The vast majority of U.S. adults (86%) believe creators should own and control their music and creative works, according to new research released by Downtown Music Holdings℠, the leading global music services company. The findings were part of Downtown’s first Music Business Consumer Pulse Survey, a nationally representative survey of U.S. adult consumers aged 18 and up fielded by Morning Consult™. According to the survey results, fair compensation for artists is highly important to U.S. consumers. Seven in 10 respondents believe music companies should be responsible for ensuring that the artists they represent are treated and compensated fairly. However, only 29% of those surveyed feel music companies actually do this.
“There is a wealth of music industry data available, but very little of it examines how consumers perceive the changes underway in the global music business. Given these shifts occurring have a direct impact on consumers’ own enjoyment of music – from the type of music they engage with to when and how they access music – we thought it made sense to gain a better understanding of consumer sentiments and habits around music consumption and prominent industry trends,” Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz said.
Music is ingrained in daily life
People are listening to more music from a wider range of artists, primarily through streaming services. Ninety percent of U.S. adults said they are frequent music listeners (listening at least a few times a week) and 54% listen to music multiple times a day. Since the pandemic began, a plurality of adults are more likely to listen to a wider range of artists and to new artists, as well as use music streaming services. Nearly 3 in 4 U.S. adults listen to many different artists and genres on a given day (71%) and nearly 2 in 3 enjoy sharing music with friends (63%).
Streaming is popular, but paying for it isn’t
While consumers are increasingly turning to streaming services for access to music, not everyone is willing to pay. More than one in four U.S. adults (28%) who use music streaming services do not pay for any of them; adult consumers in the U.S. are most likely to pay for SiriusXM®, Apple Music® and Tidal™. Adults who do not pay for music streaming services mainly choose not to because they are satisfied with the free version or can find music elsewhere for free. Only 32% of those who said they do not pay for streaming services cited cost as the reason.
U.S. consumers are on the side of creators
Nearly all adults agree artists should own and control the rights to their music (86%), be compensated by music streaming services (83%), and should control where their music is available to the public (81%). About one-third of adults (32%) are in support of a user-centric model while a similar amount (33%) don’t know or don’t have an opinion. Over 2 in 5 adults (44%) believe music streaming services should pay artists between 1%-50% of their profits from playing the artists’ songs, while 1 in 4 have no opinion. A majority of respondents (60%) believe musicians and artists should determine the fair rate music streaming services should pay them.
Consumers have a more favorable opinion of “independent” music companies
When it comes to industry perceptions, U.S. adults are five percentage points more favorable toward independent music companies than major music companies. Adults most commonly associate independent artists with having full control over their music, creativity and being new to the industry, but there is confusion about how the term is defined, or if it even matters; a plurality of U.S. adults (50%) do not consider an artists’ record label when seeking out new music.
As streaming platforms continue to grow exponentially and the economics of music evolve for creators worldwide, Downtown supports artists at any scale by empowering them to seamlessly distribute, license, market and collect royalties on their music. Downtown is the largest pure-play service provider in the global music business, managing more than 23 million music assets on behalf of more than 1 million creators.
The poll was conducted by Morning Consult among a national sample of 2,200 U.S. adults. The interviews were conducted online from June 4-6, 2021, and the data were weighted to approximate target samples based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 points.