Viacom consumer insights study: “Streaming is the new normal”

listening with headphonesViacom’s music group, comprised of MTV, VH1, and CMT, released summary results of survey exploring how teenagers and adults up to age 40 consume music. A survey population of 1,200 participants submitted to the quantitative study, which also included qualititive secondary research and a mysterious “blography” component.

Streaming was revealed as a mainstream behavior in the survey responses, with 78% of the group having streamed music in the past three months. The 22-30 cohort was more active than both older and younger respondents — 63% of them stream music every day. (That’s a much more active-use metric than normally found in consumer studies. Viacom calls its subjects “music fans,” and perhaps the selection process skewed to more persistent listening than average.)

Radio is important to this group, which credited both broadcast and the Internet as sources of music discovery. The process is described as “passive” — music is so prevalent and accessible that music fans don’t need to seek as much as merely listen.

TV is also credited as a major discovery platform, with 88% of participants saying they look up songs played on TV shows while hearing them. That’s a behavior which speaks to the growing importance of track-identification apps, and the scorching competition among them.

The path from discovery to purchase (which in this study can mean several things, including “streaming it incessantly”) is interestingly charted. The role of streaming in that path is often a form of auditioning music before buying, according to 91% of participants, who use YouTube for that purpose.

Downloading music via P2P networks is not popular in this survey population; more than six out of 10 say that it’s both risky and wrong. However, it doesn’t seem to be the principle that dissuades them as much as the medium — sharing with friends via DropBox or other platforms is a practice for “many music fans.” The reason? For 81% of participants, that sort of sharing is intended to support bands they love.

Brad Hill