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Global Survey Reveals Music Trends Rocking Fans Across The World
Synovate surveyed 8,000 adults ages 18+ across 13 countries to understand the buying habits and preferences of music consumers
By Mi2N
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Almost one in five music fans 'will do anything' to meet their idols, and many are happy to view ads and even share their personal information for access to free music, according to a new study from global market research firm Synovate.

Steve Garton, global head of media research for Synovate, said: "Since the beginning of humankind, there has been a passion for music. From the primitive beating of drums, to even before we are born when we're already used to the steady beat of our mother's heart, we are programmed to have a passion for music."

Synovate surveyed 8,000 adults ages 18+ across 13 countries - Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Korea, Philippines, Spain, UK and US - to understand the buying habits and preferences of music consumers. The results were presented by Music Matters during MIDEM 2010, the world's biggest music industry conference.

Dominique Leguern, Director of MIDEM, said: "Seeing that the music industry is more diverse and fragmented, monetising the new music experience has become increasingly complex. It is more essential than ever to understand today's music consumption patterns and what is most valuable for music fans."

Jasper Donat, president of Music Matters, said: "This study is a great tool for anyone working in today's music industry or with music brands. The results clearly prove that music is the undisputed world's number 1 passion; however, it's also very interesting to see swings, shifts and cultural diversity in music consumption patterns around the world. We're delighted we've been able to do this study with MIDEM and Synovate, two global powerhouses."

Music makes the world go round

It's probably no surprise that music is the world's favourite pastime. Respondents were asked to rank their passion for music on a ten point scale, ranging from 'I couldn't care less' (1) to 'I'd listen every minute of the day if I could' (10). Across all the markets surveyed, the majority of people (63%) consider themselves passionate about music, ranking their passion at level 6 or above. This was highest in Brazil (80%), Spain and the UK (79% each), while Australia ranked lowest on the music passion scale at 27%.

Among those who consider themselves passionate about music, 14% would listen to music 'every minute of every day' if they could, with this again highest in Brazil at 49% and lowest in Australia at 2%. Only 6% of people across the world say they 'couldn't care less' about music.

"Music is entrenched in many aspects of Brazilian life," said Jesus Caldeiro, head of client relationships for Synovate in Brazil. "It is not just entertainment but the 'soundtrack of life' here as it's present in homes, on the street, bars, in neighborhoods, the beach, the mountains and the schools. Brazil's music culture is vastly rich and crosses many influences - local, African, European, and all possible combinations. As the late Brazilian musician Antonio Carlos Jobim once said, 'Brazil is music - music is Brazil'."

Celebrity access

Celebrity culture is alive and well. Nineteen percent of people say that they would 'give anything' to meet their favourite music artists, though exactly what that might be is anyone's guess! Fans in the US (33%), UK (32%) and Spain (30%) are the most obsessed with this idea, while consumers in China, Hong Kong, and Hungary aren't ready to do anything special to meet their favourite music stars. Only 7% each would, the lowest among all markets surveyed.

Sixteen percent were excited about the idea of going on weekend get-aways with their favourite musical artists and fellow fans, including access to a few concerts during that time, but not everyone was impressed with the idea. Those indicating they were 'very interested' in this were the Americans (44%) and Brits (39%), while only 2% of those in Hungary and 3% in Hong Kong would be interested.

"The rise of artists' own web sites, along with their use of social media like blogs, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, have gotten music fans even closer to their favourite stars," says Garton. "We're also living in fame obsessed times so these media help fuel the frenzy.

"However, in many eastern markets, while things like celebrity endorsements can work quite well, if done right, a certain amount of pragmatism sets in. People think, yes, my favourite singer is gorgeous and sing songs that capture my feelings now, but they're not going to help me get a promotion in my job. In Hong Kong and China, there is a pop culture. But it remains a means to an end, not an end in its own right."

When respondents were asked which music 'extras' they'd be willing to pay for, their answers suggest that western markets overall are more interested in paying for exclusive items such as access to exclusive unreleased MP3s, members-only web content, private gigs, etc.

Americans topped the charts as most willing to pay for more access to and information about their favourite music stars. More than two-thirds of Americans say they'd pay for the following: Text alerts about upcoming shows and tickets availability (70%); Access to 'members only' exclusive internet gigs (67%); A 'queue jumper' feature, including guest list entry and an upgrade for 'all access' to areas (67%); as well as access to a 'members only' section on an artist's website (67%).

According to Bob Michaels, Senior Vice President of Consumer & Business Insights for Synovate in the US: "Americans are willing to pay for these 'rights' because they want to be part of the inner circle. While anyone can go online and get a song, paying for unreleased music or special access to the member-only section of an artist's website makes fans feel that they 'know' the artist and are getting something that only really dedicated fans have. It's like having a front row seat every day."

Mobile music rising?

The advent of MTV in 1981 ushered in a whole new way for musical artists to connect with their fan base, and TV still remains a key medium for consumers to watch music videos. But the computer and mobile phone are becoming strong contenders. When asked how they watched music videos over the past month, more than half of those surveyed (57%) say they watched them on TV while 46% watched them on the computer. Another 16% used their mobile phones, which was highest in India (38%), Philippines (23%) and China (20%).

Mick Gordon, managing director for Synovate in India, said: "It's not surprising that 38% of Indians have watched music videos on their mobile. A fully loaded mobile phone is a basic in India - the market is growing phenomenally, adding millions of mobile phone subscribers every year.

"And 73% of Indians polled say they have watched music videos on TV. In India, it's still the Bollywood music that is most popular; ditto for music videos. Lately we've seen some migration of Hindi pop stars into Bollywood music as standalone albums of Indian pop stars do not have the wide reaching acceptance that Bollywood does. And among the youth and certain urban pockets, western music is very popular. That accounts for the popularity of MTV and Channel V in India."

China, at 16%, ranked the highest globally for 'Paid for music apps on my mobile phone' compared to only 8% of people globally (8%). This activity was also popular in Korea (13%), India (9%) and the UK (8%). The global average for 'Paid to download a music track to my computer' was 14%, topped by Korea (49%) and the UK (26%).

Robert Alleyne, Research Manager for Synovate in the UK, said: "The scores of less than one in ten people globally paying for music apps on their mobile is not really surprising because, despite mobile capturing many headlines recently, penetration is still relatively low. That said, I would expect this proportion to grow over time. While older mobile users may not be so open to downloading music and music apps via mobile, young tech savvy consumers have done this for some time now. And as gadgets such as the iPhone reduce the need for people to carry separate music players and mobiles it will continue to grow.

"Licensing and ownership of mobile music is also important to bear in mind. If I download a song on my mobile, do I then have the right to transfer that to my PC, burn it to a CD or transfer it to my MP3 player? The vast majority of consumers would believe they had the right to do so; however, many of the licensing agreements restrict what people do with the music they download using their phones.

"Although I do expect the numbers on this to grow in the UK, I would envisage a faster growth in people streaming music on their mobiles. If I can stream any song I want while on the move, why would I need to own it?"

The lowdown on downloading and streaming

Despite what some may think, the record store is not dead. Even with the rise in digital music, many still want to own music in its physical form. In the past month, almost one-third of people bought a music CD at a store while 11% purchased one online. While this is good news for music retailers, there is still an underbelly of counterfeit CDs and illegal downloading that physical and online retailers are competing with. The music industry has spent considerable effort to attach stigmas to illegal music downloading, which may be working in some markets.

Eleven percent of people globally confessed to purchasing bootleg / counterfeit / pirated music CDs, topped by the Philippines (41%), Brazil (21%) and China (14%).

Almost one-third (29%) admitted to downloading a song from the internet without paying for it. This is highest in China (68%), Korea (60%) and Spain (46%). And, 19% used a file-sharing program, topped again in China (37%) and followed by Spain (31%).

Alleyne said: "For a long time downloading illegally was easier and faster than downloading legally but not anymore. And consumers have taken to these new legal services. They don't want to break the law; however, with credit card only payment methods (remember, a large proportion of music sales, especially singles, are made by those under 16 who cannot use a credit card) and DRM/formats, meaning the song I downloaded in Microsoft's music store could not be played on my iPod, some consumers were almost forced to download illegally.

"The music industry seemed to make it difficult for consumers but that's no longer the case. And we in the UK have moved wholeheartedly to legal methods of downloading. I fully expect the number of people who are illegally downloading to decline over time. Indeed, if it were not for the strides taken in 2009, I would have expected the 13% of Brits who admitted to file-sharing to be double or even triple that!"

Caldeiro said: "The belief of artists' rights is not as entrenched in Brazil as in other markets. Instead, music is perceived to be a common good, an intrinsic part of Brazilian identity and therefore belonging to everyone. Because of this, Brazilian artists themselves are being very active in promotion of free sharing of music via creative common licenses and other models."

Most people do purchase their music legally and legal mobile downloads are beginning to take off. Eight percent of consumers globally have paid for music apps on their phone, rising as high as 16% in China and 13% in Korea, while 14% globally have paid to download a full length mobile music track. Yet again, Korea (30%) and China (27%) lead this globally.

Darryl Andrew, CEO for Synovate in China, said: "In China, we conducted a study a few years ago on digital music. From that we learned consumers were literally asking businesses to help them get access to music via their mobile phone... and guess what, that is exactly what China Mobile did. They added this to their service options, i.e., had customers pay a few Yuan more on their mobile phone bill enabling them to download music. Smart!"

Gordon said: "Indians are clearly passionate about music but downloading a full song on their mobile phone is still a low 13%, and online music downloads are just 6% due to lower levels of internet penetration in Indian households. Buying a music CD in a physical store is still more acceptable and enjoyable to Indians."

Music streaming is also a big fan favourite as one in five people globally, topped by Korea at 60%, streamed their favourite songs in the past month from the growing number of legal music streaming services, such as MySpace, The Hype Machine, Seeqpod, Imeem, We7 and Spotify.

Musical merchandising

Leveraging an artist's current reputation and image, or developing a new one, through merchandising can mean big money for the artist and the companies working with them. An overall 16% of people bought a live music / concert DVD in the past 12 months, topped by the UK at 25%, while 16% bought ring tones / wallpaper via their mobile, topped by Koreans at 66%.

Even though just 11% globally say they bought clothing and other merchandise with musical artists on it over the past month, this rose to an astonishingly high 23% in Korea.

According to Soojeong Min, Research Project Manager for Synovate in Korea: "In general, Koreans love music. This goes back to our history of having 'Nodongyo', a song for working. Our ancestors sang while farming to forget about the harshness of work. So, I guess our love for song and singing started from then, it's kind of a national heritage.

"Also, we have 'Norebang', which is similar to karaoke, and it is very much a part of Korean culture. I'm guessing the reason Korean adults like music and singing so much is that we don't have many other types of 'playing aspects' to our culture, such as card games and board games and barbeques, for adults in our culture. And our high internet penetration allows Koreans easy access to download songs at fairly low prices."

Ads are ok

So what about all the advertisements shown on music downloading and streaming websites? They're no problem at all for most consumers, especially if they offer something in return. Forty-four percent of people globally are happy to view or listen to ads if it lets them download free music while 41% are ok with viewing ads if they can get access to free music streaming.

In fact, many are even willing to share information about themselves to gain access to free music. Almost one quarter of people globally would provide personal information in exchange for access to free music downloads, topped by the UK (38%), Australia and Korea (37% each). Most hesitant would be those in Hungary (90% are unwilling) and Hong Kong (89%).

An overall 23% say they would share their personal information for access to free music streaming, topped by Australia (36%), India (35%), Philippines and the UK (31% each).

The markets most unwilling to share their personal information in exchanges for free streaming were Spain and Hong Kong (88% each).

Garton said: "I think this shows how careful listeners in these markets are - and clearly some already know how to get music for free anyway. There is concern about what will happen to their private information if they give it to a third party, so companies need to be really considerate about privacy and explicit with consumers on how they plan to use the information."

Brands, bands and fans

Product endorsements and promotions / competitions that feature musical artists are one of the quickest ways to establish an artist's brand, and the study indicates that consumers support this.

Almost one-third (30%) of people globally look out for competitions or promotions that feature their favourite artists and bands (topped by China at 49%) while 43% agree that 'If brand sponsorship is the only way an artist can make money, I think they should do it (even if they have to compromise)'.

Garton said: "It seems like Hong Kong has the most committed fans in the world in one respect. They are the highest group, at 59%, that say they'll support their favourite performers who use brand sponsorship if that is the only way these artists can make money."

However, 47% of people globally don't think this is a good idea, with Hungarians the most opposed, at 63%, to the possible suggestion of musical artists 'selling out.'

Respondents were also asked if they are more likely to buy a product that is endorsed by their favourite artist / band. Overall, almost one third of people globally (31%) agreed with this, topped by Korea at 52% and China at 38%.

Andrew said: "Interestingly, Chinese consumers actively seek brands associated to music icons but, as shown earlier, score low in areas such as 'I'd give anything to meet my favourite artist' and I'd listen to music every minute of the day if I could'.

"There is a combination of factors at play here. First, marketers know celebrity endorsements work (if they're done well). For a new product launch, a quick win is to use the celebrity to help raise the profile of your brand.

"There is also a bit of 'Pavlov' conditioning involved. Consumers in China and across the world expect to see celebrities endorse and promote products, and in many cases they lap it up - they love the exposure for their favourite pop icon. So, it's a no-brainer, but marketers still have to know what consumers' hot buttons are."

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