UK teens trend toward YouTube, social music, and free listening

UK teens are heavy music consumers on digital and streaming platforms. BPI and the ERA commissioned a study from MIDiA Research about the music habits of Generation Z, which includes millennials up to age 19. The report noted trends about their musical platforms of choice as well as other online behaviors.

YouTube remains a critical player in the media lives of this age group. For ages 8-11, YouTube penetration is 73%. The corresponding rates are 87% for ages 12-15 and 94% for ages 16-19. Beginning around age 20, YouTube penetration rates start to fall off, and the age 25-34 group falls off notably at 60%. The report projected that the heavy use of YouTube among the current younger generations will stick as they get older because of how entrenched it is in their present-day media consumption.

Music videos are a large chunk of YouTube viewership for this demographic. It is the second most common type of video for all three under-15 age groups, trailing clips. The respondents answers showed music as a highly social activity. For the age 16-19 group, 85% said that music is an important part of their lives, compared with 77% across all ages. 74% of the 16-19 group said music was all about going out and having fun, although only 53% of all ages agreed with the statement. Also, 67% said that music was something they’d consider paying for in the 16-19 age group, whereas just 56% of overall consumers said so.

Despite willingness to pay, free listening options are still a central part of teen media consumption. MIDiA examined the rates of various free and paid music activities, and the 16-19 age groups are outpacing the average response rates for most of them. While 82% of ages 16-19 watch music videos on YouTube, it’s only 46% across all ages. Streaming music also has a large gap, with 25% for all ages but 71% for ages 16-19. The disparity is smaller for radio listening, 71% for 16-19 and 68% for all ages. The only area where the all ages rate outpaced the 16-19 age group was in purchasing CDs.

Finally, the MIDiA report looked at the weekly use of different music services, contrasting the rates for all respondents with that for ages 16-19. Spotify topped the list for the Gen Z age group at 53%, while only 18% of the all ages group did. Video service is almost solely a teen service, with 12% of age 16-19 using it and just 1% of the all ages respondents using it. The response rates reflected that free access isn’t the only driver of use, with long-time free service SoundCloud at 6% weekly use and paid-only Apple Music with 12% use.

Anna Washenko