New report explores music consumption habits of young millennials

A new report for BPI (British Phonographic Industry) and entertainment retail body, ERA, was unveiled on 27 June 2017.

Compiled by Mark Mulligan of MiDiA Research, Generation Z: Meet the Young Millennials explores the music consumption habits and social media behaviour of today’s millennials and looks at how young people’s engagement across streaming and video platforms and social media and messaging apps – including Instagram, Snapchat and – is shaping longer-term trends.

The research finds that for today’s tweens and teenagers, YouTube is a pervasive platform not only for new music and content and access to influential YouTubers but also for social engagement. YouTube plays a key role as a ‘video destination, music app, social platform and educational resource rolled into one’.

Messaging apps, including Snapchat and Instagram, are becoming increasingly important, replacing social networks for Generation Z and enabling them to act on their impulse to ‘live in the moment’ and ‘narrate their lives’.  As such, they help build engagement around music and artist profiles.

More recent apps like and Dubsmash – video social network apps for video creation and messaging – are also growing in popularity. This is, in part, due to a rate of app innovation that is accelerating thanks to the ‘millennial feedback loop’ of older millennials shaping app experiences for the younger Gen Z.

In addition, the research shows that as teenagers develop as music consumers, they are likely to be drawn to audio streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music. For those aged 16-19, Spotify is overtaking YouTube as the main music app with 53% weekly user penetration compared to 47% for YouTube.

This helps to underline another finding highlighted in the report from previous MiDiA research, which shows that younger consumers (16-19 years: 67%) are more prepared to pay for music than other age groups (56%).

Streaming is, however, also transforming UK teens’ relationship with music – with millennials increasingly accessing individual tracks or playlists rather than engaging with artists or albums.

The report was unveiled at a BPI/ERA Insight Session chaired by Music Ally‘s Paul Brindley and attended by 90 industry guests.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive, BPI & BRIT Awards, said:

‘If we are going to prepare for the future of music, we need to better understand Generation Z and the influences that shape their engagement with music. These young digital natives are not only important as a key segment of the market but the way they interact with music helps to unveil trends that will become more widespread among music fans over time.’

Kim Bayley, Chief Executive, ERA, said:

‘It’s not news that entertainment is changing but none of us should underestimate the achievement of the streaming revolution. Not only has it helped stop piracy in its tracks, it has created the first real growth in the music industry in more than a decade and has done so with an unbeatable consumer proposition: 24/7 access to virtually all the music in the world. In the fast-paced digital world, however, nothing is forever and it is vital to stay close to emerging generations of music fans, many of whom were not even born at the dawn of the MP3 age.’

Generation Z: Meet the Young Millennials – Summary of key findings

  • 85% of 16-19 year olds say that music is an important part of their life
  • Authenticity, relevance, shareability and context are key to Gen Z
  • YouTube is the most pervasive entertainment platform for Gen Z, peaking at 94% monthly penetration among 16-19-year-olds
  • However, for these 16-19-year-olds, as interest in music develops, Spotify is overtaking YouTube as the main music app with 53% weekly user penetration compared to 47% for YouTube
  • Music is the most widely watched content type among 12-15-year-olds on YouTube with YouTubers such as Zoella (11.8m subscribers) and KSI (16.1m) becoming the new pop stars for Gen Z
  • UK teens (16-19 years) are more willing to pay for music: 67% consider it to be worth paying for regularly compared to 56% of overall consumers
  • A third of 8-11-year-olds in the UK use Snapchat, rising to 67% for 16-19-year-olds while 63% of 16-19-year-olds use Instagram
  • Messaging apps like Snapchat and Instagram are replacing social networks for Gen Z
  • Among 16-19-year-olds ,YouTube and social media unsurprisingly dominate with much higher penetration rates than the overall population
  • Streaming is transforming Gen Z’s relationship with music: 74% of all 16-19-year-olds say they are mainly listening to single tracks and playlists instead of albums
  • 71% of 16-19-year-olds listen to music radio on an at least monthly basis, just 3 percentage points above the all-ages average

Header infographic: Snapshot of Generation Z social media usage

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