While streaming music makes listening easier than ever before, a new study shows that “over half of us listen to fewer albums than 5-10 years ago.”

After streaming platform Deezer surveyed 8,000 people, the music service discovered that many modern listeners prefer playlists to albums: 40% to be exact. So why exactly are albums, as the survey indicated, ‘not like they used to be’? One explanation could be that with the influx of streaming services and variety of quality listening experiences we have, consumers have become more selective in what they listen to.

Interestingly, audio quality may be a contributing factor, as 94% of those surveyed saying they would “reconsider listening to a full album in a higher quality or HiFi version.” It sees that our the expansion of available music choices and our increasingly fickle nature, paired with a decreased amount of free time and a shortened attention span, have formed a perfect storm that has caused the popularity of the album format to fall.

After surveying 8,000 people, the music service discovered that many modern listeners prefer playlists to albums: 40% to be exact. So why exactly are albums, as the survey indicated, ‘not like they used to be’? One explanation could be that with the influx of streaming services and variety of quality listening experiences we have, consumers have become more selective in what they listen to.

“The amount of great music released these days is so huge and available time has shrunk so much, it’s no surprise that more music fans turn to playlists for their music fix.”

Frederic Antelme, VP of Content and Productions at Deezer

The quick-fix for these issues that listeners have been turning to is the playlist. Thanks to popular playlists such as Spotify’s Daily Mixes to Apple Music’s endless compilations, 40% of users prefer playlists in order to mix up their listening experience. People’s preferred genres also play a large role in dictating whether or not they are “full album listeners” – many playlists cater to fans of one particular genre who want to hear a selection of songs by different artists in a certain style, rather than a series of songs by one artist, band or producer.

Pop, rock, and R&B stole the top three positions for “full album listening” in the world, with pop and rock sitting very high at 39% and 38%. However, 60% of Billboard’s Top 10 albums of 2020 are R&B or hip-hop. This begs the question: is it singles or albums driving record sales and increasing streaming stats? Only 9% of those surveyed reported that they prefer listening to albums, however millennials were “twice as likely as Baby Boomers to deep-dive into an album.” Keeping this in mind and the fact that, according to Pew Research Center, millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the generation with the most spending power, the album may be making a comeback soon.

Only 9% of those surveyed reported that they prefer listening to albums, however millennials were “twice as likely as Baby Boomers to deep-dive into an album.” Keeping this in mind and the fact that, according to Pew Research Center, millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the generation with the most spending power, the album may be making a comeback soon.

This may be the case in America, but listening patterns differ all over the world. The survey included respondents from USA, Germany, France and Brazil. Forty percent of Brazilians shuffle albums while the other 36% listen to the tracks in order. Though it was comprehensive, Deezer’s study failed to include two major international streaming and buying hubs: Mexico and Korea.

READ MORE: As album sales continue to decline, is there a future for the format in the streaming era?

According to IFPI, Mexicans listen to an average of 25.6 hours of music per week in comparison the international average of 18. Less involved in streaming, Koreans buy music in much higher quantities than other countries with 44% of respondents having reported purchasing CDs, vinyl, or downloads in the last week. Collective insights from these regions could cast a different light on the fate of the album format in the modern musical landscape.

Beyond supporting the artistic vision of musicians, Deezer also reported that listening to albums can lift your mood. Hearing an album for the first time made 48% of respondents happy, 46% excited, and 24% inspired. So, if you are feeling a little down, before you hit shuffle on that playlist and let the streaming services choose your music for you, return to an album that you treasure, or take the time to listen through a new one.

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