Music has always played a huge role in the lives of students – it has defined generations, led the charge and opened up worlds of experiences. Music is the soundtrack to our nostalgic moments, falling in love, friendships and heartbreaks.
What has changed over the generations is student consumption patterns and listening platforms. Instead of records, tapes or CDs being played over and over again, we have music of every age and genre available instantly at our fingertips. While the days of copying your mate’s mix tapes is long gone, so it seems, quite unexpectedly, has pirating and downloading music for free.
One of the defining changes of the early 2000s was P2P file sharing and its unexpected, but lasting effect on the fabric of the music industry; music was now seemingly free, and musicians were no longer rich just because they were popular. Unreleased songs were leaked and album sales were plummeting to all-time lows. This has caused a change in the very makeup of the music industry and how it is run, with bands and musicians looking more and more to brands for their income streams.
As early as three years ago, research showed students were the most prolific piraters of music. But now there is a sea-change; has a heightened sense of morality led this change, or is music streaming just so simple that even with growing monthly costs, students are willing to pay to listen to their favourite tunes?
To find the answers we went straight to the source and 87% of students agreed that artists should get paid fairly (which is expected)… BUT 44% also think all music should be free to listen to so they aren’t necessarily expecting to fund the artists themselves.
What we’re seeing is a conflict between their upstanding student morals and their consumer behaviour, with only 25% saying that they feel guilty when listening to music without paying for it.
It begs the question whether accessing music for free on platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud has changed their perception of music and it is now seen as a commodity that is paid for/supported by others.
We also found that 60% of students didn’t mind listening to or seeing adverts if it means they can access music for free. So, it appears that most are starting to realise that if they are not paying for the product, then they ARE the product. And in that case music isn’t really ever free.
The waters around students desire for music, their want for musicians to be paid, but their continuing free streaming of music might be muddy, but what is clear is that there is still a huge role for brands to play in the world of music –- to support artists, to add to culture, and to create emotional connections. Since music is such a powerful and emotional entity –- especially for students – the opportunity for brands to help define the future of music and its consumption is at an all-time high.
The key is creating authentic cut-through in a very busy space that is inundated with competition. We know live events are on the up, but how do you stand out in a sea of other brands, festivals, gigs and cultural events?
If you know that students want musicians to be paid, think about how you might create meaningful shows, endorsements, or experiences with musicians. If you want to add to musical culture, how can you bring the up-and-coming artists out of the dark and into the limelight? Give your audience the musical moments that the industry can’t.
And when the 60% of students who don’t mind hearing adverts now start earning and decide to upgrade their accounts to be uninterrupted by your brand, how will you adapt to this change?
To find out more, get your hands on the research or to book in a workshop, chat to Joe our Managing Director on 0203 946 6010 or firstname.lastname@example.org