Image Credit: MIDIA Research

In the last year we’ve all been streaming audio a lot more but music didn’t lead the way in growth during lockdown despite another year of continuous growth for music streaming.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that audio streaming has had another year of growth. We’re living in a streaming revolution and the last decade has transformed the way we consume media, particularly music which is now listened to in the majority on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

This year in particular though, following years of huge growth in music streaming, has seen a boom. The pandemic has led many of us to lead much more isolated, at-home lives in the last year and as such we’ve been watching and listening to more online than ever.

A recent MIDIA report looking at the effects of COVID-19 and various lockdowns on digital consumption has some very interesting things to show. All forms of streaming were up but audio in particular was up hugely, much more than video.

Whilst music streaming increased by 5% over the year it was actually other forms of audio which led the way. Audiobooks and podcasts led the way last year as people turned to voices more than ever. Audiobooks grew by an incredible 50% over the last year as more people turned to books for comfort and entertainment in their audio form. Interestingly, audiobooks are something that Spotify have started exploring.

The huge push by music services to expand their offerings with podcasts has been paying off as more people turn to podcasts than ever. Podcasts grew by 35% in the last year and have been a major focus for Spotify. They uploaded over 1 million podcasts in the last year and have revealed huge plans for the content moving forward.

The huge growth of other forms of audio as well as streaming services insistence on pushing alternatives to music may have some interesting repercussions after seeing the year just passed in audio. As Mark Mulligan comments in his piece for MIDIA, we may now see music competing for listening time with audiobooks and podcasts. Where music was once the clear choice for a car journey or whilst cooking, they may be eschewed more often for narrative content and talk shows.

Beyond audio there were huge gains elsewhere, particularly in gaming which saw a giant boom in 2020 growing 30%, the largest overall category. Whilst everyone seems to have been binging Netflix a lot more, video streaming surprisingly only increased by 7% in 2020 – showing we were all already binging a lot of shows before we were told to stay at home.

Will the huge boosts remain a consistent trend once the pandemic is somewhat cleared up and we resume our normal lives though? Speaking for myself, I know I’ll be spending a lot more time outside and with friends and family once I’m able to freely again. My newfound love for audiobooks will be pushed aside whilst my love for streaming music will remain. However, I have no doubt that audiobooks and other audio content will still remain a new part of my life.