Music Business

Music listening fell 10% in last 8 years as podcasts, spoken word audio grew

U.S. consumers are listening to more spoken word audio and less music according to a new annual survey.

The 2021 Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research documents how news, podcasts, audiobooks, and talk radio’s share of audio listening is at an all-time high.

The new report also shows how young and diverse listeners are consuming more spoken-word audio content than ever before.

Key study findings

  1. Spoken Word’s share of audio listening has increased by 40% over the last seven years; 8% this year
  2. Spoken word audio’s growth is driven by large increases in young and multicultural audiences
  3. While most listeners cite the ability to multitask one of the main motivations for spoken word audio listening, young and multicultural audiences are more likely to cite other reasons such as connection, education, new perspectives, self-improvement [via RAIN]

Is music less important?

While trends in audio habits have led to an explosion of music-related podcast content, the increase in non-music audio listening also presents a major threat to a music industry used to benefiting from all background and casual audio listening.

Top music streamer Spotify stated its intent to be a leader in “all things audio” and grew its podcast offering exponentially in recent years. This week Spotify acquired Findaway to accelerate an expansion into audiobooks.

A 2021 webinar was hosted by National Public Media’s VP of Sponsorship Marketing Lamar Johnson, and Edison Research’s VP, Megan Lazovic.

Read the full report here.

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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