Survey: Teens Cut Back On Music Spending
April 3, 2009

A new survey from NPD Group finds that teens spent far less money on music in 2008 than they did in 2007. In fact, U.S. teens (ages 13-17) acquired 19 percent less music in 2008 than they did the year before, with CD purchasing down 26 percent and MP3 download sales decreasing 13 percent. One might think that sales were down because of file sharing, but according to the survey, that is not the case. NPD says downloading from file sharing networks was down 6 percent in 2008, and the number of teens borrowing music from friends to rip to a computer or burn to CD also was down 28 percent.

As for why their music purchasing was on the downturn, 32 percent of teens cited discontent with the music available, while 23 percent said they already have a large enough collection of music, and 24 percent cited an overall cutback in entertainment spending.

"While we expected to see the continued decline in CD purchasing among teens in NPD's music tracking surveys, it was surprising to see that fewer teens downloaded music from P2P sites or borrowed them from friends," said NPD analyst Russ Crupnick. "These declines could be happening due to a lack of excitement among teens about the music available, but it could also reflect a larger shift in the ways teens interact with music, given that so much music is now available whenever and wherever they want it."

The survey also showed a jump in the use of streaming music services such as MySpace and Pandora in 2008, up to 52 percent over 34 percent last year. Listening or downloading songs on social networks also went up from 26 percent in 2007 to 46 percent in 2008.

"With popular music sites like Pandora, imeem, and MySpace Music complementing offerings by terrestrial and satellite radio, more teens may be getting their fill of music and feeling less compelled to buy music or share it with others," said Crupnick. "Perhaps the next wave for teens comes when just listening to music replaces purchasing actual files, which might end up creating new revenue streams, such as brand- and ad-supported music."

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Jon Zellner
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