Americans tuning out recorded music

Interesting stat:   The average amount of time that Americans spend listening to recorded music annually has dropped significantly over the past 7 years:


Graphic courtesy of Yahoo, USA Today

From 290 hours per year, down to 195. That’s a 32.7% decrease over less than 7 years.

Why? Between surfing the net, playing video games, or watching DVDs, people now spend about one third less of their time just listening to music. Interestingly, those other activities have some degree of music in them: Video Games are a big user of music as are Film Soundtracks and Concert DVDs. The 10 hours or more per week I listen to Streaming Radio simply was not an option pre-broadband.

Gee, I wonder if that significant decrease in recorded music consumption — concurrent to the explosive rise in Gaming and DVD sales –  might have anything to do with the CD sales slow down?

Let’s drill into the details, via the US Census Bureau Report:

Number of hours Americans spent using various types of media in 1998
and 2003

Activity Hours, 1998 Hours, 2003 (proj.) Change (hours)
TV 1551 1656 +105
Radio 936 1014 +78
Box office 13 13 0
Home video 36 96 +60
Interactive TV 0 3 +3
Recorded music 283 219 -64
Video games 43 90 +47
Consumer Internet 54 174 +120
Daily newspapers 185 173 -12
Consumer books 120 106 -14
Consumer magazines 125 116 -9
Total 3347 3661 +314

(Source: US Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, p. 720.)


The table above, covering the five year period 1998-2003, comes from by Alex Halderman and Ed Felten of "Freedom to Tinker:"

The music industry likes to complain about sales lost to piracy, but
figures that show huge sales declines only tell part of the story.
Before we blame this trend on infringement, we have to make several
assumptions, including that the demand for music (whether purchased or
pirated) has remained steady.

Figures available from the US Census bureau suggest otherwise. Data on
"Media Usage and Consumer Spending" abstracted from a study by Veronis
Suhler Stevenson show the average number of hours spent listening to
music by US residents age 12 and older has declined steadily since 1998
(from 283 to a projected 219 in 2003, a 21% decline). Meanwhile, home
video, video games, and consumer Internet have seen dramatic gains.
This suggests that people are turning to new forms of entertainment
(i.e., the Internet, video games, and DVDs) at the expense of recorded




UPDATE March 29, 2005 10:41am

Rojisan has also been disussing active versus passive music "consumption" (2004), and previously discussed "the attention market." Worth checking out.

USA Today
Sun, Mar 27, 2005

Recorded Music Being Replaced by Other Media
Alex Halderman and Ed Felten
Freedom to Tinker September 30, 2004

US Census
Statistical Abstract of the United States/Shannon Reilly and Gia Kereselidze

Section 26. Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
2001 1230-1262
2002 1208-1243
2003 1230-1264
2004-05 1224-1261

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