Paid Streaming Subscribers Will Soon Outnumber Free Streaming Users — At Least According to the ERA

So, do you pay to stream music?  The ERA thinks you will soon be the majority.

According to a new study, paid streaming music subscriptions will soon overtake freemium streaming.

That’s according to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), a UK trade association.

More males (24.3%) now pay to stream rather than those who choose to stream for free (23.9%).  Surveyed platforms include Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer, and YouTube Music, among others.

In addition, more 25-34 year olds chose to pay for streaming music (34.9%) over those who didn’t (27.9%).

Breaking down females, more women chose to stream music for free (19.1%) over those who pay to stream (16.8%).

It’s unclear if the ERA’s numbers include the broader expanse of YouTube, host to billions of free streams annually.  But on with the breakdown.

More people under 25 now pay to stream (57.1%), up 3.3% over 2017, according to the ERA’s surprising findings.

In the same age group, just 45.7% chose not to pay, a figure that plummeted 18.3% from the previous year.

Slightly fewer 35-44 year olds paid to stream (26.5%), up 2.6% year-over-year, than those who didn’t (24.4%).  The latter figure declined 1.2% over the previous year.

Slightly more 45-54 year olds (17%) streamed music for free, up 1.9%, over those (15.7%) who didn’t, down 1% over last year.

Older audiences – those 55 and older – still stream music for free (14.9%), up 4.2%, than those who pay to stream (7.2%), up 2.7%.

Breaking down the average, more people still prefer streaming music for free (21.5%) over those who pay for a subscription (20.6%).  However, the former figure dropped 0.2%, revealing that more people now want to pay to stream.  The latter figure – paid streaming – rose 2.3% over the previous year.

Speaking about the figures, Kim Bayley, ERA CEO, explained,

Ten or 15 years ago popular opinion had it that it was all over for the music business and people would no longer pay for music.  These figures are a striking vindication of the innovation and investment of digital services.

Adding that streaming has made it fashionable to pay for music again, Bayley concluded,

What is all the more remarkable is that the likes of Spotify and YouTube also offer fantastic free services, funded by advertising.  These figures suggest that music fans increasingly believe that the added features offered by paid-for services, and the curation which enables them to navigate literally millions of tracks, are definitely worth the money.

Yet, she warned the next battleground for streaming music is female and older music fans.

The UK trade association didn’t release its methodology, including how many people it surveyed.