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The average American listens to four hours of audio a day, reports new survey

on June 19, 2014, 1:05pm

The best part of living in 2014 isn’t the advances in medical science, more efficient means of communication, or even the ramen burger. Instead, it’s the endless stream of music we have available 24/7/365. Thanks to that handy-dandy, little super computer in your pocket, you could be lost somewhere in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains and still spin a lil’ DMX. And to think, your parents had to get by with just these.

Still, with the endless sea of options to wade through each day, the question begs to be asked: just what exactly are the listening habits of the average American? Until now, there’s been no definitive research on the how’s and why’s of our audio consumption. Now, though, Edison Research (via Billboard) has unveiled their survey, offering a breakdown and some intriguing insight into just how Americans spend their days consuming audio. But first, a little mood music.

For their survey, entitled “Share of Ear”, Edison made use of a cross-segment of 2,096 Americans all over the age of 13. Participants were asked to keep “listening diaries,” which tracked both online and offline audio listening in random, 15-minute intervals.

According to Edison, most Americans listen to approximately four hours and five minutes of audio each day. Of that listening time, broadcast radio (both AM and FM) accounts for 52%. (Some 92% of Americans age 12 and over listen to the radio.) Another 20% is accounted for by “owned music”; that is, vinyl, CDs, tapes, downloads, etc. Next, streaming services, like Beats Music and Pandora, account for 12% of listening. In fact, in an accompanying study, Edison found that some 47% of all Americans age 12 and over, a whopping 124 million people, listen to online radio a month.

From there, no other category accounts for more than 10%, including satellite radio (8%), podcasts (2%), and the “other” category, which includes formats like audiobooks (2%). Check out the complete breakdown below.

Share of Ear Release

According to Edison Research president Larry Rosin, the results demonstrate that audio is “the hottest space in the world of media,” adding, “It shows why three of the four horsemen of the Internet — Apple, Amazon and Google — are in the audio space. Who knows if Facebook will follow them?” Edison reported last September that America is in a “golden age of audio consumption.” Seeing that Americans spend roughly a fourth of their waking day listening to some sort of audio confirms it.” Rosin also explained that until Edison had compiled the results, they had no idea of any data outside the formats of terrestrial and Internet radio.

Edison’s results also demonstrate a more nuanced breakdown than similar surveys. Late last year, the NPD Group released their own study of listening habits. They found that broadcast radio accounted for 32%, while streaming services and “owned music” accounted for 26% and 22%, respectively. It’s worth noting, though, that NPD only tracked the listening habits of online audiences. As Billboard points out, that distinction creates a rather noticeable gap: NPD participants listened to 16.5 hours of audio per week, while Edison participants consumed nearly 29 hours.

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