Coming together during COVID-19: The new culture of co-listening

It’s no secret that social distancing has upended our lives. As we spend less time on the go and more time at home, our daily routines and habits are taking new shapes. And though we know listening to music remains a key part of people’s lives during COVID-19, these new at-home routines have impacted how, where, and why people are listening. For example, listening in the car has declined, but listening on gaming consoles and across connected devices is up.

To learn more about how people’s lives (and listening habits) have changed, we decided to speak with our listeners. We conducted a study with 1,500 US listeners in partnership with Qualtrics this April. We learned that while social distancing might be keeping a lot of us apart, those who are “quaranteaming” are listening more in groups with their friends and family. Read on to learn more about the rise of co-listening—and how this trend should impact your brand’s messaging.

Streaming is up.
Despite shifting user behaviors, the ubiquity of streaming audio means we can be anywhere our users are. As habits shift away from more linear-supported moments like commute, and towards at-home moments, listeners are turning to their favorite video, social, and music streaming platforms to stay connected, informed, and entertained. In fact, 67% of people we surveyed said that they are increasing their consumption of streaming audio.1 That tracks with what we just announced on our platform too with monthly active users up 31% year over year.2

More people are listening together.
When the shelter in place order went into effect, many people found themselves distanced from family and friends. Many have turned to Spotify as a way to connect through collaborative playlists, Zoom dance parties, and even long-distance karaoke.

For others, the shelter meant more time at home with family and friends. Instead of listening solo, these users are using music as a time to have fun or unwind with their family. Among listeners we surveyed, 47% have listened in a group setting in the past two weeks.3 And 41% of these listeners say they are listening with a group more often than they did prior to social distancing.4 They’re spending a lot of time listening in groups too: On days listened, respondents listened with three other people for five hours on average.5

Mobile still reigns, but smart speakers are rising.
Where these groups are listening is shifting too. Spotify’s most common listening platform, the mobile phone, is also the most common for group listening: 36% of listeners say they listen with groups through the speaker on their mobile phone.6 But the fastest growing platform for group listening is smart speakers, with 60% of respondents saying they are listening to smart speakers with groups more often than they did prior to COVID-19. 7

Podcasts fuel family time.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen listeners turn to podcasts to stay informed and entertained. We’ve also seen a surge in creator activity on our platform as people turn to the medium to reach and engage fans quickly. The bottom line: there’s never been more listeners—or more to listen to.

The last bit is particularly true of families. We’ve seen parents rely on podcasts in recent weeks to entertain and educate kids—and as an alternative to screen time. Our recent research into listening trends revealed that family togetherness is a key driver for group podcast listening: 55% of those that listen to podcasts in groups enjoy how podcasts allow for screenless family experiences and 45% say they help bring the people in their house together.8

As always, context is crucial.
So, how should these findings impact your messaging in the next few weeks or months? Well, it’s never been more important to understand your listener’s context so you can adjust your tone. Forty-five percent of listeners state that they wish brands could better speak to what they are doing when they hear ads.9 And as routines shift quickly, it’s critical that brands look at contextual cues over less reliable signals. Otherwise you might miss insights like this: 59% of respondents surveyed say they’re spending more time cooking and 44% say they’re spending more time with family activities.10

Along with context, understanding the mood of the listeners and being sensitive to it is essential when messaging to groups as well: 41% of listeners stated that they are more receptive to audio advertising in a group if it matches their mood at the time.11

We’re here to help your brand adapt quickly to these new listening moments. As a next step, take a look at some creative guidance we just released to help brands adjust their messaging during this time. Or get in touch with our team to get started.

1 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020
2 Spotify Internal Data, Q1 2020
3 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020
4 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020
5 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020
6 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020
7 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020
8 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020
9 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020
10 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020
11 Qualtrics & Spotify, Co-listening Survey among 1,500 respondents, US, April 2020