Spotify on Tuesday said that Indians use sound as a therapeutic medium and a force for community-building. In its annual trends report called ‘Culture Next’, the Swedish music streaming giant revealed that 76% of Indian millennials and Gen Zs—as compared to 68% globally—said they use audio to cope with stress and anxiety. For 65% of the respondents, music fuelled their self-discovery, while 60% people listened to podcasts to achieve the same. Furthermore, for 84% Indians, music streaming services offered a gateway to other cultures.

For Spotify, which launched in the country last year, India was one of the major focus areas. Amongst the international players, the company has already become the largest audio streaming platform, with a market share of 15%. However, the company is still behind Indian players, such as Times Internet-backed Gaana and Reliance-led JioSaavn, with the latter two occupying a market share of 30% and 24%, respectively, as per a recent study by OTT Audience Measurement Insight, passive, continuous audience measurement service.

Spotify’s report gave an indication about how the Gen Zs (who fall within the age bracket of 15-25 years) and millennials (whose ages range from 26-40) are coping with stress and anxiety. It argued that as Covid-19 took hold, Spotify listeners began to add mellower-than-usual songs—acoustic, instrumental, lower BPM, etc.—to their playlists. The respondents said that music had helped keep them sane in these times, enhanced their mood and “ignore unnecessary inner conflicts”. The company’s users globally have turned to podcasts and music more often in the last few months. Moreover, one in four respondents from the U.S. said that they listen to mental-health-related podcasts. Self-improvement podcasts also saw an uptick as people turned to guided meditation and wellness talks to help them decompress and stay calm.

At least where India is concerned, millennials and Gen Zs have often talked about rising levels of stress and anxiety in their lives. A recent survey from Deloitte found that as recently as December last year, 69% of millennials and 67% of Gen Zs had taken leaves from work due to stress and anxiety. The report also noted that financial insecurity was the primary contributing factor to stress amongst these two generations.

Spotify’s report also demystified emerging cultural trends. “It’s impossible to say exactly how this year’s events will shape our future. Still, these months have clarified—and in some ways accelerated—cultural trends that Gen Zs and millennials have been shaping for years,” said Dawn Ostroff, the company’s chief content & advertising business officer.

“Gen Z’s are reconsidering college—one in three might not go at all. They’re rethinking the workforce—65% plan to be (or already are) their own boss. Millennials join them in shaking off old-school partisan labels, focusing on progress instead. And both generations overwhelmingly view 2020 as a ‘cultural wake-up call’,” she added further.

Ostroff said that she wants to understand the next generation through their streaming behaviour. The present report is using Spotify’s Streaming Intelligence, which is based on listener’s streaming behaviour on the platform.

According to the report, 67% of Gen Zs said they plan to be, or already are, their own boss (nearly 20% higher than the global average) while 61% of them considered an education plan other than a degree immediately following higher secondary school. It further observed that according to the listening trends on Spotify, 45% of Indian millennials and Gen Zs listened to at least five genres regularly and the top five podcasts in India were TED Talks Daily, The Ranveer Show, On Purpose with Jay Shetty, Harry Potter at Home: Readings, and Maha Bharat with Dhruv Rathee.

Indian consumers were also ahead in their adoption of technology as compared to the global average. 75% of Indian parents said that they owned a smart speaker which is 30% higher than the global average and 92% are open to buying one within the next year (compared to the global average of 80%). Indian parents also began using Spotify as a medium of education. According to the report, 86% parents said that today’s kids were ‘light years’ ahead of where they were at their age. A majority of the respondents felt that technology had helped them rediscover the meaning and value of family.

The report also shed light on how brands have an opportunity to shape their voice through sound and audio media devices. It revealed that a large percentage of Indian Gen Zs and millennials believe that voice technology makes them more sentimental towards their devices and that sound is at the forefront of humanising technology.

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