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Analyst Calls Streaming Audio Critical Pathway to “Affluent” and “Tech-Savvy” Consumers.

The record worldwide growth of e-listening is “signaling new opportunities for brands to innovate with audio,” according to Marketing Research and Intelligence Association chief editor Arundati Dandapani.

In a column on, Dandapani argues that a strategy to reach “tech-savvy” e-listeners across a range of platforms has become “critical.”

“E-listening (which includes streaming online or listening to downloaded music, radio or TV) has seen record growth in global media adoption rates of streaming across devices and platforms,” writes Dandapani, who describes the typical e-listener as educated, affluent, employed and relatively young.

The rise of “podcasting, and voice-operated smart speakers points to the growing prevalence of audio tech in consumers’ lives,” she writes. “Smart speaker owners and podcast listeners are also the early adopters of this technology and report fluency with technology products, suggesting that all those who listen to digital audio are also digital natives.”

No matter the device(s) they’re using, multiple surveys report that more people are streaming and downloading music, news, wellness programming, and podcasts than ever. (Podcast revenue more than doubled for iHeart radio in Q2.)

In 2019 MusicWatch found that more than 75% of American internet users age 13 and up listen to music via streaming. According to Nielsen, 63% of survey respondents pay for at least one audio-streaming subscription and 53% pay for two.

A February report found that Spotify, currently the top audio streaming service, topped 130 million paid subscribers, with another 257 million listening to the app’s free, ad-supported version. At the time, Pandora had nearly 61 million users, with only around 6.2 million paid subscribers.

Dandapani believes the coronavirus has helped accelerate this trend. “Globally, brands saw a surge in e-listening during the pandemic,” she says. “In the UK and U.S., the top two activities performed online during the pandemic were searching for COVID-19 updates followed by listening to music, according to a Global Web Index study — indicating a consumer appetite for content conveying safety, comfort and motivation in uncertain times.”

Content is obviously important, but with e-listening “largely device-driven” Dandapani says it’s also useful to understand how and where people are accessing their favorite content.

“The rise in mobile streaming is worth tracking for brands to understand streamers’ relationships with their devices,” Dandapani says. “Smart speaker ownership also skews young, educated, employed and affluent, according to varied market sources. With (as reported by Nielsen) 81% of Americans owning a smartphone and one in five U.S. consumers being smartphone-only internet users, and 91% of U.S. consumers reporting a subscription to a video-streaming service and 30% subscribing to three or more such services, there is little doubt that consumers’ e-listening habits are growing.”

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