This Is How Actual Consumers Actually Discover Music…

This is all part of a massive consumer research initiative happening at EMI, with the latest pieces recently revealed at SXSW.  On the discovery front, the research shows that despite hundreds of digital discovery options and hundreds of millions invested in ‘disruptive’ startups, music discovery is mostly happening on traditional radio, traditional TV, and through word-of-mouth.

(sample size 16,000) 

33 Responses

  1. Nicola D'Agostino

    The numbers don’t add up. Also: what’s the source?

    • Adley

      There is nothing to add up. Consumers can have multiple discovery ‘points’, so to speak. (So it’s not supposed to be a 100%.)

  2. SammyFrank

    Have to disagree with the research. Just done a brief poll of 25 people in my office (all 25+) and asked how do you discover new music.:
    84% (so 21 people) stated catagorically they discovered new music through Spotify.

    The findings that YouTube/Spotify etc. have low or no impact on +25’s discovering music is rubbish (in the UK anyway).

    • B

      WOW, with such a broad and heterogenous sample base, who could argue with your very scientific findings?!

      • Visitor

        Well ‘discover’ could mean “look for” and it could mean “stumble across’. 98% of people discover new music by stumbling across it.

    • Humperdinker

      Very thorough research SammyFrank. I asked 1 person how they discovered music, and they said “Spotify”. Then I asked another person, and the response was the same.
      Obviously responses 3 – 6,000 would be exactly the same.

    • SpotifyFrank

      SammyFrank didn’t mention that he works in the offices of Spotify UK.

      • David

        ….or that there are 7,000 million people in the world and only 6 million of these have a Spotify account (about 0.1%) while almost 7,000 million have access to a radio

    • cliff Baldwin

      Perhaps you work at Spotify has a few million users in the U.S. Pandora has 65M. Terrestrial radio has over 250 million active. Smell coffee.

    • Wild Bill

      some people have to get out of NYC and the bubble they live in.

  3. Hm...

    The above statistics cannot convince me. I can’t believe that the people of the 21st cuntury (especially those aged <35) actually have got a FM radio at home and listen to it for 8 or 10 hours a day, instead of browsing the internet.

    • Me

      The study doesn’t say anything about time spent using these different resources, just how many people use them. Sure, a lot of these people may spend more time browsing the internet than listening to radio, but they most likely aren’t browsing the internet to discover new music. They just turn to the radio for that.

    • Visitor

      “I can’t believe that the people of the 21st cuntury (especially those aged <35) actually have got a FM radio at home"
      People listen in the car.

    • hippydog

      Quote Hm… “The above statistics cannot convince me. I can’t believe that the people of the 21st cuntury (especially those aged <35) actually have got a FM radio at home and listen to it for 8 or 10 hours a day"
      Who says its just at home?
      Besides the car (which is a huge slice of radio listeners)
      many people listen to the radio at work.
      Also many business's play the radio as its the only format that they dont have to pay for a rebroadcast license
      (if a restaurant plays 'satellite radio' or 'spotify' or 'a cd' over the speaker system they HAVE TO pay the PROS)

  4. RecklessOpinion

    The top line make a claim about 25+. Does this mean the 16,000 respondents were all over 25? If so, I kinda buy it. People still listen to the radio on their commute to/from work, though I’d think that a lot of those same people also have Pandora, etc. on all day at work, if permitted by The Man.

  5. Jeff Robinson

    Other research shows music discovery via traditional radio at close to 83% in influencing new music purchasing decisions.

    It is significant. Commercial radio’s exposure value can’t be ignored.

    Combined with the fact that only 55% of the U.S. (according to Akamai) has access to Broadband Internet and you can see why.

    • Jamel

      Good points. Considering access to broadband the numbers make sense.
      I’m still surprised word of mouth isn’t much higher. That’s how I discover most of the music I listen to.
      That pandora, and emaniomedia.


  6. redwards

    What the study or at least this article does not bring up is the corissponding data of how the discovery translates into sales. While discovery from radio is still high, people willing to translate that discovery into a legal download is low and willingness to do a ilegal download is high. Dicovery by word of mouth or on a T.V. show (I assume it is in Movie but should really be seperated) are the highest.
    The tipping point for radio will be when it becomes cheaper to use services like spotify, pandora or soundcloud in your car. Currently every car comes with a radio as part of the price but you have to pay either a subscription or figure out a technical hurdle.
    In a few more years that will change.

  7. Mike W

    This study is great for now. Anyone who does not think these numbers will change drastically in the short-term future has their blinders on. Clear Channel already sees it coming. That’s why they’re doing all these deals for balancing royalties between terrestial and online radio.

    • Visitor

      Actually, they are doing the deals because the cost to license songs for streaming is absurdly higher than the fees to broadcast terrestrially…

  8. Visitor

    My biggest problem with these kind of statistics is they do not fit for all markets.

    My early year in the business (late 80’s early 90’s) I was repeatdly told that our target demo was 12-24 for males and 13-19 for females. These were the consumers who were not just buying an album because they liked a song on the radio, these were the consumers that were die hard fans… who made acts like nirvana and smashing pumpkins a movement.
    The EMI research numbers are going to be heavily influenced by adult consumer; the ones still buying cds. Pop, pop country, alternative (alternative radio is now an adult market imo) The adult consumer may be buying more music than the youth today, but they will never become diehard fans, they have real lives. This is no way to move forward.

    … and I never want to hear another 50+ year old tell me how exciting a new start up service is that integrates with twitter and facebook… as if this is how we reach the youth.

    I may not have all the answers, but these numbers mean nothing to the actual alternative rock artists I deal with.

  9. Visitor

    Not sure why this should be surprising…
    But it’s great that people don’t use illegal sites for discovery!

  10. radio & records vet

    Regardless of the validity of the research methodology, the fact remains that broadcast radio (as opposed to streaming services of any kind) is still the dominant vehicle for music discovery. Everyone has an FM receiver in their car. Not everyone has internet capability or satellite in their car. The car, not the home or office, is the dominant listening space. Car+FM radio = verifiable statistics.

  11. fan

    The survey shows that online discovery is actually very high. You only need to add up Facebook, Spotify, artist website and browsing to get to 43%. So the #2 source for finding new music is online. You might even want to argue that part of the word of mouth is done online (chats, WhatsApp etc). So the % of online discovery is even closer to the 58% of traditional radio. Not bad…

  12. Saumon Sauvage

    This is a consumer focused survey. But, for us, the more important takeway is this (and I would if readers agree with this proposition and if not, why not?):
    The discovery venues from which rights holders (composers who retain rights, performers with rights in content, etc.) can make the most money through licensing and follow-on sales are:
    1) The three TV networks (pretty good money)
    2) The lesser TV networks (much less money)
    3) The major terrestrial radio networks (some money)
    4) The lesser terrestrial radio networks (very little money)
    5) Word of mouth (very very little money)
    6) All internet services combined (slim to no money, generally an artist expense)

  13. david@indigoboom

    Asking Consumers is way to simple for this rather complex question.
    For example if we assume that consumers discover music mostly from the radio, then who makes the desicions about what to play on the radio??.
    That would be the tastemakers/music journos etc. and they work on twitter amongst other things. Also various PR teams for artists and labels make these choices for the consumer, so in the end, where consumers think they “discover” new music is not really that important.

  14. R.P.

    I call BULLSHIT. Furthermore, I call for everyone who commented to do us a favor and video interview 10 people to ask them how they discover music. We all have smartphones right? It should be easy. Then, upload to youtube and post the link back here. I guarantee TERRESTRIAL RADIO will NOT BE the #1 way.
    Try it. It’s not like you know for SURE that this study was legit anyway. Or do you people still believe in Santa? -_-

    • david@indigoboom

      Two main avenues. my kids and friends posting on FB (so word of mouth i guess) and TV. Radio just plays old stuff so no discovery involved there.

    • Jeff Robinson

      Audio on a smartphone sounds like ass.

      I’m not gonna use headphones with my smartphone.

      Ear buds sound like ass.

      What happened to high fidelity audio systems?

      THOSE sold records.

  15. The Muze

    Just as a test case, how many of you have heard of a song called “707” by Nimrod Wildfire?

    • R.P.

      oh the inception ya bastid! 😉 lol. We have now, haven’t we?