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Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Streaming Audio  US market including the behaviors, preferences and habits of the consumer.

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What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

The convenience of streaming for instant access to content has resulted in rapid growth of online video, audio and gaming entertainment. Streaming video has already surpassed traditional television watching, and audio streaming is heading in the same direction. Music streaming-focused companies like Pandora and Spotify currently hold valuations of billions of dollars. Podcasts (essentially digital talk radio) and audiobooks continue to grow in usage as well; consumer spending on audiobooks exceeded $1 billion in 2019 while podcast advertising spend is forecast to surpass the $1 billion benchmark in 2021.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

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

Streaming technology has revolutionized how consumers find and listen to content. Music streaming is increasingly replacing music ownership, podcasts are increasingly replacing talk radio, and audiobooks have never been more accessible to consumers. The streaming audio market, supported primarily through premium subscriptions and advertising, continues to grow and offer value for marketers looking for new avenues to reach their consumers.
Buddy Lo
Technology and Consumer Electronics Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top Takeaways
    • Market overview
    • Impact of COVID-19 on streaming audio
      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on streaming audio, October 2020
    • Opportunities and Challenges
    • Promote streaming audio as a “must have” complement to daily activities
      • Figure 2: Audio streaming activities, by type of service, August 2020
    • Audio streamers more judicious in how much they’ll pay for streaming
      • Figure 3: Price sensitivity analysis of the ideal streaming audio service, August 2020
    • 2021 will mark the push for profitability among music streamers
    • Streaming services need to prioritize building loyalty with younger consumers
      • Figure 4: Use of music streaming service and only free, ad-supported, by age, August 2020
    • VR concerts represent an opportunity for brands to fill the gap of live music
    • Bundles and cross promotions will remain a vital strategy for success during recovery
    • What it means
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Digital streaming is catching up to traditional radio
    • Spotify continues growth despite well-funded music competition from Apple, Amazon and Google
    • Podcasting and Audiobooks expect continued growth
    • Digital solutions offer alternative to live music
  4. Market Trends

    • Traditional radio trending down against digital audio
      • Figure 5: Digital music streaming services used in the past 30 days, 2015-20
    • Impact of COVID-19 on streaming audio
    • Audio listenership steamrolls ahead despite COVID-19
      • Figure 6: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on streaming audio, October 2020
  5. Segment Performance

    • Music streaming
    • Varied usage among consumers leaves opening for leader to emerge
      • Figure 7: Digital music streaming services used in the past 30 days, April 2019-June 2020
      • Figure 8: Digital music streaming services used in the past 30 days, 2015-20
    • Spotify’s growth indicates a favorable trend for music streaming
      • Figure 9: Spotify revenue, 2015-19
      • Figure 10: Spotify monthly active users and premium subscribers, 2017-19
    • YouTube Music and YouTube Premium have 20M subscribers
    • Apple revenue from services show high growth
      • Figure 11: Verizon acquisition email, April 2020
    • Podcasting
    • Podcasting advertising revenues expected to eclipse $1 billion in 2021
      • Figure 12: Podcast advertising spend by industry, April 2020-August 2020
    • Audiobooks
    • Audiobook spending already eclipsed $1 billion mark in 2019
      • Figure 13: Purchased an e-book within the past 12 months, 2015-20
  6. Market Factors

    • COVID-19 raises profile of smart speakers in the home
    • Younger consumers hit worse by COVID-19 economic fallout
      • Figure 14: Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, by age, September 2019-September 2020
  7. Market Opportunities

    • Loss of live music opens the door for digital solutions
      • Figure 15: Purple Disco Machine Instagram post, October 2020
    • TikTok the new avenue to generate revenue and exposure
    • Spotify looks to bring karaoke functionality to its platform
    • Opportunity for brands to partner with music streaming platforms
  8. Key Players in Streaming Audio

    • Spotify
    • Apple Music
    • Amazon
    • Pandora
    • SoundCloud
    • Tidal
    • YouTube Music & Google Play Music
    • BarstoolSports Media
  9. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Sirius XM makes significant investments in audio streaming
    • T-Mobile allowing unlimited audio streaming
    • Programmatic ad buying moves audio streaming to profitability
  10. Companies and Brands – Market Movers

    • Sirius XM makes serious investments into streaming audio
    • Spotify adds top podcast programs to its portfolio
    • SoundCloud raises $75 million from Sirius XM
    • T-Mobile offers unlimited music and audio streaming on its Simple Choice Plan
    • Tidal partners with Oculus
  11. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • More than half of consumers listen to streaming audio
    • Younger consumers pair music with a variety of activities
    • Half of audio streamers skip ads when they can
    • Majority of users use free ad-supported services
    • Spotify one of the leading services for both free and paid users
    • Comedy and news/current events lead podcast genres
    • Optimum price point for the “ideal streaming service” around $10-11
  12. The Consumer: Trends Drivers

    • Behaviors shift, but listening continues post-pandemic
      • Figure 16: Mintel Trend Drivers and supporting Pillars – Wellbeing, Technology, Value
    • A greater focus on wellness means opportunities for audio streaming
    • Internet reach and connectivity drive access to digital audio
    • A balance of price, number of ads and content will drive overall usage
  13. Video and Audio Entertainment Consumption

    • More than half of consumers stream audio content
      • Figure 17: Video and audio entertainment consumption, August 2020
      • Figure 18: Streaming audio consumption, by audio streamers, August 2020
    • Brands looking to reach younger consumers should consider music streaming platforms
      • Figure 19: Streaming audio consumption, by age, August 2020
      • Figure 20: Streaming audio consumption, by gender and age, August 2020
    • English-speaking Hispanics among the most likely listeners
      • Figure 21: Streaming audio consumption, by race and Hispanic origin, August 2020
      • Figure 22: Streaming audio consumption, by Hispanic origin and age, August 2020
    • Podcast and audiobook audiences index higher among younger, wealthier households
      • Figure 23: Streaming audio consumption, by age and household income, August 2020
  14. Audio Streaming Activities

    • Audio streaming a good complement to a wide variety of activities
      • Figure 24: Audio streaming activities, August 2020
    • Younger consumers live life to their own soundtrack
      • Figure 25: Audio streaming activities, by 18-24 year olds, August 2020
    • Paid service users listening across more activities
      • Figure 26: Audio streaming activities, by types of music streaming services used, August 2020
  15. Audio Streaming Behaviors

    • Half of audio streamers skip ads if they can
      • Figure 27: Audio streaming behaviors, August 2020
    • Podcast and audiobook listeners more likely to share what they’re listening to with friends and family
      • Figure 28: Audio streaming behaviors, by types of audio streaming content, August 2020
    • Younger women most likely to skip past ads when possible
      • Figure 29: Audio streaming behaviors – skipping ads, by gender and age, August 2020
  16. Types of Music Streaming Services Used

    • Market skews toward ad-supported usage
      • Figure 30: Types of music streaming services used, August 2020
    • Men slightly more likely to pay for music streaming services
      • Figure 31: Types of music streaming services used, by gender and age, August 2020
      • Figure 32: Breakout of gender and age, by types of music streaming services used, August 2020
  17. Music Streaming Services Used

    • YouTube Music, Spotify and Pandora lead free service use
      • Figure 33: Free and paid music streaming services used, August 2020
    • Men more likely to use all other audio streaming platforms except Pandora
      • Figure 34: Free audio streaming services used, by gender, August 2020
    • Apple Music is the lone service that attracts more paid women listeners than men
      • Figure 35: Paid streaming services used, August 2020
  18. Podcast Genres

    • Comedy and news/current events top podcast genres among listeners
      • Figure 36: Podcast genres, August 2020
      • Figure 37: TURF Analysis – Podcast categories, August 2020
    • Consumers 45+ stick with news and politics
      • Figure 38: Podcast genres, by age, August 2020
    • Stereotypes ring true for podcasts – men go for sports, women go for true crime
      • Figure 39: Podcast genres – sports and true crime, by gender, August 2020
  19. Price of the Ideal Audio Streaming Service

    • Current audio streamers more price conscious when it comes to the “ideal streaming service”
      • Figure 40: Price sensitivity analysis of the ideal audio streaming service, August 2020
    • Overall price point for “ideal” service among all consumers is $11/month
      • Figure 41: Price sensitivity – optimal price, August 2020
    • Current audio streamers indicate the ideal service is worth $10/month
      • Figure 42: Price sensitivity – optimal price, by audio streamers, August 2020
  20. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Direct marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  21. Appendix – Price Sensitivity Analysis

      • Figure 43: Price sensitivity – threshold prices, by all consumers, August 2020
      • Figure 44: Price sensitivity – Price Sensitivity aggregate table, by all consumers, August 2020
      • Figure 45: Price sensitivity – threshold prices, by audio streamers, August 2020
      • Figure 46: Price sensitivity – Price Sensitivity aggregate table, by audio streamers, August 2020
  22. Appendix – Mintel Trend Drivers

      • Figure 47: Mintel Consumer Trend Drivers and Pillars

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

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