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Music Streaming Users Demand Better Quality Audio

Streaming music subscriptions have climbed sharply during lockdown according to a new Futuresource consumer survey, with 22% of respondents saying that they signed up to a new service. The Audio Tech Lifestyles research study, conducted across the USA, UK, Germany, Japan and China in June 2021, also uncovered a growing demand for high quality audio.

“We found that audio quality, which was historically mostly requested for audio products, is now also an important feature for audio content” says Alexandre Jornod, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “In the same way as last year, audio quality was again the most requested feature streaming users wish they could add to their streaming service, which reflects the developments we have seen in the market with Amazon Music HD and more recently with Apple Music.”

Immersive Sound Tech Gaining Traction

Awareness of audio technologies was particularly high among millennials and older demographics. Spatial Audio technologies like Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio ranked the highest for awareness, with a third of respondents knowing Dolby Atmos and nearly one in four knowing Sony 360 Reality Audio.

YouTube was the most popular way to discover new music across all age groups combined, followed by streaming services and radio. TikTok is also gaining traction, with more than 20% of respondents using it to discover new music.

Streaming Music Service Stacking on the Rise

“Music streaming continues to attract consumer attention, with plenty of activity captured by our survey,” says Jornod. “There were more respondents subscribing to multiple music streaming subscriptions in their households than those who just subscribed to one, especially in the US. However, more people were switching streaming services too. This year, the number of respondents who told us they have switched providers in the past 12 months rose to 45%. That’s up from 36% in 2020.”

Podcasts Growing in Popularity, with Many Willing to Pay

Podcasts are also on the rise, with more than half of respondents listening in 2021, up 17% on last year. Of those who listen, two in every three listen weekly, rising to more than three in every four among millennials. Listening to podcasts isn’t impacting music consumption either, with 82% saying that they consume the same amount or more music as a result of listening to podcasts, consistent with Futuresource Consulting’s 2020 findings.

Over half of all podcast listeners said they would be willing to pay to subscribe to a specific podcast show or network. This was particularly prevalent in China, at 79%, but also scored strongly in the US, at 56% of listeners.

The new Audio Tech Lifestyles report from Futuresource Consulting includes detailed consumer survey responses about ownership and usage of headphones, home audio, audio and music across the USA, UK, Germany, Japan and China, conducted with more than 10,000 consumers. For further information or to make a purchase, please contact

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Alexandre Jornod

About the author

Alexandre Jornod

Alexandre is the lead analyst for the music market. He is notably responsible for researching and reporting on the developments in the music streaming market. Alex is also involved in projects within the audio sector, with a focus on the luxury market as well as on high-resolution and immersive audio technologies.

Prior to Futuresource, Alexandre has worked in the music industry, leading the relationships with streaming services at a record label and a distribution company. He holds a Bachelor in Sound Engineering as well as an MA in Music Business Management and MSc in Management.

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