Spotify/TNS study measures Spotify Free listening compared to radio, targets brand advertisers

The result of a large-scale consumer survey commissioned by Spotify was released today, assessing how consumers in 10 European countries listen to terrestrial and online radio. Spotify commissioned global research company TNS to conduct the investigation, and is positioning it to marketers who use audio advertising, promoting the incremental value that Spotify can add to radio campaigns.

Three core questions served as the backbone of the study. First, how does Spotify’s free-listening service in Europe compare to radio? The point here was to see whether Spotify’s radio-like service extends reach to consumers beyond terrestrial radio. Second, how does Spotify’s reach compare to other streaming services? The study compares to iTunes Radio, SoundCloud, Google Play, and Deezer. Third, how does listening behavior compare to traditional radio? The focus here is time-of-day listening trends.

For most of the 10 countries (U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Norway, Turkey, Finland, and Denmark) the study lays out the unique, unduplicated reach of top radio stations, and compares that metric to Spotify’s unique audience, and the duplicated audience of listeners who tune in both to terrestrial and Spotify Free. For example, in the U.K., Spotify adds between 14% and 18% incremental extra reach to leading terrestrial stations:

spotify tns uk chart

Across the board, the study reveals that youth adoption of Spotify Free is stronger than older demos; in France, for example, 15% of the 18-34 group listens every week. Also in France, Spotify is the most actively listened-to radio outlet in a wider age group of 15-64.

There is a complementary aspect to the TNS study when it comes to dayparts. While radio is strongest in the morning, online listening tends to increase during the day and evening. The report’s conclusion is that both are needed for comprehensive marketing: “Spotify Free users listen throughout the day, and especially in the afternoon and evening, while radio listening overindexes in the morning. This makes Spotify an essential element for an always-on audio campaign,” according to the report’s conclusion.

The study represents a broad message to all observers of the streaming audio industry who think of Spotify mainly as a subscription service. While the subscription part of Spotify’s business is higher-margin, and impacts the recording industry, the larger portion of Spotify’s global audience uses the ad-supported freemium service, which competes primarily with radio.

The TNS study surveyed over 20,000 consumers, and at least 2,000 in each national market. It was conducted in May and June.

Brad Hill