Radio is still number one for music discovery

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Apps and services like Spotify and Amazon's recommendation engine might be eerily accurate at predicting what we'd like to listen to based on past trackless, but for most US consumers, it's radio where, more often than not, they'll get their first exposure to an artist or group.

The latest Nielsen investigation into US musical tastes and listening habits finds that just 9% of Americans don't consider themselves music listeners. However, for the 91% of the national population that does tune in on a regular basis, they're doing so for an average of 24 hours a week.

How we're tuning in is changing too. Three quarters of the population (75%) are listening online (up over 10% from the same point in 2014), in other words, streaming. Competition between providers has never been greater with everyone from Pandora and Spotify to Tidal and Apple attempting to attract music lovers. But when asked how they pledge allegiance to one streaming service over another, the two most important considerations are cost and ease of use. Eight out of 10 respondents cite them as the biggest factors with the quality or size of the song library being the third most important consideration.

However, regardless of catalogue size, the number of songs being consumed digitally is also rising quickly. As Nielsen points out, in the whole of 2014, Americans streamed a combined 164 billion songs. However, between January and June 2015 the number of tracks had already hit the 135-billion mark. Mobile is also playing a bigger role in music; 44% of the population are streaming on the go (up by 7% based on last year's study). However, the amount of people discovering new singers and bands to follow via the radio has also risen by the same amount over the past 12 months.

In all, 61% of Americans say that they discover new acts via the radio, be it of the AM/FM variety or a satellite channel while 65% of teenagers say that real-life recommendations from family and friends are crucial for discovering new artists.

Another very 20th century way of listening to music -- going to a concert -- is also becoming an increasingly popular way of finding new bands to follow, with 12% of the population saying that discovery is guided by live events. One half of Americans claim to have been to a live music event over the past 12 moths and 11% specifically a music festival.

But whether it's an open mic slot at a jazz club or Lollapalooza, Nielsen's figures show that attending live events now accounts for 50% of all music-related expenditure for the typical American.