How Music Shapes Our Lives

We surveyed women ages 18 – 34 and asked how they discover new music. Read on to find out what your music discovery says about you.

By Stephanie Jung, Kameron Barrow and Angela Lee

Whether we're blasting music through our headphones, speakers, or in the car, we all love listening to new tunes. But where do people actually find those bops and jams? The answer may surprise you.

Curated Discovery

84% of respondents reported that they find new artists through playlists made by streaming services (think: Spotify's Discover or curated public playlists), compared to 54% who self-search through streaming services’ music library. In fact, Spotify (80%) and Instagram (80%) are the most popular platforms used to keep up with artists. Meanwhile, 51% find them through their favorite artists promoting other artists.

This may come as a shock, but radio is still alive and well! Nearly half (46%) of those surveyed found new artists through the radio. And (surprise, surprise) TikTok has emerged as a ripe platform for discovery for 42% of respondents.

Independent Discovery

According to our survey, our music tastes extend beyond the mainstream. 83% of people report listening to a mix of lesser-known and mainstream artists. And for the majority, music isn’t a popularity contest; 72% say popularity isn’t important when finding new artists.

There's nothing better than finding a new artist. When asked, more respondents (36%) revealed that discovering lesser-known artists was more important than emerging artists’ unique sound (19%). However, the biggest reasons for not listening to emerging artists over mainstream ones is the extra effort needed to find them (34%) and not knowing where to look (30%).

Why We Listen to Music Across Generations

We all love a good throwback song — and by all, we literally mean 99% of those surveyed listen to music and artists from other generations.

When asked about the appeal of listening to music from other generations, almost two-thirds of our respondents said they enjoyed listening to a variety of sounds.

Why We Listen

Do you have a go-to pick me up playlist? Or maybe a set of songs to cry to on a rainy day? You're not alone; 88% listen to music to match their mood and 75% of people listen to music to evoke a mood. And, more than half (55%) listen to music to experience something vicariously through an artist — falling in love, breaking up, you name it.

What Shapes our Music Taste

Turns out, popular music is popular for a reason — and readers pointed out that the prevalent pop jams they listened to growing up is what most influences their music tastes (83%). Friends (80%) and family (72%) also play an important role in shaping someone's music tastes.

What Makes a Good Artist

What personality traits do you love about your favorite artist? Our participants' top three responses were: Authentic/Genuine (77%), Passionate (65%), and Hard Working (43%).

Live events create a deeper bond — 43% became a fan of their favorite artists after going to their concert for the first time, compared to the 30% who said that watching performances online caused them to become fans. And contrary to popular belief – no, looks aren't everything. 54% of our participants believe physical attractiveness is not important while 35% are indifferent.

The Power of Music

Empathy is music’s most powerful force, 70% believe that music has the power to create a more empathetic society.

While music can rally people together behind a cause (60%) and bring light to social issues (56%), participants were more skeptical about its power to bring about policy change (22%) and create a more equitable society (20%)

Music Brings Us Together

Music has the power to strengthen our relationships and deepen our bonds. Nearly half (46%) of participants say that music has helped them open up about a personal matter to someone else, and 43% use music to stay in touch with friends, acquaintances, and family.

Our favorite artists have an effect on us. 62% of participants say their favorite artists introduced them to new styles and aesthetics, and nearly half (46%) of participants believe their favorite artists made them more confident in who they are — which is always a good thing.