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NARM and The NPD Group Unveil Results of Research Report on Consumers and Music Discovery

According to the report, music consumers can be broken into five segments: “Committed,” “Convert,” “Comfortable,” “Casual,” and “Content.” “Committed” consumers are the youngest group, with a mean age of 32 (20 percent are age 13 to 17; 42 percent are 18 to 35). They represent 10 percent of all consumers who listened to or purchased music within the prior three months. “Committed” consumers also account for 46 percent of per-capita spending on music, and they are the most engaged consumers in the report. While they use a variety of discovery sources – including radio, video, streaming, and movies – they also value ownership, and they are the most open to discovering new artists. They find their current means to discover new music is good, but still wonder if they are missing something.

“Converts,” who make up 30 percent of musically active consumers and account for 34 percent of per-capita spending, are the second youngest group, with a mean age of 34 (13 percent teens; 23 percent are 18 to 25 years old). They also listen to music in a variety of ways and are more likely than the average consumer to purchase CDs or digital downloads. They are generally satisfied with their means of music discovery, but they would still consider other options.

Those in the “Comfortable” group make up 30 percent of musically active consumers and account for 15 percent of per-capita spending on music. With a mean age of 50, they are considered the mainstream segment. These individuals mostly listen to music on CD or on AM/FM radio, and they prefer to discover new music from familiar artists. They also rely primarily on television and radio to find new music, and they feel those methods are adequate for their needs; they are not interested in new ways to discover music.

“Casual” listeners, who make up 14 percent of musically active listeners and account for 3 percent of per-capita music spending, have a mean age of 43. They are also lighter listeners than average, they rarely buy music, and they have low interest in digital sources and discovery.

The “Content” group, which make up 11 percent of musically active consumers and account for 2 percent of per-capita music spending, have a mean age of 55. They are the lightest buyers and listeners, and while they periodically buy CDs, they do not find current music engaging.

Discovery Tools
The study found that television has emerged as the second-most influential tool for music discovery, with 49 percent of musically active consumers citing it as a top influence. Television is particularly effective for targeting the mainstream “Comfortable” group, as well as women and brick-and-mortar store shoppers. Awards shows, music videos, competition shows, daytime TV, and serial shows are the programs most likely to be effective for music discovery.

Television was trumped only by AM/FM radio, the most important tool for music discovery, with 60 percent of musically active consumers citing it as a top influence; however, most of those who cited radio also reported they would wait to hear a new song again, rather than purchase the track. This finding suggests a need for more back announcing, since three out of four of those who said they would wait also said they would shop more if there were more announcements revealing artist names and track titles.

While radio and TV were the clear-cut top traditional choices for music discovery, Internet music-discovery options are much more fragmented. Shazam and other song-ID apps, as well as other mobile/tablet apps, are most likely to lead to high-value actions, like paying for a CD or digital download. Free online radio, video sites like YouTube and Vevo, and other emerging forms of influence are more likely to cause listeners to continue to stream songs, rather than buy them.

“Another leading way all consumer groups discovered music were recommendations from family, friends, and co-workers,” added Donio. “This study was completed before the announcement of Facebook’s music initiative, and we look forward to seeing how the more complete integration of music and social media will change consumer habits. Music discovery drives the success of the entire music-retail industry, and this intelligence about consumer behavior is critical, as we work to find the right combinations of options to help people find new music and make it a part of their lives.”

NPD conducted this study in August of this year, and the results are based on 3,771 completed online surveys. The full report is available to NARM members.

About NARM
Established in 1958, NARM (National Association of Recording Merchandisers) is the trade association for the business of music, providing the central platform for the discussion of industry‐wide concerns, spearheading the implementation of initiatives to promote music commerce, and advocating for common interests. Members include companies and individuals from all aspects of music distribution, including physical, digital, and mobile outlets as well as gaming, applications, merchandise, video and more. NARM members have access to a variety of conferences, virtual seminars, networking opportunities, information and education resources. NARM is a nonprofit organization based in Marlton, New Jersey. Visit us at

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,800 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food, home and office, sports, technology, toys, video games, and wireless. For more information, contact us, visit, or follow us Twitter at

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