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How Music-Listening Habits Are Changing

Americans are listening to as much music as they were last year, but online listening and listening through cellphones accounted for a greater share of music-listening time, Nielsen reported in its fourth annual study of U.S. music listeners.

The study found that 91 percent of the U.S. population listens to music and spends more than 24 hours each week listening, “roughly” matching year-ago listening levels, Nielsen said.

A total of 75 percent of Americans, however, listened to music online in a typical week, up almost 12 percentage points from the year-ago study. And they’re streaming more songs on demand. Americans streamed more than 164 billion on-demand tracks across audio and video platforms in all of 2014 but streamed 135 billion on-demand songs in the first half of 2015 alone, Nielsen said. That’s up more than 90 percent from the year-ago period.

Listening through smartphones is also up. Forty-four percent said they used a smartphone to listen to music in a typical week, up by 7 percentage points from the previous survey. Consumers are listening less often to music on computers, Nielsen noted.

When selecting a music-streaming service, more than eight of 10 respondents cited cost and ease of use as the most important factors, followed by more than 70 percent who said the service’s song library is important.

The most commonly cited reason for not subscribing to a service is price and the realization that music can be streamed for free, Nielsen said. Nonetheless, about 9 percent of the people not currently paying for a streaming service indicate they are likely to subscribe in the next six months, Nielsen noted.

In other findings, Nielsen found growing attendance at live music events. Twelve percent of respondents said they discover music through live events, up more than 70 percent from last year, Nielsen said. Americans now spend more than one-half of music-related expenditures on live events each year, and 50 percent said they attended a live event in the past year.

Eleven percent of Americans said they attended a music festival in the past 12 months, with millennials accounting for 44 percent of all festival goers.

Data for the report, Nielsen Music 360 2015, was collected July 18 to August 3 from 3,305 respondents. Data was weighted to the U.S census population based on age, gender, race, education and household size.

The study looked at who music fans are, when and where they are consuming content, and what brands, devices and services they use.