Music discovery led by 'old media'

When it comes to discovering new talent, ‘old media’ continues to hold considerable sway among music fans, new report shows.

Paul Nichols headshot
  • By Paul Nichols
  • 24 Dec 2014
  • min read
According to a survey conducted by Media Insight Consulting, 59 percent of the UK population still learn about new music through traditional radio. The research, which asked more than 2,500 adults to select the ways they discover music from a list of options including shops, cinema and computer games, found that TV is the next biggest referrer on 51 percent. The internet - a broad grouping which includes social media and organic search - comes in third at 47 percent.

Although old media – classified as TV and radio – still wins out among older age groups of 45-54 and 55+, the habits of younger music fans tell a very different story. Adults in the 16-24 age bracket are much less engaged with traditional radio but are the biggest users of the internet, music apps and streaming. A staggering 73 percent of respondents in this age category said they discover new music via the internet, while 42 percent use music apps to inform their tastes and 35 percent cite streaming playlists as a crucial source of new music.

Gaming and cinema are also particularly important discovery tools among 16-24 year olds, with one in five learning about music this way (21 percent for gaming, 19 percent for cinema). This is double the average across all ages, proving music placements and synchronisation are more important than ever in bringing artists to young fans.

This pattern is echoed among respondents in the 25-34 age bracket, with 60 percent saying they discover new music via the internet, 36 percent via music apps and 33 percent by streaming playlists. This contrasts with only seven percent of over 55s using streaming services in this way.

Chris Carey (above), founder of Media Insight Consulting, said: ‘We are still seeing lots of music discovery coming from old media and we expect that to continue for some time yet. However, if streaming services go mainstream we anticipate they will start to hold their own, and possibly pack a greater punch than old media in the long run.’

The research also found that word of mouth recommendations are still an important music discovery mechanism for all age groups except the over 55s. Nearly two in three (59 percent) 16-24 year olds hear about new music from their peers, followed by 52 percent of 25-34s, 49 percent of 35-44s and 42 percent of 45-54s. However, less than a third of people in the 55+ category are likely to discover new music through friends, family and peers.

Media Insight Consulting, which was founded by Chris Carey in April 2014, works with labels and publishers to understand changing music habits in the UK and overseas.

Previously, Chris was Global Insight Director at Universal Music Group where he oversaw the company’s media forecasting operations. Before that, he worked at EMI where he established and led their Big Data team, focusing on Spotify and iTunes analytics.

Chris has also been Senior Economist at PRS for Music, where he co-authored the Adding Up the Music Industry papers with Will Page. These papers valued the live music market for the first time and helped the UK government revalue music’s contribution to the economy from £176m a year to £1.33bn.