Today’s Teens Buy 19% Less Music

April 7, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Media & Entertainment | Radio | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Teens between ages 13 and 17 listened to more online music in 2008 than they did in 2007, but acquired 19% less, according to research from the The NPD Group, which reported that this decline includes a combined 26% decrease in CD purchases and a 13% dip in paid digital downloads.

In the case of paid digital downloads, 32% of teens purchasing less digital music expressed discontent with the music that was available for purchase, while 23% say they already have a suitable collection of digital music, according to NPD’s music tracking surveys. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of teens also cited cutbacks in overall entertainment spending as a reason for buying fewer downloads.

Downturn in Music Sharing

The downturn in paid music acquisition was also matched by a decline in the quantity of tracks downloaded for free from peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, which fell 6% in 2008, NPD said. Similarly, the number of teens borrowing music, either to rip to a computer or burn to a CD, fell by 28%.

“While we expected to see the continued decline in CD purchasing among teens, it was surprising to see that fewer teens downloaded music from P2P sites or borrowed them from friends,” said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for The NPD Group. “These declines could be happening due to a lack of excitement among teens about the music available, but could also reflect a larger shift in the ways teens interact with music.”

Jumps in Online Listening

NPD’s research also noted sharp jumps in teens’ usage of online listening sources and satellite radio in 2008:

  • More than half of teens (52%) listened to online radio in 2008, compared with just 34% in 2007.
  • Downloading or listening to music on social networks jumped from 26% in 2007 to 46% in 2008
  • Satellite radio listening among teens rose from 19% in 2007 to 31% in 2008.

“With popular music sites complementing offerings by terrestrial and satellite radio, more teens may be getting their fill of music and feeling less compelled to buy music or share it with others,” Crupnick said, adding that a recent NPD MusicLab survey found that 54% of teens who heard a song they liked on MySpace Music were likely to simply listen to that song again on the site, compared with only 1% who claimed they would click through and buy the song.

Majority Use MP3 Players

According to NPD’s Digital Music Monitor, 70% of Web-using teens actively used a portable music player in Q408, which is virtually unchanged from the same period a year earlier.

“As the portable music player market matures, there’s a greater chance that teens will have already acquired the bulk of their collections, which reduces the desire to buy music or the need to get more by sharing and swapping with others,” Crupnick said. “In fact it’s possible teens could start spending more time creating playlists and posting them online, than they would spend sharing actual song files.”

About the research: Data comes from NPD’s Digital Music Study, which is based on a sample of more than 4,000 consumers. Additional information was derived from NPD’s MusicLab consumer surveys, which were conducted in January 2009 and are based on a sample of more than 4,000 consumers. All results were balanced to reflect the internet population (ages 13+).


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