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Mobile Music Listeners Press Play on Smartphones

Nearly six in 10 have mobile streaming apps, but almost three-quarters don't pay for them

The days of portable audio cassette and CD players are long gone. Instead, most mobile users listen to mobile music on newer, smaller devices, and a study by AYTM Market Research found that smartphones were the chart-topper among devices used.

The majority of US mobile users surveyed in December 2013 said they listened to mobile music at least “sometimes,” and around half of that group played songs “often.” Likely due to their more portable size, smartphones were the leading device for listening among mobile music users, including those who “rarely” listened. iPods and MP3 players—also small in size—ranked second. Tablets, which some may consider too bulky to carry around just to listen to music, trailed far behind.

Smartphones may be the device of choice for mobile music listening, but September 2013 research by ChoiceStream revealed that US internet users were far more likely to purchase music on a computer than on a mobile device, at 50.0% vs. 27.3%.

Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have been in the limelight as of late, and AYTM’s findings confirmed their popularity on mobile: Nearly six in 10 respondents had at least one mobile app that streamed music. But those who do stream music through apps typically aren’t paying to do so. Almost three-quarters of respondents who listened to mobile music and had at least one app/service that streamed music said they did not pay for it.

Results from September 2013 polling by Deloitte suggest that US digital buyers may not mind paying for music—as long as they get to keep it in their music library. Music/videos ranked third for products US buyers had bought digitally, cited by 40% of respondents.

Consumers’ personal music libraries filled with favorite songs, combined with the option to stream music they don’t own on demand, may be why the largest percentage of respondents to the AYTM survey said they “sometimes listen to their own music and sometimes stream music” when listening via mobile.

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