YouTube Says Just 2.5% Of Its Traffic Is Music-Related


That’s according to YouTube’s own numbers, specifically from the head of International Music Partnerships.

The numbers seem shockingly low, especially given that top-ranked music videos now have billions of views.  Separate research has also estimated that music accounts for more than 40 percent of YouTube’s broader traffic, with industry estimates surpassing 50 percent.

Maybe not.  This is what Christophe Muller, Head of YouTube International Music Partnerships, stated to Digital Music News on Thursday:

“The final claim that the industry makes is that music is core to YouTube’s popularity. Despite the billions of views music generates, the average YouTube user spends just one hour watching music on YouTube a month. Compare that to the 55 hours a month the average Spotify subscriber consumes.”

That is part of a far broader response to mounting industry complaints over compensation to rights owners (or lack thereof), and is now posted in full on the company’s blog.

But, just one hour a month?  Is that possible?

The ‘one hour a month’ statistic sounded like an error, so Digital Music News followed up with Lisa Bellamore, Head of Music PR at YouTube, who initially forwarded us Muller’s statement.  We asked Bellamore how much time the average YouTube user spends watching videos overall (not just music).  Bellamore at first avoided the question, then answered that YouTube didn’t have that statistic (but did have the more specific, music-related one).

When pressed further, Bellamore then offered a mobile-specific viewing figure only.  “The only stat I have within the realm of what you are asking is a daily stat specific to mobile usage only: On mobile the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes daily,” Bellamore offered.

After being pressed further, Bellamore did not respond offer any additional information (she got back to us shortly after this piece was published).

But, there’s another stat here: according to YouTube’s official ‘Statistics’ page, we learned that mobile accounts for ‘more than half’ of overall viewing.  Without any more data, we can roughly estimate that the overall, average view session across all devices (laptop, tablet, mobile, Smart TV) is 80 minutes per session. That may be greater, or less, though it comprises a rough, working estimate.

Which leads to this back-of-the-envelope result: 80 minutes daily  x  30 days = 2,400 minutes  =  40 hours monthly.

Of which, just one hour is music-related:

1/40 = 2.5% in a typical month.

Any questions?

16 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    “The numbers seem shockingly low, especially given that top-ranked music videos now have billions of views. Separate research has also estimated that music accounts for more than 40 percent of YouTube’s broader traffic, with industry estimates surpassing 50 percent.”

    The Google dudes are the biggest thieves in the music industry, and you’re shocked they’re also liars?

    • Remi Swierczek

      YouTube is a NEODYMIUM MAGNET OF MUSIC surrounded by advvvvertising CUUcoo!
      Chips, soda and pizza adds converting MUSIC to USA teenage FAAT!

      Thank you Susan Wojcicki and Mr. Knycl!

      • Remi Swierczek

        I apologize, Robert KYNCL, the master of MUSIC and other MEDIA
        MEET grinder converting millions in media to cents in ads.

        STILL struggling with server and electricity expenses!!!

        Larry, be a man CUT OFF THE NERDS from tech WELFARE!!!!!

        BE FAIR TO GOOGLE, ALPHABET & yourself!

  2. Reality check

    When tourists visit Louvre, they spend very little time on Mona Lisa.

    But guess what happens to the museum if they sell her…

    Music may only account for 40% of YouTube’s traffic, but it accounts for at least 90% of YouTube’s brand value.

    Music is YouTube’s Mona Lisa — take it away, and YouTube is dead.

    That’s why Google is freaking out big time now.

  3. GGG

    So they know exactly how often people watch music specifically but don’t know total times? Pretty obvious bullshit. Which means they are clearly fudging those numbers somehow…

    But also, not to take their side, but I think it’s easy to underestimate just how many videos are on YouTube. Add up all the videos that have 150K (a not hard to get number anymore, relatively speaking), or even add up all the videos with 500 views. There’s millions upon millions. Or look at how many views all those gaming videos get. Gaming on YT has 77M subscribers, Music isn’t that much higher at 93M.

    Still think 2.5% seems ridiculously low but can’t underestimate how many people watch a lot of dumb 30 second videos of puppies and babies. It adds up.

    • Anonymous

      Google makes 97% of their billions in revenue by selling advertising.


      And they can’t sell advertising on all those videos with 500 plays.

  4. Troglite

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics. If the source isn’t trustworthy or audit-able, their just numbers.

  5. DavidB

    ‘the average YouTube user spends just one hour watching music on YouTube a month. Compare that to the 55 hours a month the average Spotify subscriber consumes’

    There’s a book (I forget the author) called ‘How to Tell Lies With Statistics’. If they need any examples for a new edition….

  6. Fred

    I believe it. I hardly ever watch YouTube videos for music. The vast majority of videos I watch are cooking videos and bushcraft stuff.

  7. Buckley

    That number seems pretty farfetched, but then again I’m sure music isn’t the majority of YouTube’s traffic either.
    Of the top 100 most viewed channels, I counted 37 that are obviously music, and I may have missed a few. However, that only accounts for 100 channels. It doesn’t include the thousands (tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions) of active channels that pump out some sort of content on a semi-regular basis. All those little video game channels, the vloggers, the makeup tutorials, all the other genres and subgenres, they all add up. But it’s clear from Socialblade that there’s a LOT of traffic going to music-related channels, and it’s a lot more than “2.5%”.

  8. Anonymous

    If they’re making absurd claims like this, some kind of sh*tstorm must be in the pipeline… (Grabs popcorn)

  9. Anri

    What has been often overlooked is that general music demand, although not directly for buying, hasn’t shrunk compared to 90ties as much as some of the analysts make us believe. Music is still HUGE draw of ears/eyeballs. In fact a lot of lost profits labels are crying over are still made. Money didn’t just evaporate in a thin air. Music sharing and uploading on web for free actually makes a lot of money for social platforms, sites, apps and even internet providers and tech brands. For most part money just changed hands. People are fed with an idea that nowadays there isn’t huge machinery getting most of the money before actual music producers (musicians, composers,writers,engineers etc.), but there is. Youtube is definitely one.

    • Anonymous

      Music demand hasn’t shrunk at all; in fact it is more in demand now than at any other time in history. People can debate how much population growth accounts for that fact, but it is true nonetheless.

      • Anri

        I agree.
        Also it’s funny how people are often talking about PERCEIVED contrast between ‘fair and accessible’ todays music publishing and distribution system and old ‘unfair’ one from 80ties and 90ties. In reality, everyone now with computer, mic and internet connection can TRY to build his/her music business, because internet, media and tech companies that are real beneficiaries of music business don’t need or want to risk ANY money. I’m not saying that record companies were better, but they had to at least take some risk with artists if not have a skin in the game by paying for something, giving some money upfront etc. These new beneficiaries on the other hand doesn’t risk or invest anything as far as music goes and when asked about money like in case of youtube pretend to be dumb. ”Oh we? No, we don’t do music. We are not record company. We’re the good guys. No, we are only earning from vlogs. Those hundreds of billions of music video and song video views from millions of songs doesn’t make any significant money.”

  10. Dave Buerger

    Perhaps it’s an issue of semantics. YouTube describes numbers for people WATCHING music. I guess that makes sense for a music video. But the vast majority of music on YouTube is not in the music video format. It’s of a static image of a disc or album cover or nothing at all. In these cases, one LISTENS to music because there is nothing to watch. I’m sure Google has the algorithms to determine if a “video” is populated with a static image vs. traditional video…..