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Yes, social media is still king for Gen Z but their media consumption is changing

Audio streaming is a technology that allows the steaming of audio files, such as music or podcasts to your computer over the internet. It has been booming over the past three years and continues to show an upward trajectory both in terms of listeners and creators – the appetite is there but why? We’ve looked at it from a Gen Z listener’s perspective…

Isolation has affected lots of people over the pandemic and young people have been cut off from their usual social circles and education formats. Listening to others having conversations about shared passion points on a podcast, for many, has felt like being part of a conversation with a friendship group. Familiar voices, jokes, and hearing about people’s lives are all part of the social interactions many have on a day-to-day basis, that in part replace those daily interactions that most people longed for.

Audio streaming is also one of the only mediums that can be done whilst multitasking, whether that’s doing exercise, nipping to the shops, traveling, or even just relaxing. It makes the ability to consume content a lot easier than that of TV.

Of course, audio streaming isn’t just interviews but music as well. Soundcloud (a rival of Spotify which is aimed at electronic music artists) recently reported a 53% increase YOY and record revenues, which has been bolstered by an increase in users, and subscriptions, diversifying their offering and opening up to commercial revenue streams.

What about from the creator’s perspective?

Commercial revenue is key for creators and brands, especially those that have a large following. Companies such as Acast have enabled producers to increase their production values, they also offer services that support users in growing their listener bases whilst giving creators of all sizes access to commercial revenue in the form of advertising.

Nowadays there are more creators and even more ways to access different platforms. Whether it be podcasts, an hour-long DJ set, or producing your own music, there is a way for everyone to share their work and at an extremely low-cost way of interacting with users. At its most basic form podcasts and creators can produce content on a smartphone and with innovation and technology changing at such a rapid pace, this is only going to make accessibility to the masses even easier.

53% of our community polled reported preferring audio streaming to watching TV

Soundcloud is open to anyone wishing to share their music and on average adds 3 million creators every year. Spotify has announced its expansion into podcasts with the marquee signing of Joe Rogan who hosts the most popular podcast out there. With DJs unable to play at live events over the pandemic, most pivoted to alternative sources to interact with their fan base, many using the streaming platform Twitch.

Of our Gen Z community, 50% listen to one or more podcasts on a regular basis and 65% prefer podcasts to the radio. For some Gen Z, radio is viewed as more of an entertainment channel as opposed to being an informative one. This could be given the average age of listeners on stations like BBC Radio 1xtra and BBC Radio 1, whose main offering is music and entertainment.

Easy to access and easy to share

You don’t need a smart TV, a boxset, cable, or a satellite, just a smartphone, which can also double as your device to share with friends and family for interesting content. Quite a few of the traditional media channels have capitalised on this, with newspaper brands and even TV companies producing new, and repurposing existing content, for an audio-streaming audience as they look to grow their brand footprint.

In a way it is sales perpetuating, the increase in listeners is intrinsically linked with commercial revenue individuals and brands can make. In turn, more people will create content for niches which in turn gives a greater range of offering to the listener.

We know Gen Z like to be listened to, and now it appears that they are also listening in mass volume. If your brand doesn’t have a presence on audio streaming platforms, maybe it’s time you explored its potential.

Authored by Steve Tapp, Partnerships Manager at Imagen Insights