Ninety percent of US internet users stream music – more than ever

A newly released study says that around 90% of internet users in the US regularly stream music online. More than half of all Americans pay for an audio service as well.

MusicWatch, an industry consultancy, has published a comprehensive overview of audio and music purchasing and listening in the US. If the fact that the music streaming business is growing is not surprising, some findings are unexpected.

The number of paid music subscribers in the country hit a record 109 million in 2023. If SiriusXM and Amazon Prime music listeners are included, the number reaches 136 million, and that means that over half the population is paying for an audio subscription.

What’s more, the study says there is potential for additional subscription growth, even though, for instance, seven out of ten Millennials already pay to subscribe.

That’s because GenZ is yet to be moved from free to paid services en masse, and companies will try to convert the older and more resistant demographic.

“The top reason for music streaming is the ability to listen to music anyplace and anywhere. Connectivity resonated as a key theme motivating subscribers,” says MusicWatch, adding that “the Walkman dream” has been realized.

The study also found that recorded music spending in the US had spiked by 7% year over year during 2023, when a substantial 80% of music streamers are said to have “regularly” listened “to audio categories besides music.”

In total, the US recorded music category added 10 million “buyers” in 2023. They include people who purchase or pay for CDs, vinyl records, digital downloads, or music streaming subscriptions.

Almost all US internet users are streaming music. Courtesy of MusicWatch.

Speaking of vinyls, it seems they’ve found a niche and are consistently staying there. Nearly nine out of ten vinyl buyers plan to buy more or the same number of records in 2024.

HipHop has now passed Classic Rock as America’s favorite music genre but 80% of streamers also regularly listen to audio categories besides music. Comedy, current events, and podcasts closely compete for the second spot.

Surprisingly, music on broadcast radio, while not the powerhouse it once was, gained listeners in 2023 and continues to be the number one in-car listening option used by 69% of in-car listeners.

Finally, at least in the US, “pirate ships are sinking,” MusicWatch says. Music piracy continues to dampen, with fewer overall users getting files from mobile apps, stream ripping, file transfers, and P2P networks. The sharing of streaming accounts is also in decline.

However, even if the fans are happy, the artists have more than a few reasons for complaint. Not only the use of AI in creating music, but also musicians around the world saying that they weren’t happy with Spotify’s new royalty scheme.