Spotify’s ‘Culture Next’ Report Reveals How Young People Built Culture Back During COVID-19

Spotify’s ‘Culture Next’ Report Reveals How Young People Built Culture Back During COVID-19
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Spotify has officially dropped the third volume of Culture Next, its annual culture & trends report.

This year’s report explores how Gen Zs and millennials are navigating a common challenge – rebuilding culture from the ground up as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to upend our idea of “normalcy and the ongoing global movement for social justice ” – and the role of digital audio in their lives as they drive us forward.

Culture Next is designed to give advertisers an inside look into what inspires and motivates millennials and Gen Z, the differences and commonalities in how they’re engaging with and driving culture, and the best ways for marketers to use digital audio to thoughtfully connect with them.

As 71 per cent of Spotify Free listeners globally are under the age of 35 and the median age of its podcast listeners is 27 (March 2021), Spotify is the go-to authority on how Gen Z and millennial audiences are consuming, curating, and creating digital audio content.

The report was assembled through dozens of interviews with listeners, creators, and advertising execs. Using a combination of qualitative, quantitative, and first-party data analysis, Spotify has identified the most influential trends shaping the future of audio and advertising.

Key Australian findings include that:

  • 44 per cent of millennials and 48 per cent of Gen Zs believe that they have become part of a global community because of either music or podcasts
  • 65 per cent of both millennials and Gen Zs believe that streaming platforms at-large, including audio, have significantly shaped how they discover and connect with broader culture
  • 56 per cent of millennials and 53 per cent of Gen Zs have used music as a way to learn about cultures and experiences that differ from their own
  • 66 per cent of millenials and 63 per cent of Gen Zs believe they’re building a ‘better normal’ out of the pandemic
  • 76 per cent of both millennials and Gen Zs  agree that they use audio to reduce their stress levels.
  • 75 per cent of Australian millennials see audio as a mental health resource while 76 per cent of Australian Gen Zs believe audio is healing
  • 39 per cent of millennials and Gen Zs ranked their trust in podcasts higher than their average trust in traditional media sources, including national TV news, newspapers, and radio
  • 60 per cent of millennials and 58 per cent of Gen Zs agreed that podcast hosts “sometimes feel like a friend”
  • According to Spotify data, average podcast listenership in Australian increased 61 per cent among millennials and 51 per cent among Gen Zs.

For Gen Z’s, podcast on mental health saw a 191 per cent increase in listening, while those on self-hope increased by 84 per cent, and on spirituality increased 65 per cent.

Similar numbers appeared among millenials, with a 208 per cent increase in listening on mental health, 84 per cent for self-help and 76 per cent for spirituality.

Globally, Spotify has also released the most listened to songs between Gen Z’s and millenials. ‘drivers license’ by Olivia Rodrigo was the most listened to song for both generations.

Also in the top five for Gen Z were ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’ by Lil Nas X, ‘good 4 u’ by Olivia Rodrigo, ‘Astronaut In The Ocean’ by Masked Wolf and ‘Peaches (feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon)’ by Justin Bieber in order.

For millenials, the list went: ‘Peaches (feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon)’ by Justin Bieber, ‘DÁKITI’ by Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez, ‘Levitating (feat. DaBaby)’ DaBaby, Dua Lipa and ‘Blinding Lights’ by The Weeknd.

In the report, Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content & advertising business officer reflected that, “if 2020 was a ‘cultural wake-up call’, as our Culture Next research found last year, 2021 is shaping up to be a cultural rebirth.”

“It’s been quite a year for Gen Z, a generation now on the edge of newfound independence. With traditional markers of adulthood (like hanging out with friends unsupervised, attending college in person, or starting their first post-grad jobs) on pause, Zs are eager to leave virtual events behind and resume IRL experiences.”

66 per cent of Gen Z’s surveyed said that audio had helped them to feel less alone over the past year.

“Millennials, meanwhile, faced a different set of challenges,” reflected Ostroff.

“As this generation advances in their careers and starts families of their own, the pandemic has shaken up their expectations of work-life balance. Audio has emerged as the go-to source for millennials to connect with family, stay informed, and indulge in ‘me time’.”

“There are commonalities between millennials and Zs that came to light in our research too. Both generations are pushing for a more inclusive, multi-faceted culture. Millennials and Gen Zs agreed that as a culture, we’re more open to hearing from diverse voices than ever before: 53 per cent said they’ve sought more content from more diverse creators and podcasts in the past year.”

Culture Next was created by surveying 9,000 Gen Z and millennial respondents in April 2021, totalling 500 respondents per market — 18 markets in total: United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Japan, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Malaysia.

Spotify also partnered with youth culture agency Archrival to conduct Zoom focus groups, 40 in-depth interviews, and a dozen ethnographies, ultimately directly speaking to more than four dozen respondents in 16 markets – the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Japan, Australia, the United Arab Emirates

* Spotify First Party Data, Q1 2021 vs. Q1 2020

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