The first half of 2020 was an intense whirlwind, but one that “clarified and in some ways accelerated cultural trends that Gen Zs and millennials have been shaping for years,” Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s Chief Content & Advertising Business Officer, says.
Ostroff and the audio-streaming platform released “Culture Next” this morning, a new survey of 5,000 people and educational report of generational trends. When focusing on sound, the researchers found that 73 percent of American Gen Zs (ages 15 to 25) and millennials (ages 26 to 40) use audio to cope with stress and anxiety. The majority of these U.S. teens and young adults also signaled out the following qualities as the ones that make sound more powerful to them: “emotional,” “therapeutic,” and “personal.” Beyond music, one in four shared that they listen to mental health-related podcasts.
And 54 percent of American Gen Zs said they’ve begun to listen to podcasts more often to say informed and entertained.
In creating podcasts and other content, Spotify says in its report, creators and brands need to know their audience. Politics and civil rights, for example, are currently top of mind. Between January and August. the percentage of Gen Zs aged 18-25 planning to vote in the upcoming election increased from 65 to 72 percent. (In 2016, Spotify says, this demographic’s turnout was closer to 50 percent.) Spotify also found that 71 percent of the Gen Zs surveyed care more about “moving forward” than about aligning with a political party, which suggests young people are more interested in policies than politicians; 93 percent also chose “purpose” over “politics” when examining what they want to see out of brands, and 66 percent considered the current political systems to be corrupt and outdated. Additionally, 83 percent of U.S. respondents saw the Black Lives Matter movement as a “cultural wake-up call,” with some saying they have turned to black-hosted podcasts for education and black-music playlists to support black businesses.
In political matters, young people often diverge dramatically from their elders. (Pew Research already noted last year that 30 percent of Gen Zs approve of the way Donald Trump is leading the country, compared to 43 percent of Boomers and 54 percent of Silents.) But Spotify claims that audio content helps people from different generations connect: 64 percent of global Gen Zs and millennials in the survey say they believe listening to their parents’ music gives them “a better sense of who their parents are,” and 78 percent of the parents surveyed admitted to using music as a way to bond with their children.
The younger generations are also intrigued by entrepreneurship and DIY culture, as well as global citizenship. On a worldwide scale, 65 percent of Gen Zs said they plan to be, or already are, their own boss. And in July, surveyors found that 50 percent see the pandemic as inspiration to start their own business. Globally, one in three Gen Zs aged 17 and under said they’d prefer to start a business instead of going to college.
Gen Zs and millennials also care deeply about connecting with other cultures — a concept which was far less attainable pre-streaming services when the industry was not nearly as global as it is today. 80 percent said music streaming services offer a gateway to other cultures. Moreover, 69 percent support the idea of finding a sense of community through music.
There’s even a demand for more diversity within the actual tech that Gen Zs and millennials use. 62 percent of respondents said they’d prefer being able to choose the gender and accent of their smart device’s artificial voice.
To come to these findings, Spotify partnered with research agencies Culture Co-op, b3 Intelligence and Lucid. Surveyors touched base with their subjects in fall/winter, covering the end of 2019 and the top of 2020, and summer 2020 — specifically July and August. The markets surveyed were Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States. Dawn Ostroff, who was also a driving force behind Spotify’s involvement in USC’s Annenberg report on music’s gender gap, spearheaded the initiative.
“We’ve given you plenty of stats to digest, but there’s one more we couldn’t resist sharing,” Ostroff wrote. “80% of Americans we surveyed in July told us they remain hopeful that this difficult time will bring change for the better.” And on Spotify’s part, she added, understanding those cultural shifts is “integral to our work of connecting the world through audio.”