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US Internet Radio market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Internet Radio market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?


This Report covers internet-based streaming music services, including personalized streams utilizing user inputs of likes and dislikes and on demand services. Terrestrial radio, satellite radio, and personal libraries are discussed in the Report as competing sources of music listening. While data includes internet-based rebroadcasts of terrestrial radio, the focus of research rests on personalized streams of music services via desktop platforms and mobile apps. Video-based sources of music, including YouTube and Vevo, are considered to be part of the streaming music market.

This Report builds upon research conducted for Mintel’s Streaming Media: Music – US, October 2015.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Billy Hulkower, a leading analyst in the Technology sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The use of internet-based music services is closing in on traditional means of listening to music, including terrestrial radio and personal libraries. The finding, alongside clear distinctions in how younger listeners use streaming services suggests that over the next decade streaming services will become the dominant means of listening to music, with ad sales and subscription sales currently allocated to terrestrial and satellite radio broadcasts transitioning to the coffers of streaming media services. To this end, Mintel’s Report explores how streaming services can better understand current users, and how advertisers can best take advantage of the growing usage of streaming services. Billy Hulkower
Senior Technology Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • Figure 1: Total US streaming revenue, 2014-17
        • The issues
          • Justifying a paid subscription
            • Figure 2: Paid services, August 2018
          • Free listening is too easy
            • Figure 3: Attitudes toward free listening, August 2018
          • Getting streaming services to be part of the routine
            • Figure 4: Frequency of audio service use, August 2018
          • The opportunities
            • Streaming audiences have distinct demographics
              • Figure 5: Listening services used, by key demographics, August 2018
            • Emphasizing large libraries
              • Figure 6: Reasons to pay, August 2018
            • Reaching listeners on the go
              • Figure 7: Devices used, August 2018
            • Strong support for the artists
              • Figure 8: Attitudes toward ethical listening, August 2018
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Streaming category is strong
                • Music growth dependent on streaming
                  • Media landscape favors consolidation, videos
                    • More opportunities online and offline
                    • Market Size

                      • Streaming revenue growing exponentially
                        • Figure 9: Total US streaming revenue, 2014-17
                    • Market Breakdown

                      • Streaming dominates music revenue
                        • Figure 10: US music industry revenues, by share of sector, 2017
                      • Music subscriptions
                        • Figure 11: US paid music subscription revenue, 2014-17
                        • Figure 12: Number of US paid music subscribers, 2014-17
                      • Streaming radio
                        • Figure 13: US digital and customized radio revenue, 2014-17
                      • Digital downloads
                        • Figure 14: US digital downloads revenue, 2014-17
                    • Media and Music

                      • Major acquisitions shaping media landscape
                        • Shopping, videos dominate online activity
                          • Figure 15: Conduction of digital activities, December 2017
                        • Media apps under essentials and social media
                          • Figure 16: Types of apps used in last 30 days, January 2017-March 2018
                      • Market Perspective

                        • Concerts boom as music landscape shifts
                          • Rise of smart tech
                            • One in five say social media is their main form of entertainment
                              • 5G networks to boost mobile capability
                                • Heavy investments in online advertising
                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                  • Streaming players use similar strategies
                                    • Shortening the distance between service and listener
                                      • Protecting artists’ rights
                                        • Platforms to help the artists
                                        • Leading Players

                                          • Spotify
                                            • Apple Music
                                              • Amazon Music
                                                • Pandora
                                                  • SoundCloud
                                                    • iHeartRadio
                                                      • Tidal
                                                        • Google Play
                                                          • YouTube Music
                                                            • Figure 17: Google “YouTube Music” mobile advertisement, July 2018
                                                        • What’s Working?

                                                          • Partnering with networks for greater access
                                                            • Figure 18: Sprint “Introducing Unlimited Plus” email, July 2018
                                                          • Cross-entertainment partnerships and promotions
                                                            • Getting baked into platforms
                                                              • Using less data to stream
                                                                • Emphasizing the playlist for discovery
                                                                • What’s Struggling?

                                                                  • Artists could be losing out
                                                                    • Figuring out what kind of content to allow
                                                                    • What’s Next?

                                                                      • Push for open access in streaming
                                                                        • More investment in the niche
                                                                          • Direct licensing to cut out record labels
                                                                            • Get podcasts to fit in
                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                              • YouTube dominates listening services
                                                                                • Most listeners not paying
                                                                                  • More access, few ads important for paid users
                                                                                    • Free listening is too easy
                                                                                      • Subscriptions are the path of least resistance
                                                                                        • Mobile experience essential to streaming
                                                                                          • Seeking relics in a digital age
                                                                                            • Pay the artists
                                                                                              • Emphasizing the benefits of streaming
                                                                                              • Services Used

                                                                                                • Key opportunity
                                                                                                  • Free services still most popular
                                                                                                    • Figure 19: Listening services used, August 2018
                                                                                                  • Streaming services not as habitual as traditional radio
                                                                                                    • Figure 20: Frequency of audio service use, August 2018
                                                                                                  • Key demographics show opportunity for streaming music
                                                                                                    • Figure 21: Listening services used, by key demographics, August 2018
                                                                                                • Paid Services

                                                                                                  • Key opportunity
                                                                                                    • Two thirds of adults don’t pay for music
                                                                                                      • Figure 22: Paid services, August 2018
                                                                                                    • All it takes is one
                                                                                                      • Figure 23: Number of paid services, August 2018
                                                                                                    • Most people taking the free option if available…
                                                                                                      • Figure 24: Paid service among all users of service, August 2018
                                                                                                    • …but upgrades do happen
                                                                                                      • Figure 25: Attitudes toward upgrading service and using other accounts, August 2018
                                                                                                    • Digital downloads still relevant
                                                                                                      • Figure 26: Digital download purchases, August 2018
                                                                                                  • Reasons to Pay

                                                                                                    • Key opportunity
                                                                                                      • Song selection is key
                                                                                                        • Figure 27: Reasons to pay, August 2018
                                                                                                      • Accessibility important to Hispanic listeners
                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Reasons to pay – Select items, by Hispanic origin, August 2018
                                                                                                      • SoundCloud, Apple dominate discovery
                                                                                                        • Figure 29: Influence of new content, by service used, August 2018
                                                                                                    • Barriers to Payment

                                                                                                      • Key opportunity
                                                                                                        • Listening for free is just too easy
                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Barriers to payment, August 2018
                                                                                                        • Young listeners can get what they need already
                                                                                                          • Figure 31: Barriers to payment – Select items, by age, August 2018
                                                                                                      • Subscriptions

                                                                                                        • Key opportunity
                                                                                                          • Narrowing options can help get subscriptions
                                                                                                            • Figure 32: Attitudes toward subscriptions, August 2018
                                                                                                          • Parents looking for convenience
                                                                                                            • Figure 33: Attitudes toward subscriptions, by parental status, August 2018
                                                                                                        • Devices Used

                                                                                                          • Key opportunity
                                                                                                            • Phones are just as popular as the car stereo
                                                                                                              • Figure 34: Devices used, August 2018
                                                                                                            • Young adults need interaction, older attracted to tradition
                                                                                                              • Figure 35: Devices used – Select items, by age, August 2018
                                                                                                            • Services to listen to on the go
                                                                                                              • Figure 36: Mobile devices used, by services used, August 2018
                                                                                                          • Listening Behaviors

                                                                                                            • Key opportunity
                                                                                                              • Old habits die hard
                                                                                                                • Figure 37: Behaviors regarding traditional listening, August 2018
                                                                                                              • Discovery and offline listening may not be crucial
                                                                                                                • Figure 38: Listening to discover, August 2018
                                                                                                              • Young adults listening to learn
                                                                                                                • Figure 39: Listening to discover, by age, August 2018
                                                                                                            • Ethical Listening

                                                                                                              • Key opportunity
                                                                                                                • Listeners want to do right
                                                                                                                  • Figure 40: Attitudes toward ethical listening, August 2018
                                                                                                                • Young men care more about the artists than the service
                                                                                                                  • Figure 41: Attitudes toward ethical listening, by gender and age, August 2018
                                                                                                              • Attitudes toward Streaming

                                                                                                                • Key opportunity
                                                                                                                  • Passive recommendations important to listeners
                                                                                                                    • Figure 42: Attitudes toward listening recommendations, August 2018
                                                                                                                  • Balancing the old and the new
                                                                                                                    • Figure 43: Streaming preferences, August 2018
                                                                                                                  • Young adults get the most out of streaming
                                                                                                                    • Figure 44: Attitudes toward streaming – Select items, by age, August 2018
                                                                                                                  • Black, Hispanic listeners streaming more than anything
                                                                                                                    • Figure 45: Attitudes toward streaming – Select items, by race and Hispanic origin, August 2018
                                                                                                                  • Mobility important for urban listeners
                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Attitudes toward streaming – Select items, by living area, August 2018
                                                                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                  • Data sources
                                                                                                                    • Sales data
                                                                                                                      • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                        • Direct marketing creative
                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                            • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                              • Terms