTube Music Economy). There, YouTube is represented as “the music platform of choice by Millennials and Gen-Z.” Key points:

  • 39% of consumers use YouTube for music every week.
  • Music accounts for 12% of all YouTube viewing time.

While broadcast radio, Spotify, Pandora, and podcasting occupy the most headline space in trade coverage of audio listening, it’s important to remember the enormous role of YouTube in the lives of young people who are just starting to emerge into the adult marketplace. Gen-Z’ers are basically unfamiliar with two artifacts of the past: analog transmission, and paying for daily media content.

Brad Hill