Over One-Third of U.S. Music Listeners Don’t Pay for a Streaming Service, Study Finds

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Amazon Music managed to tie Spotify on a newly released study’s list of the most-used streaming services (as a percentage of listeners) in the U.S. during 2022. Photo Credit: Activate Consulting

Despite continued subscribership growth for Spotify, Apple, and others, a little over one-third of U.S.-based music listeners opted not to pay for streaming during 2021 and 2022, according to a newly released report.

This noteworthy data point (and a number of other interesting stats) just recently came to light, after Spotify in late January reported record user growth for Q4 2022. As part of the latter, the Stockholm-headquartered company said that it had added 10 million subscribers across October, November, and December of last year, for a total of 205 million paid users at 2022’s conclusion.

Notwithstanding this figure and the 935 million subscriptions that Apple claims to boast, however, it now appears that a substantial portion of music listeners have yet to make the jump from free to paid platforms.

The initially mentioned report, published by Activate Consulting, shows that 35 percent of music listeners (defined as United States residents “aged 18+ who spend any time listening to music”) didn’t “own a paid music subscription” as of 2022, up one percent from 2021.

Of course, the percentages reflect an inverse one percent slip in the portion of listeners who subscribed to streaming services between 2021 and 2022. Behind the figures, the analysis communicates that 49 percent of ad-supported (or possibly password-sharing) streamers were age 55 or older, compared to only 22 percent of subscribers.

Additionally, the document indicates that far more ad-supported listeners had an annual household income of less than $50,000, at 48 percent to 29 percent, while there was a clear preference for mobile-device listening (55 percent to 39 percent) among subscribers. The former point is worth bearing in mind as Spotify continues to resist raising the monthly cost of individual subscriptions in the States, even as the likes of Deezer, Apple Music, and Amazon Music have already done so.

Furthermore, almost two-thirds of stateside listeners utilized multiple streaming platforms on a monthly basis in 2022, with 40 percent of respondents having accessed music via three or more services and another 24 percent having enjoyed songs through two services, according to the report.

Predictably, the ever-popular YouTube (including YouTube Music) led the pack in terms of use prevalence as a portion of total listeners, with 61 percent of the study participants communicating that they turned to the platform at least monthly. Spotify followed with 35 percent, per the resource, and Amazon Music (including those who listen as part of a Prime subscription) managed to tie the leading music streaming service.

Pandora came next with 23 percent, its SiriusXM parent placed fifth with 21 percent, and the subscription-only Apple Music took the sixth spot with 19 percent, the report shows.