Remember as a child we were fascinated with a Sony Walkman and how cool it looked? It seems ages ago. You had to purchase a whole cassette with all the songs in a sequence and on two sides. There was no choosing the songs you liked and listening to only those or purchasing only those songs. And then came the mp3 players in 1994. These portable digital audio players could hold a lot more songs than those were available on a traditional cassette.
Apple launched this product called an iPod and things changed forever. That marked the beginning of the evolution of audio streaming and how audio consumption had transformed since then. With a storage capacity of 5Gb to hold around 1000 songs, The iPod changed the way we could select and download music. The flexibility the iPod provided and the whole audio library we could “carry around” were phenomenal. Initially available only to the Macintosh community, the 2nd generation of this product was extended to Windows users. Following the launch of the iPod in 2001, Apple has launched its online media store, ‘iTunes’ in 2003 as the digital marketplace for music.
Following years saw the transformation of audio streaming from tinier devices and then the smartphone. The consumption of digital audio media has moved from traditional radio and cassette players to online streaming at the convenience and mood of the user. Apps like Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music, and Spotify offer users access to an unlimited collection of the latest music, numerous radio channels, podcasts, etc. from across the globe.
The advent of the smartphone had a cascading effect on how audio consumption changed in modern times. Audio streaming became the fastest increasing revenue stream in the publishing sector. Goldman Sachs forecasts the music revenue to more than double to about $131 billion by 2030.
In March, when the pandemic significantly impacted the United States, audio streaming saw a decline for three weeks by 2%, 8.8%, and 2% consecutively. This kind of decrease is usually seen only during the Holiday Week in December. However, the first week of April saw a 2% increase in streaming within the United States and continued to see an incline. According to Spotify’s Q1 2020 report, overall daily active users and consumption have remained in line with their forecasts, although, Italy and Spain markets, hit hardest by the pandemic, saw notable declines. With such fluctuation in audio consumption, artists and their teams are leveraging new forms of media as a way of reaching their audience.
A recent PwC report states that India is the world’s third-largest podcast listening market with 57.6 million monthly listeners. A 29.3 % increase in podcast consumption was also seen during the first year of the pandemic.
Audio is eye-free and is easily consumed while doing other tasks like traveling, exercising, or just daily chores. Visual overstimulation has caused the audio industry to mushroom as a much-needed, vital escape with no age bar.
IAB UK’s 2020 Digital Adspend report shows that the overall market grew by 17% year on year to a total of £103.7 million, including podcast spend that rocketed to a massive 43%.
Advertisers, such as cosmetics brand NARS, leveraged the increase in smart-speaker listening in an innovative way to solve a marketing challenge. It created a voice-activated campaign, the first of its kind in the UK, targeting smart speaker listeners through the platform. This enabled audiences to order samples directly to their door at a time when physical retailers were closed.
This is only the beginning of how audio media is being used as an innovative way to consume information, listen to the news, podcasts and audiobooks. With the newer generation of Millenials and Generation Z leaning towards convenience, affordability, and accessibility the demand and usage of Audio Streaming apps has risen considerably in recent times. Their preference to use voice assistants over typing or scrolling their smartphones for things is another major contributor to this behavior. These apps are slowly becoming a collaborative marketplace for content creators and collaborators alike and the future of entertainment.