The future of music

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Wilhelm Busch (1832 – 1908), a German draftsman, painter and writer once said: “Music is always noise-related and often not appreciated.” But this most likely depends on the music itself. There is music people like and there is music people don’t like, it’s just a matter of personal taste. And the way how music is “consumed” plays an important role, too.

In a study from 2018 people aged between 16 and 70 were asked about this topic. The study was about the use of music as well as the search for suitable music and where music is bought. In the past there was the radio, cassettes and vinyl records, followed by CD and MP3 players – now we have streaming services, music portals and YouTube. Here, every matter of taste can be served sufficiently. But only this is not enough. It’s also about discovering and looking for new music, the buying behavior, the visit of live-acts of any kind (big events in big venues or small concerts in clubs etc.). Also, the artists who present their music, lyrics and videos in a modern way are important for the choice of the musical style.

Of course, the quality and the presentation are also a huge factor: How is a music video made, is it appealing, does is send a message, how is the quality, is it made for enjoyment, relaxation or just to “chill”. Also important is the music kind. Musical taste is always related to musical education. A classical musician gets relaxation in his free time when he listens to classical music. But there are also hobby and professional musicians who consume all kinds of music randomly to relax.
Music has undergone a remarkable change in the last years and it will continue in the future. One example: paid streaming services are used more frequently, music is digital nowadays – this development will proceed further.

Results of the study

Already every second respondent uses streaming services, every forth the paid version. The market grows but providers have to make sure to have a wide range because if consumers have a favorite artist, they want the whole music package and if they can’t get it the subscription will be canceled.

The radio records the longest stay. People listen to 22 hours of music per week, half of it comes over radio stations. Music over phonograms (CD) adds up to about one and a half hours of listening time and stored music (digitally) comes to three and a half hours. Streaming services are used for about two hours.
The possession of physical music recordings (CD) is not important anymore – half of all consumers don’t need downloads anymore, access to music services is enough. 10% don’t have CDs anymore but 44% of the respondents have more than 500 digital music files.

Concerts are extremely popular. On average, 50 € are spent to go to an interesting live-show once a year. There are also fans of concerts who go to see shows three times or more per year. The willingness to pay for physical and digital albums is great here.

How is music consumed? Already 10% of the respondents own smart speakers (Google Home, Amazon Echo etc.) which are also used for listening to music. The quality of those systems gets better and better and the voice-operated search for music makes life even easier. Music – mobile: this is common nowadays. From a tablet computer or smart phone to head phones or sound systems. The classical stereo is only used by 18% anymore. Based on those results it can clearly be recognized how important the digital availability of music is.

The summery: Music arrived in the age of 4.0, digitization started long ago. In comparison: 30 years ago, we went out to buy vinyl records, then, 20 years ago, CDs and MP3s, today music is streamed, looked up and found online. Music will always be a part of our lives, no matter how and where it is from.