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Streaming services make music accessible to all

Almost all Australians are listening to music in the modern world.

Federal Government reports have revealed that 9 in 10 people will intentionally listen to tunes every week, while 57 per cent will attend live music events each year. That makes music the biggest art form in Australia by a wide margin, it is just the way that we are consuming it that is changing.

Streaming services like Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube mean that not only are physical products on the decline, but digital downloads that take up space on mobile devices as well.

These services now make up 11 per cent of what we are listening to, a figure which has rapidly risen since they hit the scene three years ago.

What we are listening to

While owned music like physical CDs and digital downloads may be on the decline (down to 12.6 per cent in 2017), radio is still king.

Live Australian radio makes up a whopping 65.3 per cent of what we are listening to, followed by owned music and then streaming. Following that is online music videos (3.3 per cent), podcasts (3.2 per cent) and TV music channels (2.1 per cent).

This is good news for the commercial networks, as Roy Morgan Research has shown that the Australian advertising market spend has risen to $15.25 billion from $14.15 billion in just 12 months.

With radio still dominant, this market is able to capture seven per cent of this spend.

The report also showed that we now spend more on leisure and entertainment ($137 billion) than non-grocery discretionary commodities ($105 billion), including our music.

Despite commercial radio's market dominance, it has had market share taken away from it by digital platforms. Listening is down from 73.5 per cent in 1998.

How does this change across age demographics?


Media Precinct took to the streets of Sydney to find out what people from different ages were listening to. The results are not as cut and dry as you might think.

A young man admitted to 'feeling old' because he still enjoy traditional radio. "Most of my radio listening is actually probably talking radio now," he said. "I am more interested in science articles and discussions and things like that, rather than actual news."

Another gentleman, a father in his 30s, admitted that he tried Spotify for the first time recently and had become hooked.

"I was like: 'Oh my God, what a revelation'. I felt very, very old," he laughed. "The young people in my office mocked me."

And an older woman said that radio was still king for her.

"I love listening to the radio, love it. I think it's really good entertainment and I think, whether it's 2GB or whether 106.5, you've got the variety and everything else. I still love it," she said.

What is old is new again

An interesting aspect of music listening has been the renaissance of vinyl.

vinyl records

It is funny to think that CDs—cutting edge in the 1990s—have now gone the way of the dinosaurs, and MP3 files are fast following them, as streaming services become more mainstream.

But vinyl records are making a huge comeback. One Melbourne music store said that vinyl now made up 90 per cent of their sales, up from 20 per cent a decade ago.

The sale of vinyl spiked 70 per cent from 2015 to 2016, with $15.1 million worth of records sold across Australia. That was the sixth consecutive year this medium had experienced a rise in sales.

One Sydney record store owner said he believed it was because people still loved the ritual of owning and playing an album, which streaming services can't provide. "People seem to still like a physical item. I mean the idea of digital, Spotify or whatever, it has its place," he said. "To a lesser extent, CDs, but certainly vinyl has been selling more and more.

"I think it's just the size and what have you, the sound, it's that ritual of putting a record on."

About the Media Precinct

The Media Precinct is a leading Australian owned media agency known for our research and insights led by Glenda Wynyard. If you are looking for a media agency that understands how people connect with media then email today.

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