The “Share of Ear” study for Q3 2016 has been released by Edison Research, and it reveals the latest in how Americans are listening to digital audio today. 

“Share of Ear” is the authoritative and definitive view of how Americans consume audio content. The quarterly study tracks how many Americans use each audio source and the share of time spent with each platform. 

The Q3 data reveals six key findings about the audience shares of digital audio: 

1. American time spent with personally owned music is down 9%. The U.S. is transitioning from purchased entertainment (CDs and DVDs) to renting content from Spotify and Netflix. With music purchases down, the share of American audio time spent to owned music has dropped from 15.1% last year to 13.8%.

2. YouTube beats Pandora and becomes the number one streaming audio service. The audience share of consumers who listen to YouTube music videos has surged 28% from a 5.9 share last year to a 7.6 share in Q3 2016. 

3. Pandora audience shares are stagnant. Over the last year, Pandora’s audience share has been stuck in the mid-6’s. Their growth has stalled. Meanwhile, on-demand services such as YouTube and Spotify have soared. No wonder Pandora just announced a new on-demand service.

4. Spotify’s early 2016 red-hot growth has tempered. Spotify started 2016 with a bang, notching major audience growth. Over the most recent two quarters its audience share growth has been more measured.  Among 18-24 Millennials, Spotify ties Pandora in share of time spent listening. 

5. Listening to Apple Music steadily shrinks. Apple Music was announced to much fanfare, but since then audience shares have steadily eroded. The service’s tiny shares of time spent listening are half of last year’s audience share.  The takeaway: Apple is not a media company and is struggling to compete in the already crowded digital audio space. 

6. Despite the growth in new streaming options, AM/FM radio listening continues to dominate with a 50 percent share of audio time spent. Streaming services have grown at the expense of time spent with owned music, not AM/FM radio. In Q3 2016, AM/FM shares are 14x bigger than Spotify and 8x bigger than Pandora.




See the “Share of Ear” presentation on SlideShare.

About Edison Research’s “Share of Ear” Study
Every quarter, 2,000 respondents keep a 24-hour log to record audio usage. Each quarterly “Share of Ear” study reflects 8,000 respondents, representing a rolling four-quarter average. 

Edison is a leading provider of radio research, with more than 20 years of experience.  Edison is the originator of the well-known “Infinite Dial” study, a 20-year study tracking digital audio and other digital media. Edison is also the sole provider of election exit poll information to major TV networks and the Associated Press.

Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer of Cumulus | Westwood One. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.