What People Look For in Music Services

I’ve run a couple of different surveys about music consumption habits over the last weeks as part of my research for a report I’m publishing later in the week. I thought I’d share some of the preliminary findings with Tech.pinions Insiders. Specifically, I’m going to share some charts about the features respondents felt were most important in the music services they use. The charts come from one of the two surveys run with 500 iPhone users around the world through the MicroHero survey app.

Ranking features in order of importance

The first chart shows the full results of the survey question I asked regarding which features people consider most important in their music services. The possible responses were:

  • Discovering new music
  • Easily finding the music I already know I like
  • Being able to listen to the music I already own
  • Being able to easily create playlists
  • Being able to easily share music or playlists with other people
  • Being easy to use.

These are abbreviated in the chart below.

Full results most important features

I’ve ranked the features in order of first-ranked votes, so you can get a rough sense of the pattern. The chart below shows just the first and second ranked votes combined for each feature, for a cleaner look at how these features stack up:

Top ranks combined

What you can see is the most important feature on this basis was finding music the user already knows he or she likes, rather than finding new music. A related option – about playing the music the user already owns – came in fourth. Discovery of new music was third ranked while ease of use came in a close second. Interestingly, both the ability to make playlists and the ability to share music and playlists with friends and family were ranked the lowest, with sharing ranked very low on the list of priorities. It got far more last-ranked votes than any other feature. Given how much services such as Spotify emphasize making and sharing playlists, I found this somewhat surprising but it’s borne out by both the surveys I ran.

Differences by age

Another interesting wrinkle in all this is looking at how these preferences differ by the age of the respondent. Because the total sample was just 500, some of these age groups are fairly small so the results aren’t as robust as for the overall sample. But some trends stand out nonetheless. You can see the combined first and second place votes as a percentage of each age group for these same features:

Feature rankings by age

What you’ll see is while there are some features which are fairly consistent by age, there are others where there seems to be a fairly clear correlation between age and importance. Discovery, for example, is tied for first most important among under 18s, but declines rapidly in importance with age. Ease of use, by contrast, rises fairly steadily in importance with increased age, as does playing the music one owns.

All this is very important for designers of music services to keep in mind – not only do some high-profile features not rank very highly for most users at all, but those that are considered most important vary quite considerably with age. As such, those developing or managing music services need to be very clear about which demographics they’re targeting and ensure their service features are well-aligned with the things those age groups are most likely to consider important. The context for both of the surveys was the recent end of the first three months of the Apple Music service, which means some of the earliest users are now paying customers. I wanted to understand how people are evaluating Apple Music and whether they’re sticking with it when the trial ends. I’ll be publishing the report with all the findings this week on my company website.

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Jan Dawson

Jan Dawson is Founder and Chief Analyst at Jackdaw Research, a technology research and consulting firm focused on consumer technology. During his sixteen years as a technology analyst, Jan has covered everything from DSL to LTE, and from policy and regulation to smartphones and tablets. As such, he brings a unique perspective to the consumer technology space, pulling together insights on communications and content services, device hardware and software, and online services to provide big-picture market analysis and strategic advice to his clients. Jan has worked with many of the world’s largest operators, device and infrastructure vendors, online service providers and others to shape their strategies and help them understand the market. Prior to founding Jackdaw, Jan worked at Ovum for a number of years, most recently as Chief Telecoms Analyst, responsible for Ovum’s telecoms research agenda globally.

2 thoughts on “What People Look For in Music Services”

  1. Probably not as important, but it would be interesting to find if any of this shifts depending on music style preferences. A ballet company I know of received a grant to do some market research. What they found was counter intuitive, well, maybe at least surprising. The older audiences were more interested in new works because they were already familiar with the classics. Younger audiences, especially parents, wanted traditional works because either they were unfamiliar themselves or they wanted to expose their children to the classics.

    I’ve always wondered how that would play out with other art forms and if there is some “classics vs pop” art forms delineation there, too.


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