YouTube is teens' No. 1 pick for music listening

While most adults still tend to tune into good old-fashioned radio to hear music, 64 percent of teenagers prefer YouTube to catch the latest hits.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Gone are the days of teenagers buying albums and listening to them all the way through, as are the days of following beloved radio DJs and tuning in at the appropriate times. The new generation is opting for their own music curating by means of YouTube, according to a new study released today by consumer research firm Nielsen.

Although many people -- 48 percent -- still discover music through radio, the majority of teens -- 64 percent -- listen to tunes through YouTube. Nielsen's report, called Music 360, takes an in-depth look at how different age groups are buying and listening to music these days.

"The accessibility of music has seen tremendous expansion and diversification," Nielsen's senior vice president of client development David Bakula said in a statement. "While younger listeners opt for technologically advanced methods, traditional methods of discovery like radio and word-of-mouth continue to be strong drivers."

Even though lots of teens are listening to music via YouTube, roughly 50 percent are still buying CDs, listening to the radio, and using iTunes. Over the last year, 33 percent of adolescents bought a CD and 51 percent have purchased a music download. Teens also tend to have their finger on the music pulse more than adults -- 33 percent bought a digital track within one week of release, while only 21 percent of adults did.

Here are some other interesting stats from Music 360:

Positive recommendations from a friend are most likely to influence purchase decisions

  • 54 percent are more likely to make a purchase based off a positive recommendation from a friend
  • 25 percent are more likely to make a purchase based off a music blog/chat rooms
  • 12 percent are more likely to make a purchase based off an endorsement from a brand
  • 8 percent of all respondents share music on social networking sites, while 6 percent upload music

Music player apps are most prevalent, followed by radio and music store apps

  • 54 percent have music player apps on their smartphones
  • 47 percent have radio apps on their smartphones
  • 26 percent have music store apps on their smartphones

Digital music is seen as a slightly better value than a physical CD

  • 63 percent of purchasers identified digital albums as a very or fairly good value
  • 61 percent identified digital tracks as a very or fairly good value
  • 55 percent identified physical CDs as a very or fairly good value

It's important to point out that Nielsen's report doesn't take into account music streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio, which is a growing way for people to discover and listen to music.

Bakula also noted that as music becomes more widely accessible with technology and the Internet, more people are now listening to music. "With so many ways to purchase, consume and discover great new music," he said, "it's no wonder that the consumer continues to access and enjoy music in greater numbers."