YouTube’s quiet domination

YouTube’s penetration into the music lives of Americans is a snapshot of stealthy domination captured by last week’s Infinite Dial release.

YouTube has become complicated, which obscures its story. YouTube Music, the subscription service launched in November, does not appear in Infinite Dial 2016, released last week by Edison Research and Triton Digital. That makes sense because YouTube Music is paired with Google Play Music — if you subscribe to one you get the other. Google Play Music is one of the music services surveyed by Infinite Dial.

YouTube’s open platform is in Infinite Dial as a key source used by American teens and adults for keeping up to date with music, along with Friends/Family, AM/FM, Pandora, and other resources that people use for music discovery. There, YouTube shows its might as a leading destination, with a reach nearly equal to AM/FM, as you can see in the following chart. YouTube far out-reaches Pandora and Spotify for “keeping up-to-date”:

infinite dial 2016 discovery sources

And when Edison applied a youth filter to the results (ages 12-24), YouTube soars above all others in popularity as a discovery resource:

infinite dial 2016 discovery sources 12-24

Note that this isn’t casual use; the responses were culled from survey subjects who said that keeping up-to-date with music was important. YouTube is a go-to platform fulfilling the role traditionally held by radio. Of the respondents who qualified for the above chart, 22% said that YouTube was the most-used discovery platform, vs. 9% for radio.

Startling Stats

To get a broader understanding of YouTube use for music listening, Edison surveyed whether the Infinite Dial subjects had ever used YouTube for music, and whether that use was in the last month, and/or in the last week. Here are the results, broken into age groups:

infinite dial 2016 youtube usage

The chart above presents one of the most startling datasets for anyone who isn’t paying much attention to YouTube in the music ecosystem. Consider YouTube’s reach compared to that of other audio brands:

  • 53% of the American population uses YouTube for music monthly. That makes it the top audio brand for monthly listening. Pandora is listed with 32% of the population each month. (AM/FM is not an “audio brand” in Infinite Dial, so radio isn’t factored into these comparisons.)
  • 43% of Americans use YouTube for music each week — much higher than the 25% attributed to Pandora by Infinite Dial. YouTube has almost the 50% weekly reach of “Online Radio” as defined by Infinite Dial — broadcast radio webcasts plus online music services. Think about that — YouTube is nipping at the heels of all the streaming radio stations and music services combined.
  • In the 12-24 group YouTube is at 71% of that young cohort for weekly use. And here’s another eye-opener: 73% of the 12-24 respondents said they used Online Radio weekly. You Tube is nearly the same.
  • YouTube captures an astounding 86% of the 12-24 bracket who have listened at any time. That is a higher percentage than the 82% of Americans who recognize the Pandora brand name. (Apples to oranges on this point, but still remarkable.)

As always with reach metrics, share can be shared — in other words, YouTube users might also listen to Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, AM/FM, and other sound silos. But time can’t be shared, and although TSL was not in the Infinite Dial results revealed last week, YouTube is certainly soaking up a lot of it.



Brad Hill

One Comment

  1. Your charts on my iPhone in this article are so pixelated they are almost impossible to read?

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