The streaming era creates its own superstars and music genres, such as bedroom pop. This particular style focuses on pop music that is written and produced by independent musicians largely in their bedrooms. Interestingly, bedroom pop has been attracting millions of listeners around the world, largely by listeners under the age of 25. In fact, we have a name for this group of audiences under the age of 25: Generation Z, or Gen Z for short.
Gen Z and their music listening habits are under the microscope as the streaming era already created its own superstars. In this blog post, I aggregated five defining characteristics of Gen Z when it comes to their music listening habits. As an artist, the majority of your fanbase may or may not be Gen Z audiences. Either way, they are the future of the music industry and it would not be a bad idea to tune in to their interests and habits to understand which direction the music industry and the world are headed to.
Moreover, it would be fair to say that social media and new technologies have amplified the voice of Generation Z. These factors are changing the music industry’s listening habits. So, here are four ways Gen Z is changing the music industry’s listening habits:
1. Gen Z listens to more sad music than ever
A defining characteristic of Generation Z is that they are in tune with their emotions. They are vocal about how they feel. Consequently, there is a large increase in the amount of ‘sadness’ and ‘loneliness’ themed songs and playlists being listened to across various platforms. This trend not only stays within a niche audience but also carries over to mainstream music. In fact, a search will show that there are more sad songs in the Top 40 charts today than there has ever been.
2. They listen to music from all over the world
When it comes to their music choices, Gen Z listeners do not just listen to music from their home countries. Instead, they listen to more music from other cultures and countries. As an example, the recent increase in the K-Pop streaming data can be largely explained by the huge Gen Z audience that follows this music style.
3. They discover music through online communities
An interesting characteristic of Gen Z listeners is that they usually discover their music through word of mouth, social media, or algorithm recommendations. For instance, when you look at comments under certain videos, you will notice comments such as “Came here from X”. This X can be a social media channel, a TV show, or an influencer. This social media driven form of discovery is very common for Gen Z listeners. They prefer this mode of discovery rather than having music being pushed out to them from a single source. Additionally, Gen Z listeners also regularly use their friend’s recommendations or streaming platforms’ algorithm recommendations to discover new music.
4. Gen Z listeners prefer playlists over albums
An inevitable result of streaming is the rise of playlists over albums, and Gen Z is not immune to it. Their listening habits are curated by various playlists featuring different moods and experiences, such as “Chill,” “Gym,” “Sleep,” “Study,” “Moody,” etc. Most of the time, listeners will play two or three songs from a playlist, rather than the full release. This has pushed artists to move away from making albums and focus more on single and EP releases. The creation of smaller packages also helps artists concentrate on specific themes and styles, rather than larger concept albums.
To sum up, Gen Z, which is the generation born between 1998-2012 is changing the world today. The music industry is not immune to this change. Gen Z audiences are informed, they value the cultures of others, they are certainly thinking very internationally, they are socially aware, and individually they are in tune with themselves. In this way, they are exemplary to the rest of humanity and hopeful that such a brilliant new generation is leading the way to make the music industry and the world a better place.