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Report explores Covid-19 impact on music streaming in the US


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A report by Nielsen Music / MRC Data has been exploring what the Covid-19 pandemic and the social-distancing measures being taken to tackle it are having on people’s entertainment habits. According to this US-based survey, 60% of people are “engaging more with entertainment during this time” while 24% have signed up to a new subscription service – with 79% of them intending to keep paying for it after the pandemic ends. This isn’t just music, but entertainment more widely – streaming video for example.

(The flipside: 17% of people have cancelled a subscription streaming service in the last two weeks. It’s still a net gain overall, but we shouldn’t be complacent about this.)

When asked what subscription services they have added or intend to add, 81% said video, 38% said music, and 14% video games – more than 100% because some people added multiple subscriptions. The report also backs up the nuanced perspective on the pandemic’s impact on music streaming: in the week ending 19 March, audio streams were down by 6.2% while video music streams were up by 9.3% compared to a ‘baseline volume’ of an eight-week period earlier in the year. The following week (ending 26 March) audio streams were down 9.2% and music video streams up 13.4%. For these two weeks, the overall decline in audio and video streams combined was a 0.8% decline, then a 1.3% decline.

There are some logical reasons for this: 49% of respondents said they are spending less time with music because they are driving or commuting less, while 47% are listening to less music because they’re spending more time with other forms of entertainment – of those people, 73% cited news, 71% books and magazines; 65% films and 64% television.

The report also has some initial data on what music fans think about virtual concerts, amid the explosion in livestreams from artists. 21% of respondents had watched a virtual concert or livestreamed performance in the last two weeks, with 64% saying they were satisfied with the experience. 29% say they’re ‘willing to pay’ for this sort of thing – although as any market researcher will tell you, willingness to do something when asked in a survey is no guarantee of actually doing it.

Stuart Dredge

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