More buyers and more buying: MusicWatch Annual Music Study 2023

Consumer research company MusicWatch has released results of its annual music study for 2023. (It is HERE.) The results are derived from two separate surveys querying about 7,000 participants 13 and older. In it, we see an upward-looking report of more music consumers buying more music, more music subscribers getting their music that way, and more upward potential.

Most of the public report is a long list of detailed bullet points. A single graph illustrates the estimated population of U.S. music streamers, year-over-year from 2012 through 2023:

Ten-million new buyers entered that market in 2023. In this reckoning, “buyers” are people who purchase CDs, vinyl records, digital downloads, or music subscriptions. 

As the buying population increased, so did spending, by seven percent year-over-year. That goes for subscriptions too — MusicWatch counts 109-million subscribers. That number doesn’t include SiriusXM and Amazon Prime listeners (presumably because music is only a part of those much broader offerings). If those people are bundled in, the U.S. listener market is 136-million. 

MarketWatch talks about “more juice to squeeze” — that is the potential for additional subscriber growth. Since 7-10 million Millennials are already music subscribers, the new juice puts pressure on GenZ to shift from free services to paid services. It’s not all on the shoulders of youth, though, as MusicWatch also points to “converting the older, and more resistant, demographic.”

It’s not all about music: MusicWatch reports that 80 percent of streamers regularly listen to other audio categories. Comedy, current events, and podcasts soak up those listens.

What about radio? Her is MusicWatch’s assessment: “Music on broadcast radio, while not the powerhouse it once was, gained listeners in 2023 and continues to be the #1 in-car listening option.”

The MusicWatch Annual Music Study is compiled from two surveys; the core AMS study is conducted online among 4,000 respondents, weighted and projected to represent the US internet population aged 13 and older. Audiocensus is a separate study of 3,000 and is the longest running US survey of music and audio time spent listening.

Get the official MusicWatch release HERE.

Brad Hill