Younger Than Millennials – How Does Gen Z Feel About The Internet? Hint: They Need YouTube

Here’s something to make you think. Earlier this week, Adweek magazine published an article about the uprising of Generation Z. Defined as those born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z is the demographic that grew up in a digital world. Millennials may remember a pre-Internet age, but Gen Z has never been without it – and many of them are getting old enough to be a significant buying power. So how do those kids feel about the ever-present Internet, and how does it affect their spending?

Adweek surveyed just under 1500 teenagers between the ages of 13-20 to get their opinions on the Internet, and put together an interesting infographic (below). Some fast facts:

  • 95% of respondents use YouTube. Instagram is the next biggest social media app, at 69%.
  • 50% of respondents answered they “can’t live without” YouTube.
  • 48% of Gen Z trusts online stars for beauty product recommendations, while 44% trust more traditional mainstream stars.
  • 70% of Gen Z trusts online stars on tech gadgets, but only 21% can say the same for mainstream stars.
  • 79% are fine with celebs endorsing a brand when they’re talking about why they like or use it.
  • 66% use YouTube for how-to info, 51% use it for funny entertainment, and 24% use it for shopping recommendations – all the top choice for each category.

So what does this mean for music? Well, it’s no secret that YouTube is a big player in the music industry. Market research from 2016 showed that 39% of Millennial and Gen Z music listeners listen weekly on YouTube, and that music listening makes up 12% of the website’s traffic. The video streaming giant paid out roughly $740 million in rights payments, and along with Vevo covers 55% of music-related ad revenue. That’s a huge deal, so let’s say it again: ads tacked on to music on YouTube and Vevo covers more than half of the money musicians can possibly make from ads on their tracks.

Clearly, YouTube is a big money-maker for the music industry. And Gen Z obviously really appreciates YouTube. Put them together and let your imagination run a bit, and you may just envision what the music industry looks like in a few years as Gen Z’s buying power peaks. Keep in mind, they’re only hitting their 20s now and have yet to make much money. Could social stars be hocking the next big band or listening apparatus? Will YouTube expand its music licensing and streaming? Can streaming services like Spotify ever catch up? Will YouTube be the actual killer of the radio star? As usual, all we can do is sit tight and see. Or wait for more market research.

Mathew Kahansky

Once upon a time, Mat studied journalism. That's how he became Alan's one-time intern and current-time contributor, and the rest is ongoing history - get it? Mat also studied biology and music, so he has a strangely specific knowledge set that doesn't really apply anywhere other than useless fun facts. He currently works for a music tech start-up in Halifax, and is a big fan of the em dash.

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