Millennials And Their Love Of Music

Next Big Sound

Knowledge to Navigate the Modern Music Industry

SEP 03 2014


If you were to google the term “Millennial,” you’ll find a fitting quote in the listed definition: “The industry brims with theories on what makes millennials tick.” And this for good reason.

The generation of young adults known as millennials – typically defined as those born between 1980 and 1996 – are on course to be leading the US work force in just a few short years. Millennials have different habits than previous generations, both in terms of spending, consumption, and expectations. While they (or should I say we) have a higher level of education, we also have a higher level of student debt, and less wealth to our names.

Millennials may not have the strongest purchasing power at present, but building brand loyalty with this particular consumer is an opportunity that could prove valuable for decades to come. For all these reasons and more, innumerable attempts have been made to define the millennial and understand what makes their (our) collective clocks tick. And while this continues to pose a challenge to any marketer worth their salt – it is probably one of the most diverse generations to date, and many even strongly disagree with the characterization of “millennial” itself – there is one indisputable fact that should help: Music. We all love music. And we are interacting with music and artists in a very different, yet concretely measurable manner.

When it comes to reaching this generation with music, it is pretty hard to go wrong. For any given artist, it is likely that two-thirds of their audience is comprised of millennials. The median breakdown for artists is 67%, and this pattern holds true for both males and females. This proportion is even more striking when put into context with the fact that the most recent US Census data indicates that millennials only make up about 23% of the population. Of course, it is not as simple as all that. As brand/music partnerships continue to flourish, those collaborations that are unique, creative, and brimming with engaging content, are those that stand out as most successful. What is more, not all millennials are digging on the same soundtrack.

As a recent strategic intelligence report from Omelet states: “Clearly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to Millennials.” Just because EDM is hot right now, and you decide to partner with the hottest name in EDM, does not mean an automatic win for your brand.

However, listening and online interaction data around millennial habits can help marketing teams make more informed decisions around which artists will resonate more with your target demographic. Different genres rise to the top, depending on where you set the minimum threshold for millennial audience, and the fastest growing artists in the Next Big Sound database, have an audience with an even stronger skew toward this generation.

It comes as no surprise that understanding the audience you are trying to reach is key to a successful campaign, and given the wealth of information available through social and streaming data, it is an invaluable resource. For more, check out our recent demographic report, which identifies artists that strongly resonate with millennials.

Liv Buli is the resident data journalist for music analytics company Next Big Sound. Buli is a graduate of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and her work has appeared in Newsweek Daily Beast, Forbes, Billboard, Hypebot and more.