Skip to content
News Center >

Music Discovery Still Dominated by Radio, Says Nielsen Music 360 Report

4 minute read | August 2012

More Teens Listen to Music Through YouTube Than Any Other Source

Nielsen’s “Music 360” Report Offers Comprehensive Insights on all Aspects of Music Interaction

NEW YORK—August 14, 2012—Radio is still the dominant way people discover music (48%) – followed by tips from friends/relatives (10%), and YouTube (7%), but more teens listen to music through YouTube than through any other source (64%) — followed by radio (56%) and iTunes (53% ) and CDs (50%) – according to results from a comprehensive, in-depth Nielsen study of consumer interaction with music in the United States, the Music 360.   The new Nielsen report offers insights on all aspects of music consumption including listening and purchasing behaviors; music discovery; live events; the use of social networking and mobile music apps; as well as how the economy is affecting music sales.

“The accessibility of music has seen tremendous expansion and diversification,” said David Bakula, SVP Client Development, Nielsen.   “While younger listeners opt for technologically advanced methods , traditional methods of discovery like radio and word-of-mouth continue to be strong drivers.  With so many ways to purchase, consume and discover great new music, it’s no wonder that the consumer continues to access and enjoy music in greater numbers.”

The following is a small sampling of insights included in the Music 360 report:

Radio is still the dominant way people discover music

More teens listen to music through YouTube than through any other source

Positive recommendations from a friend are most likely to influence purchase decisions

Music player apps are most prevalent, followed by radio and music store apps

Males purchase rock music most often, while females prefer top 40

Digital music is seen as a slightly better value than a physical CD

Younger consumers who do buy digital tracks, are more likely to purchase new music immediately after its release

36% of teens have bought a CD in the last year; 51% of teens have purchased some kind of music download

18-24 year olds are most likely to attend a music event (among those who attend any type of live event)

Although 18-24 year olds attend more live events, teens are more likely to purchase T-shirts and posters while there.

Listeners enjoy hearing movie soundtracks over music related TV shows or video games

Older consumers have decreased their spending the most during the current economy

Data for Music 360 were collected via 3,000 online consumer surveys using Nielsen’s proprietary, high-quality ePanel in the United States.  Topics addressed in this study include:  where/when music is consumed, through which device(s), apps and services; digital vs. physical purchases;  the process of discovery, and how/when discovery converts to purchase; insights around spending, share of wallet, and retailer preferences; live events; and much more.

Nielsen is releasing a complimentary, high-level overview report to labels, distributors, retailers, advertisers, and agencies to stimulate discussion.  For custom requests for further information from the underlying data in the report, call 646-654-5606 or send an email to

ABOUT NIELSEN Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit