Music Business

Despite podcast growth, new Dolby survey shows increased music listening, growing interest in audio quality

A new music survey sponsored by Dolby is filled with optimistic ‘post-pandemic’ news for musicians and the music industry.

At a time of growling concerns over podcasts and other audio competing with music, more than two thirds those surveyed spent more time listening to music each day than before the start of 2020.

Fan interest in improved audio is also hitting new highs with almost 90% saying that its a “must-have” feature of their subscription. A willingness to pay more for music as well as to purchase new gear to play enhanced audio are also good signs for artists and labels.

Missed Opportunity

The survey also points to a missed opportunity that effects the payment pool for artists.

With fan interest in enhanced audio growing alongside a willingness to pay more for music, why did Spotify, Apple Music. TIDAL, and others choose to offer hi-def streaming at no additional cost? And why did the record labels let them?

“Music fills our lives with moments of joy and has been a way to escape the challenges we have faced over the past two years. This has driven changes in consumer behavior, such as the revival of music from past decades to the prioritization of better-quality experiences that allow listeners to connect more deeply with their favorite artists and songs,” said John Couling, Senior Vice President of Entertainment at Dolby Laboratories. “As we look to the future, we expect these influences to have a lasting impact over how we enjoy music.”

Dolby Music Survey Highlights

The US-based survey, conducted by OnePoll in November 2021, polled 2,000 general population adults who regularly listen to music for at least one hour per day. 

  • Over two-thirds spend more time listening to music each day than before the start of 2020, with over half listening to music four hours per day or more.
  • 55% indicated that they spend more money on music purchases each month than at the start of 2020.  
  • Among those who pay for a music streaming plan, nearly 90% agreed that enhanced audio quality is a “must-have” feature of their subscription, of which more than half strongly agreed.  
    • Of this group, 82% have upgraded, changed subscriptions, or explicitly paid for a service because it offered better audio quality.
  • Nearly two-thirds who pay for a music streaming subscription indicated that better sound quality was more important than other features such as ad-free listening, exclusive content, or the ability to add multiple users to their account.
  • Over 70% surveyed are likely or very likely to purchase a new audio device specifically to enhance their experience when listening to music within the next six months.  
  • Preference for better audio quality was notably high among Gen Z:
    • Nearly half of Gen Z who pay for a music streaming subscription want access to the latest cutting-edge audio technologies with their plan.
    • 86% of Gen Z surveyed are likely to purchase a new audio device in the next six months to get better audio quality when enjoying music.
  • Respondents would rather have better audio quality when enjoying music over other forms of entertainment like playing video games or watching movies, TV, or even sports.  ·                 
  • Comparing various types of in-car entertainment, most see the biggest opportunity for enhancing the listening experience when enjoying music in the car (43%), followed by audiobooks and podcasts (23%).
  • More than two-thirds stated they were very interested or somewhat interested in a new technology that lets them experience music more deeply when driving.  

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