Gen Z discovering music on YouTube, but not listening

Sweety High, a digital media company for Gen Z girls, has released its first Gen Z Music Consumption & Spending Report, which reveals research around the preferences of the powerhouse cohort. According to the report, while YouTube ranks as the top platform for music discovery (75 per cent), more than half of respondents also cite Radio (58 per cent) and Movies and TV Shows they watch (57 per cent) as top sources for exploring new artists. Additionally, while they may have grown up in an age of reality TV, Gen Z shies away from talent featured on competition shows: they appreciate contestants’ talent but are unlikely to listen to their music after the show ends (78 per cent).

While streaming platforms, like Spotify, ranked second for music discovery (70 per cent), the service is Gen Z’s top choice for frequent listening (61 per cent). YouTube drops to 6th when it comes to general listening (30 per cent), with more Gen Z respondents preferring to listen to music they own, via CDs (38 per cent) or iTunes (36 per cent). When it comes to overall consumption, streaming services have clearly become the new normal, with 66 percent of Gen Z saying they use both for discovery AND listening, vs. Radio (55 per cent) or YouTube (25 per cent).

“Music plays a pivotal role in Gen Z’s lives. They have more options than ever to find undiscovered music, and Gen Z embrace that diversity in their music genres (nearly all, 97 per cent say they listen to 5 different genres regularly) and platforms, blending a mix of new and traditional media options for music discovery and consumption,” said Frank Simonetti, CEO, Sweety High.

Additional key findings from the survey include:

  • The majority of this demographic take pride in their variety of music taste (78 per cent) — preferring to listen to a wide range of artists and genres rather than just one style.
  • So, what is Gen Z listening to? Pop takes the cake, with more than 3 in 4 respondents claiming it as their top choice in music, followed by Rock (51 per cent) and Rap (50 per cent).
  • While only 1 in 5 fans is wooed by a band or artist’s social media presence, 2 out of 3 respondents say they follow artists they like on social and over 80 per cent agree that it’s important for artists to be active on social.
  • Love of the music is their top motivation for liking an artist or band (94 per cent), while a shared preference among their friends runs a distant second (36 per cent).
  • As to where they find artists and new music, YouTube ranks as the top platform for discovery (75 per cent), followed by streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora (70 per cent), and social networks like Instagram and Facebook (62 per cent).
  • Beyond the digital medium, more than half cite Terrestrial Radio (58 per cent) and Movies/TV Shows (57 per cent) as major sources of music discovery.
  • And how are they listening to their favourites? A vast majority (61 per cent) prefer Spotify, with Terrestrial Radio coming in second place (55 per cent), closely followed by Pandora (52 per cent). And their analogue behaviour extends to both CDs and Records, both of which Gen Z still actively use, 38 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.
  • Apple’s iTunes and Apple Music win out over Amazon and Google, capturing double the Gen Z user base.
  • While YouTube was popular for music discovery, less than one-third (29 per cent) use the platform as their go-to listening method, and even less subscribe to the platform’s paid option, YouTube Red (9 per cent).



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