As YouTube sits in the uncomfortable position of being absolutely loved by the general public, while also being accused by media labels of being an engine for piracy
, while also
being used by those same labels to try to get free money
off the backs of their signed artists, we have long said that it can also serve as an amazing promotional tool to help new artists get discovered. And, as the next generation of music fans move into their teens, one study appears to demonstrate that point.
Via CNN, we learn that the new Nielson Music 360 report
has found that YouTube is the primary method for discovering new music
amongst teenagers today. While it may not be any great surprise that kids use the free service to find and/or listen to music, I think the report includes a couple of important notes worth elaborating upon. First, take a look at the difference between the generations of music fans:
Among all adults, radio remains the most popular tool, with 48 percent saying that's how they usually discover their new jams. But more teens, 64 percent, cited YouTube, the Web's leading video-sharing site, as a place where they listen to music. Followed by radio (56%), iTunes (53% ) and CDs (50%).
The popularity of YouTube is dramatically higher among teens than all adults. Only 7 percent of all respondents said they discover music most frequently through the site.
Again, probably not the kind of statistics you'd exactly consider jaw-dropping. But let's think about this for a moment. If the jump between those that utilize evil YouTube the most to discover new music (for which they'll potentially buy either music, concert tickets, etc.) is from 7% of the total population and 64% of the teenage population, that indicates to me that the real transition in how we discover new music as an entire population has only just begun. And, if the music labels want to continue to fight against YouTube rather than utilize it, they appear to be ill-prepared for what is a statistical tidal wave that these teenagers will represent when they become paying adults and have children of their own. Failing to embrace YouTube as a promotional tool and fighting against that kind of tsunami is akin to...well...fighting against a friggin' tsunami!
From the CNN article we also learn this:
Strangely, the report doesn't address teens' listening habits on music-streaming sites such as Pandora, Spotify or Grooveshark.
And that's a mistake. If YouTube is the trend for this generation of teenagers, there is a very real likelihood that the next trend is going to be either those music-streaming sites, or others very much like it. That is, of course, if the music labels don't continue to try to kill them as well.
But the point remains: people will use new internet services to discover new music. This represents a boon for music as a whole, and could represent the same for the major labels, but only if they stop fighting the tide and instead ride the wave.