Your audience: Who buys music?

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 12.19.16 PMWhen we use the term ‘buy’ here, we are talking about money – because that is what you need to live in society these days, but it is also important to recognize that people also pay for music with their time. And the way to get people to pay with their money is to first get them to pay with their time.

So let’s look at who likes music. And how they interact with it. What you want to do is to find out where to dig your well, so let’s start narrowing it down.


First of all, 7% of people don’t listen to music. No sense digging a well there.

It’s also important to know what music people listen to. So here are the results from Nielsen. People listen to Rock, Pop, R&B/Hip Hop and Country. Together they make up 75% of all of the music purchased and streamed.

About 75% of all the music purchased and streamed is Rock, Pop, R&B/Hip Hop or Country.

If your music falls into those categories the good news is a lot of people buy that music. The bad news is a lot of people buy that music and it is more difficult to find the ones that are going to love what you do.

If you create jazz or Christian/Gospel or Latin music, (or any of the other 23 genres covered by SoundScan)  there will be less people that purchase it  but the odds are that it will be easier to tell them about yourself because they all know what’s going on in the field.

But this chart is again, only what people are buying and streaming. There is more to making money in music than that. There are live shows, merchandise, vinyl. Here is a chart about how people spent their ‘music money’.

Some of it – just over half – you have no chance of getting because it goes to Big Act shows and Corporation like satellite radio and streaming services. But, there is a lot spent on Covers for Small Acts and Festivals as well as digital downloads, CDs and vinyl.


One last thing to know is that not every music fan gets their music the same way. It depends on the genre. Rock fans are more likely to buy albums. Pop fans more likely to buy singles. R&B/Hip Hop fans more likely to stream. So you need to think of that when you are figuring out how to make money on your music.Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 2.00.07 PM

And non traditional is a good place to be.

Sales of physical formats are down ALOT in the record chain stores like HMV and f.y.e., down quite a bit in Mass Merchandisers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, about the same in independent record stores and UP (!) in non-traditional outlets which Nielsen describes as: Internet, Venue, Direct-to-Consumer and other Non-Traditional retail outlets.

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But not every customer is equally important. Let’s take a look at what the big brands do in finding their most important customers.

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