This guest column was originally published by Billboard on 6/15/21
MusicWatch’s latest project on music discovery surveyed 1000 music listeners in the US, covering their music listening habits and topics around the discovery experience.
For generations, radio, retail and recommendations drove music discovery. These “3 R’s” helped to create awareness of new music; curated by DJ’s, record store staff and our closest friends. By the late aughts the discovery scene began to shift, with digital downloads and nascent streaming models taking a greater role, CD sales waning, and increasing emphasis on re-discovery of catalog music.
Fifteen years ago MusicWatch collaborated with MusicBiz (then NARM) on a comprehensive study devoted to understanding music discovery. Broadcast radio was the top source of music discovery. We implored retailers to maintain CD selection and to segment their music customers more effectively in the face of emerging digital models. MusicWatch’s most recent project on music discovery, conducted during May 2021 in collaboration with DiMA and A2IM, surveyed 1000 music listeners in the US, covering their music listening habits and topics around the discovery experience.
We learned that, from a fan perspective, music discovery has never been stronger. More touchpoints are available to fans for music discovery, and they are using them. They believe that streaming and social media have improved discovery. Discovery is more diverse; with appetite for new and catalog songs, and new and familiar artists. Fans are activating like never before, re-listening to newly found music, and diving deeper to make a connection with the artist. Dynamic features of the music services lubricate the discovery process.