Music Market Research

Music Services Company iMusicRain Finds That Two out of Five American Consumers Unsatisfied with Industry’s Output

According to a new study by music services company iMusicRain, the state of the music industry is in need of repair, with consumer satisfaction for commercially available music today – the type you might hear on the radio or produced for mass consumption – precipitously low.

In fact, more than two out of five (44%) American consumers are unsatisfied with commercially available music today, and many of those who may at first appear to claim they are satisfied, are, in reality, satisfied by the fact that technology exists that allows them to escape the mainstream via downloads and streaming services.

There are large swaths of consumers who are telling us that they are simply unhappy with today’s commercially available music.

“We’re seeing it across the board,” says Yurina Shin, creative director at iMusicRain and the lead author of the study. “There are large swaths of consumers who are telling us that they are simply unhappy with today’s commercially available music. Many are turning to downloads and streaming services to find the music they like – be it indie bands, obscure genres or songs from decades past.”

What’s more, most consumers expect things to stay the same – at least in the near term.

According to Shin, two thirds (64%) of consumers believe that the music coming out over the next 6 months will hold just about the same appeal as today’s music does, while 20% feel it will be less appealing to them – just 16% expect music to improve and become more appealing.

“While perhaps obvious,” says Shin, “publishing appealing music is crucial to improving sales numbers. In fact, the consumers most likely to say they are planning on increasing their spending on music are the same consumers who expect the commercial music scene to improve.”

Most of the consumers polled expected their spending on music products to remain the same over the next two quarters. Those most likely to increase their spending are also those with the most positive outlook on commercial music. Those planning to increase their spending expect to spend approximately 25% more on music products, while those planning on scaling back expect to cut their spending by around 30%.

Encapsulating the Health of the Music Industry

While many factors go into gauging the health of the music industry, the iMusicRain team has developed a new metric that encapsulates all those factors into one number. The State of the Music Industry index, which had a reading of 51.9 in March, measures consumer satisfaction, planned spending and levels of appeal with respect to the music being released today.

The composite score ranges from zero to 100, with scores above 50 indicating a healthy state and scores below 50 indicating an unhealthy state for the industry.

“We’ll be publishing the State of the Music Industry index every month,” says Shin. “We hope to see this important metric climb over time, which would signal a healthier, fresher and more creative, music industry.“

For more information about this study or the State of the Music Industry index, please send an email to music(at)imusicrain(dot)com.

About the State of the Music Industry Index (SOMI Index)
The State of the Music Industry Index is the first metric of its kind that provides a comprehensive and easily digestible view of the health of the music industry and evolving trends within the greater music landscape. Developed my iMusicRain (http://www.imusicrain.com), the index is based on a monthly survey of adult American consumers. Going forward, the index will be released on a monthly basis.

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iMusicRain's State of the Music Industry Index Dips 3% in May
Technology, Evolving Consumer Perceptions Driving Satisfaction with Music Industry

iMusicRain's State of the Music Industry Index (SOMI) fell 3.2% in May, coming in at 56.5. That's 1.9 points below last month's reading of 58.4, but still well above March's inaugural reading of 51.9.

According to iMusicRain, a music services and consulting company, the index ranges from zero to 100 and consists of 3 components designed to gauge the health of the music industry. Readings falling below 50 indicate an unhealthy state, while those above 50 indicate a healthy state.

According to Yurina Shin, iMusicRain's creative director, the components measure how consumers expect music to evolve as it relates to their tastes and preferences, their level of satisfaction with the music being published today, as well as their planned spending on music products.

In May, 78% of consumers indicated some level of satisfaction with the music being published today, while 22% were dissatisfied.

“Looking towards the future,” says Shin, “one out of six (17%) consumers expect the industry's output to become more appealing to them as time goes on, while 24% are pessimistic, expecting music to become less appealing; 59% expect things to stay the same.”

A common theme tends to run through the responses of those who expect music to get worse, as typified by comments such as these:

"All the music on the radio sounds exactly the same - it is mass produced."

"I think that the state of popular music is in decline. Every song on the radio sounds the same and I can't even differentiate the artists anymore.”

"This is a very persistent complaint we are hearing from consumers," says Shin. "While it may be too early to tell, since March we've found a consistent block of consumers who feel modern music is heading downhill."

In March, 20% expected music to become less appealing, while 21% and 24% felt that way in April and May, respectively.

Is Consumer Satisfaction Buoyed by Technology?

If one out of four consumers think music is heading in the wrong direction, and if nearly two thirds expect things to stay the same, one might rightly ask what is holding up consumers’ overall level of satisfaction.

“Many consumers are quite satisfied with the music being produced today,” says Shin. “And even those who are not totally satisfied encounter at least a few songs each year that are literally, music to their ears.”

This much is evident in music sales data. However, the modern music landscape is not just about artists and the songs they produce.

It’s also very much about technology, and the ability we now have to completely personalize our music experience.

“Technology has made it easy for consumers to find what they like, and listen to what they want, anytime, anywhere and on multiple devices” says Shin. “This is causing a fundamental shift in how consumers view the music industry, and subsequently, how they respond to inquiries regarding their satisfaction.”

What’s more, consumers have greater access to independent and less commercially known artists than ever before, further driving satisfaction. Tellingly, a large number of those who indicated they were satisfied with today’s music also pointed to their ability to customize their music experience.

“I have access to a vast array of music these days. Music is easier to purchase and there is a great deal of music that can be listened to for free using streaming services online.”

“I am very satisfied with the music currently available today, as it spans a multitude of genres and includes many of my favorite artists and songs.”

Indeed, music is no longer just about listening to the radio for your favorite song. New players have entered the market, fundamentally transforming it and the way consumers interact with music.

“Take the case of Apple,” says Shin. “A little over a decade ago Apple would have been viewed as a trailing contender for market share in the computer world. Today Apple is considered a key player in the ‘music industry.’”

Dollars and Cents

In May, 17% of consumers said that they planned on spending more money on music products, while 11% expected to trim their budgets. Seventy two percent (72%) expected their level of spending to remain the same. Men were more likely to plan hikes in music spending, as were younger consumers, and those aged 45 to 54.

For more information about this study or the State of the Music Industry index, please send an email to music(at)imusicrain(dot)com. The next installment of this ongoing study will be available in June.

About the State of the Music Industry Index (SOMI Index)
The State of the Music Industry Index is the first metric of its kind that provides a comprehensive and easily digestible view of the health of the music industry and evolving trends within the greater music landscape. Developed by iMusicRain (http://www.imusicrain.com), the index is based on a monthly survey of adult American consumers. The index is typically published within the first 2 weeks of each month.