Young people won't pay for music, and trying to force them only leads to piracy. That has been the common wisdom that serves as justification for music on YouTube, Spotify's free tier and more. A new survey of 5000 Americans partially debunks that myth.
By music industry analyst Russ H. Crupnick. He blogs at MusicWatch.
College students are more willing to pay for music streaming services than non-students, according to a Monmouth University analysis of MusicWatch Inc.’s Annual Music Study, which surveyed 5000 Americans 13 and over, including over 700 college students.
The study revealed that 3 out of 4 college students (77 percent) found some feature that would motivate them to pay for a premium music streaming service compared to 46 percent of overall streaming users.
Broad accessibility, ease-of-use, getting music they want right away and music discovery are key benefits students see from free or ad-supported music streaming. However, they would be more likely to convert to premium services if it was harder to get their music from free services, if the paid services offered more choices or if music wasn’t available from the free versions until later. Bundling the subscription fees with their mobile bills was also cited as an incentive to upgrade to a paid service, and the study also showed that free trials are a key lever in moving students from free to paid subscriptions.
The Monmouth University analysis was conducted by Joe Rapolla, chair of the Music and Theater Arts Department and director of its popular Music Industry Program. Rapolla, former senior vice president of marketing at Warner Music Group, concluded that subscription services need to strategically balance how their options impact their bottom lines. In one case, the ad-supported (Freemium) model is a gateway to paid services, and in other cases, this is the option of choice. According to Rapolla, the services need to structure their offerings, commercially positioning each so they are all generating revenue.
“The data shows that price isn’t necessarily the barrier,” Rapolla said. “However, given that many students are satisfied with the music they can get from the free, ad-supported options, and so many have come to rely on video streaming services to get their music, the value-proposition of premium streaming services becomes imperative to communicate. Free is a price point that needs to strategically and carefully co-exist with other price points.”
Despite the perception that college students might only be streaming music, the study showed that they are actually engaging in a variety of ways. Yes, they stream, but they also listen to CDs or their collection of digital downloads. One in five full-time college students bought a CD last year, and 25 percent are still buying paid downloads.
“We have this habit of generalizing about college students, assuming they are at the bleeding edge of every entertainment technology,” said Russ Crupnick, managing partner of MusicWatch. “In fact, college students are a diverse population, and many embrace old-fashioned values related to music ownership or listening to CDs. Students do see value when they buy CDs or downloads; the industry has to convince them there is also value that comes with moving up to a paid subscription service.”
From MusicWatch’s study page: Methodology note: The data referenced in this press release is from the MusicWatch Annual Music Study, which was released in April 2015. MusicWatch surveyed 5,000 U.S. consumers, age 13 and older; results were projected to the U.S. population.
About Monmouth University
Monmouth University is a leading private institution that offers a comprehensive array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Located in West Long Branch, New Jersey, Monmouth University’s magnificent coastal campus is approximately one hour from both New York City and Philadelphia. Monmouth University is listed in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges,” Princeton Review’s “The Best 379 Colleges,” and Money Magazine’s “Best Colleges for YourMoney.” To learn more, visit www.monmouth.edu, or follow Monmouth University on Twitter @monmouthu.
About MusicWatch, Inc.
MusicWatch provides in-depth music consumer research and analyst services for the entertainment industry. With more than ten years of trended data and new research released quarterly, MusicWatch helps clients understand the latest market trends, consumer purchasing and listening habits, including music streaming services, broadcast and satellite radio, and music devices. For more information, visit www.musicwatchinc.com.