Music Business

Spotify fan survey shows vinyl is top merch choice across all genres

Spotify recently conducted a wide-ranging fan survey that anyone tuned into the marketing side of the music business will likely find valuable.

In addition to a few other surprises, the Spotify fan study revealed that vinyl reigns supreme in the merch department, regardless of genres.

Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

Spotify new Fan Study covers a wide range of data that any artist, band, label or manager will find useful. That said, it also brings up a number of surprising points that seem somewhat counterintuitive for the world we live in today, but are certainly worth checking out. A big one is all about the merch that each genre seems to favor.

Different Strokes For Different Genres

The types of ancillary music merchandise that each music genre fan buys is fascinating. For instance, more hats are sold to country music fans than any other genre, while rock fans overwhelmingly love t-shirts as their favorite music accessory.

But while the merch was divided up into shirts, outerwear, CDs, hats and general accessories in the study, it’s the vinyl sales that were most surprising. For instance, vinyl was the #1 merch purchase in every listed music genre except for rock and metal. Even there it was #2 on the list.

Vinyl sales are even more surprising when you look at the artists that are doing the most selling in comparison to their other merch. Of course there are always the legacy rock artists that have fans that will buy any new re-release on the format, but the real news is that it’s not those artists that are having the most success.

Even Newer Artists

In fact, the Fan Study found that it’s the newest artists that are now selling that other larger round piece of plastic. Artists who’s first release came in 2020 found that vinyl made up almost 60% of their merch sales, while artists who’s first release came before 1980 found that it composed only around 24% of their sales. On the other hand, those numbers were flipped with it came to shirt sales, which makes sense when you think about it.

There was also an interesting chart presented that showed that just because an artist had a lot of streams, that didn’t necessarily correlate to merch sales. In fact, some artists with low stream rates actually sold a lot more merch in some cases. Obviously this is totally based on the quality of the artwork (some artists are better at artwork than music) and marketing (some are better at that as well).

Listeners Take More Chances

While back in the 1970s it seemed that everyone was open to hearing almost any musical genre, those tastes became more siloed by the time we hit the 80s and beyond. It looks like we might be returning to the openness of those hippie days though, according to the study.

Fans now easily cross from genre to genre without thinking about it much. While it’s true that there’s a lot of similarity between certain genres like pop, electronic and hip hop, 80% of listeners of classical music will also listen to pop and 73% to rock. Regardless of the main genre, the listener crossover to others that aren’t necessarily similar is encouraging. This could only be good for music in general as listeners become more open minded about what they’re hearing.

There’s a lot more in this Fan Study that is definitely interesting from a music industry perspective, but the main thing is that as soon as you begin to believe you know what a music audience is thinking, it will change on you, which is not so bad in the end.

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