New Study: The Mystery Behind the Way Teens Listen to Music

According to a recent Piper Jaffray study, contrary to popular belief, teenagers have yet to abandon the MP3 as the traditional way to listen to music. Given a sample of about 7,200 teens, Piper Jaffray concluded that nearly 42 percent preferred an MP3 player to Pandora, local radio, CDs, Sirius XM and other streaming services. This data however, omits key trends, including the use of Spotify and YouTube, and may not be the best interpretation of how teenagers listen to music today.

musicAs brought to question in The Atlantic, the Piper Jaffray survey failed to provide information that “indicates whether its 42 percent of teens preferring MP3s over the other options, or if it’s that, 42 percent of the time they listen to music, teens are using MP3s to do it.”

And perhaps the most suspicious red flag is that less than a year ago, “only 35 percent of teens said they used MP3s.”

Platforms such as YouTube and Spotify that have become popular destinations for online music streaming seem to have been misrepresented. Using different numbers, a 2012 Nielsen report showed the following: “64 percent of teens listen to music through YouTube, 53 percent… on the radio, 53 percent…through iTunes, [and][another] 50 percent… on CD.”

An updated 2014 Nielsen analysis showed a drop in online music sales and an overwhelming increase of streaming overall. The reason perhaps, as Martin Pyykkonnen, an analyst at Wedge Partners suggests, is that, “Young people today don’t buy music anymore.”