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Covid-19 lockdowns hit Spotify music consumption: Study

The Covid-19 pandemic significantly reduced the consumption of audio music streaming service Spotify in many countries, contrary to anticipation that consumers would be more likely to listen to music at home.

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New Delhi Published on: August 05, 2021 14:50 IST
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Covid-19 lockdowns hit Spotify music consumption: Study

The Covid-19 pandemic significantly reduced the consumption of audio music streaming service Spotify in many countries, contrary to anticipation that consumers would be more likely to listen to music at home, according to a study.

The study, appearing in the journal Marketing Science, analysed streaming data from Spotify, one of the largest music streaming service providers, for weekly top 200 songs during 104 consecutive weeks between June 2018 and May 2020 in 60 countries.

In more than two-thirds of the countries that studied enforced lockdowns, music streaming volume declined significantly after the lockdowns took effect.

On average, audio music consumption decreased 12.5 per cent after the World Health Organisation's (WHO) pandemic declaration on March 11, 2020. As a result, during the pandemic, Spotify lost 692 million euros ($838 million) of revenue in the first three quarters of 2020.

Reductions in workers' commuting time correlated strongly with the decline in music consumption, the study found, indicating that restricted movement contributed to the shrinkage.

In fact, countries with larger decreases in mobility and transit time saw more marked reductions in music streaming after the pandemic.

Another factor driving consumption could be that people spent less money on music streaming during the pandemic, a time when many lost income.

"Our work is the first to gauge the impact of Covid-19 on digital streaming consumption in a global context," said Rahul Telang, Professor of information systems at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College.

"It upends the popular expectation that online media platforms would benefit from the restrictions put in place during the pandemic, in part because this type of music consumption is not standalone entertainment, but complements activities that declined during lockdowns, such as commuting," he added.

The study also examined music consumption through video platforms (e.g., online video channels), using data from YouTube's music streaming platform from July 2019 to October 2020.

Consumption via video platforms, which requires more attention and is less complementary to activities like driving, rose during the study period, with unprecedented surges in volume after the WHO's declaration.

Based on counts of artists' video views on YouTube, music demand in this medium increased more dramatically in countries with more Covid-19 cases, stricter lockdown policies, and sharper declines in individuals' mobility.

The study also found a partial rebound in streaming volume in countries with a decrease in Covid-19 cases and with declines in the amount of time people spent at home. Researchers suggest that any resurgence of new cases of the virus could lead to further restrictions and more work from home, which would likely depress streaming demand once more.

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