Nielsen 360 Survey Finds AM/FM Radio Still Preferred Music Discovery Method

A recent Nielsen U.S. Music 360 study has found that while streaming continues to increase in popularity among music listeners, AM/FM radio still stands as the primary way listeners discover new music, according to 49 percent of study participants.

The second most-popular avenue for discovering new music is recommendations from friends and relatives (40 percent), followed by online music services (27 percent) and social media (25 percent). 72 percent on study participants who stream music online also listen to some form of radio.

The study found that 90 percent of the population listens to music, with consumers spending an average of 32.1 hours per week listening to music. The survey also found that people spend an average of $156 on music each year, the majority of that allocated to live performances.

Outside of concert attendance, survey participants spent 41 percent of their music listening time consuming music through streaming, while terrestrial and satellite radio took 25 percent of listening time. Fourteen percent of listening time was spent on music from a digital music library, and physical formats took up 11 percent of listening time.

Source: Nielsen

Among those who consume music via streaming, Nielsen’s study says that 58 percent of listeners create their own playlists, and 32 percent of listeners share the playlists with others. Forty-eight percent of study participants said that they preferred making their own playlists to listening to the playlists of others, while many participants ranked playlists made by family or friends as more important than those created by experts or artists.

Given the multitude of ways to consume music, the study found music listeners use an average of 3.4 devices weekly to consume music, with that number ticking up to 3.8 devices on average for teens and millennials.

Social media is increasingly vital for listeners to stay up to date on news about their favorite artists, with 55 percent of all music listeners in the study saying they use social media to stay informed about artists they like. Primarily, they use social media to discover news of upcoming albums (54 percent), tour updates (50 percent) and behind-the-scenes information about an artist’s life (48 percent).

Nielsen’s collected data for the study from an online survey in August 2017, involving more than 3,000 music consumers over 13 years of age. The data was weighted to reflect U.S. census population information including age, gender, region, education and more.

For more statistics from Nielsen’s 2017 360 Survey, visit


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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