25 Million People Are Willing to Pay More for Better Sound Quality

Where Sound Quality Starts

According to new research presented at CES by MusicWatch, consumers are willing to pay more money for better sound quality.

The average consumer is clueless about sound quality, but maybe that’s a problem with marketing, not interest.  According to a just-released study by MusicWatch, an estimated 25 million U.S. consumers are willing to pay more money for higher sound quality.

Research has also shown that consumers believe music quality on mobile devices is simply ‘not good enough’.  This is surprising and potentially game-changing, as 67 percent of music streamers listen on their smartphones.

Sound Quality Study

Participants of the study who were using a free streaming service were asked what factors would get them to pay for a music subscription.  High-ranking factors included control, or the ability to select specific artists, albums and songs on-demand), and  sound quality, which was found to be just as important as wireless access in the car and artist exclusives.

In the study, MusicWatch asked music streamers to rank features of their ideal music-streaming service.  A ‘free listening option’ ranked first, which was expected.  But here’s where things got intersting: participants also valued sound ‘as good as the recording studio’ the same as a ‘wide variety of music’ and the ‘ability to connect in the car.’

Russ Crupnick, Managing Partner of MusicWatch, posed the question in ‘layman terms, instead of throwing words like ‘lossless,’ HD and 24-bit into the mix.  And instead of finding Baby Boomers exclusively responding, Crupnick noticed younger audiences also care about fidelity.  “Consumers who value sound quality and are willing to pay for a premium experience are younger, more affluent and much more engaged in music buying and listening, which makes them a perfect target group for the music industry and supporting tech companies.”

8 Responses

  1. HertzSoGood

    Hmmm, the chart data presented doesn’t seem to match the text of the article. In the chart, audio quality is far far down on the list, so, does it warrant the article headline? And it is not equal to “works in my car” or artists exclusives content.

    And, where does that “25 million” figure come from? Seems rather shaky to me. After all, do the existing data show that consumers are willing to spend more for better audio quality in downloads? I think not.
    Sad but true… although I’d be happy if I was proven wrong by consumer behavior.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    If 25 million people are willing to pay for better quality… then why are they not subscribing? Do we even have 25 million total subscribers in the US for on-demand music? Seems unlikely.

    And what is with the AM/FM radio subscriptions? If 11% equals 25 million, then 10% is probably around 23 million. I have a hard time believing 23 million Americans are willing to pay for subscriptions services to hear AM/FM radio stations that are freely available. In fact the only subscription service I know of that offers AM/FM radio stations in their App is Rhapsody. And I don’t know anyone who uses that feature.

    Reply
  3. Rick Shaw

    Are these the same people who like to listen to their music on ear buds? I’m beginning to lose track which is which with all the statistical information on DMN.

    Reply
  4. Colby

    DMN: Write articles as if You actually exist to insight & inform your readers!
    e.g., you meant to write “25 million U.S. MUSIC consumers”, eh? Misleading. Plus, you only had time to nab a screen grab featuring a chart with 11% highlighted in green. Again, misleading. Assuming you don’t know what flood-fill is or perhaps your graphic artist was on holiday, I believe you meant to include the 6% labeled “better than MP3” for a total of 17%. Now I’m half-assed backing into your figures, which is your job to explain, not mine. The U.S. population is 320M. With more than 50% of the pop being “non music consumers”… elderly, infants or those like yourself in a Cheeto coma, we finally arrive somewhere near your 25M figure. Which I still believe is flawed. Enlighten us please?

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    “25 Million People Are Willing to Pay More for Better Sound Quality”

    Then they would buy headphones. That’s by far the most cost-effective way of improving sound.

    You know, people who listen to PC speakers and think 24/96 files will improve anything are in for a huge surprise…

    Reply
  6. FarePlay

    Where’s the CES story on the demand for non-mobile / non-computer sound upgrades?

    Reply
  7. Tony Brooke

    I found more details. Slides from the presentation that MusicWatch did at CES describing two studies is here:
    http://www.musicwatchinc.com/blog/is-it-live-or-is-it-streaming/

    Here’s their blog post, with a bit more info:
    http://www.musicwatchinc.com/blog/many-u-s-music-streaming-consumers-willing-to-pay-more-for-better-sound-quality/

    One study is described as “Surveys of 7,700 U.S. consumers age 13 and older were completed in November 2015. Results were balanced and weighted and projected to the U.S. population.”

    There seems to have also been another study with 5,000 respondents.

    Reply
  8. Tony Brooke

    I found more details. Slides from the presentation that MusicWatch did at CES describing two studies is here:
    http://www.musicwatchinc.com/blog/is-it-live-or-is-it-streaming/

    Here’s their blog post, with a bit more info:
    http://www.musicwatchinc.com/blog/many-u-s-music-streaming-consumers-willing-to-pay-more-for-better-sound-quality/

    One study is described as “Surveys of 7,700 U.S. consumers age 13 and older were completed in November 2015. Results were balanced and weighted and projected to the U.S. population.”

    There seems to have also been another study with 5,000 respondents.

    Reply

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