The latest research into the media habits of New Zealanders make for gloomy reading for music companies specialising in physical formats. However, it also shows that some old school media platforms across the Tasman are holding up reasonably well in spite of the streaming revolution.
The “Where Are The Audiences?” study is the third to be commissioned by the Government agency NZ On Air, which provides funding for local content on television and radio, along with financial support for recording and promoting local music. Produced by Glasshouse Consulting, the report follows on from similar research in 2014 and 2016, and involved questioning more than 1,400 Kiwis about their daily and weekly media use across a range of platforms.
The study’s author Jeremy Todd described the changes in music consumption in New Zealand as a “revolution”. According to the study, just under 40 percent of New Zealanders were likely to be streaming music on a daily basis, with most of that growth being generated by the rise and rise of Spotify.
The streaming platform has now overtaken YouTube as the No. 1 source of streamed music in New Zealand, reaching 23 percent of listeners on a daily basis and a third of all Kiwis over a week. New Zealanders were also spending more time in listening to music, with music users averaging around 140 minutes a day on one of the streaming platforms, an increase of 27 percent on the 2016 figure. All told, music streaming is delivering NZ’s fifth biggest daily media audience.
The downside for the music industry is that physical formats – CD, vinyl and digital downloads – continue to decline in popularity. The daily reach of the formats have halved since 2014, with just one in five New Zealanders opting for the more traditional ways to listen to music.
According to the report, it is younger music users — those under 40 — who are dropping out more rapidly from the physical format and this change in behaviour represented a direct substitution of one media channel for another; the time people spent listening to CD, vinyl and downloads was also falling, whereas streamed music consumption continued to grow.
Interestingly, though, NZ commercial radio looks to have weathered the digital storm reasonably well. The report shows that 55 percent of New Zealanders tuned into radio each day, down slightly on the 2016 data, but still enough to deliver the country’s second biggest media audience. And although audiences have fallen, the time spent listening has only dipped slightly, suggesting that radio has mainly lost people who were light users in the first player.
The NZ On Air research also shows that airplay is as important as ever in launching new acts. Around 60 percent of New Zealanders rely on radio or word of mouth to learn about new music, compared with 50 percent for streaming platforms.
Outside of music, Subscription Video on Demand is the fastest growing sector of the NZ media environment, although television still delivers the biggest audiences.
As Todd notes: “Despite rapid and on-going changes in behaviour, the biggest daily audiences are still to be found on the traditional broadcasting media.”
Other interesting tidbits from the report include:
• 46 percent of 15-24 year-olds listen to Spotify at least once a day, with 34 percent of that demographic accessing YouTube for music
• 49 percent of people aged 65 and old have never listened to a music streaming service
• Apple Music is the second most popular streaming platform (22 percent), although Soundcloud has seen greater growth in the last two years (up from 16 to 18 percent).
• 34 percent of New Zealanders admit to having illegally downloaded songs or albums from the internet, up slightly from 30 percent in 2016.
• Online music magazines, blogs and podcasts are growing in importance, with 11 percent of users discovering new music via these platforms, compared with 8 percent in 2016.