New data revealed today by UK record labels association, the BPI, confirm just how crucial music has been to the British public and to national wellbeing during the COVID pandemic lockdowns of 2020.
These insights are based on data commissioned through AudienceNet’s Audiomonitor survey in November 20201, and are taken from All About the Music 2021 – the 42nd edition of the BPI Yearbook2, which will be published on 14th April. This authoritative industry annual evaluates 2020 UK music consumption and trends.
Music listening increased during lockdown
These new insights show that well over a quarter (28%) of all those surveyed said they had increased their music listening compared to pre-lockdown. Only 11% of those asked said they listened to less or no music at all. Music listening was most pronounced among 16 – 24 year-olds, with not far from half (45%) of all the respondents within this group saying they listened to more music since the first national lockdown.
The survey results reinforce a BPI market update on 4th January3 which reported that recorded music consumption in the UK rose by 8.2% in 2020, with 155 million albums or their equivalent either streamed or purchased by fans, including 139 billion audio streams, 16 million CDs, nearly 5 million vinyl LPs, and over 150,000 cassettes.
Why music was so important
Respondents who listened to music were asked why it was so important to them during lockdown. As many as half (50%) said they listened to music to raise their spirits, with 42% citing music’s ability to help them to relax or sleep. Four in 10 (40%) said music helped to alleviate boredom, while 27% used it as an aid to boost concentration when working or studying (a figure that rises to 50% among those aged 16 – 24)
A quarter of music listeners viewed it as an ideal accompaniment to exercise – a figure that’s slightly higher among women (27%) – and music was, of course, also valued for keeping families and households entertained, with just over a fifth (21%) noting the importance of this.
Music as an aid to coping with stress and anxiety
A fifth of the respondents reported having feelings of daily anxiety, although as a weekly figure this rose to 60% of all respondents. Of all those expressing feelings of stress and anxiety over half (55%) said that music helped to ease those feelings (rising to 60% among those aged 16 – 24). And of all those using music to help with stress and anxiety, almost everyone (94%) said that it helped to lift their mood, with 91% adding that it helped them to feel a sense of escape that allowed them to forget their problems.
Over three quarters (78%) of those asked said they felt more motivated after listening to music (rising to 81% among women). A broadly similar figure (73%) said they felt more able to manage their stress and anxiety levels thanks to music listening, while 62% said it made them feel better about themselves and more confident generally (rising to 72% among those aged 16 – 24 and 25 – 34).
Music as an aid to exercise and wellbeing
Music was a key component in keeping people motivated to exercise in lockdown. Of all those who went running, 72% did so with music as an accompaniment, with the figure for those undertaking gym/fitness activities (such as home workouts, interval sessions and yoga) rising to 75%.
Of all those exercising with music, 61% said that having music as an accompaniment had a moderate or major impact on duration (i.e. exercising for longer), while 54% said it had a moderate or major impact on frequency (i.e. exercising more often) and 61% said it had a moderate or major impact on intensity (i.e. working harder). Nearly three quarters (71%) said that it had a moderate or major impact on their enjoyment of the activity.
The music people listened to
In March the Official Charts Company in association with the BBC One “One Show” reported that many people had turned to classic songs and catalogue recordings during the first lockdown4, while at the end of 2020 the BPI reported the most consumed new releases of the year (based on Official Charts Company data). This included recordings by Dua Lipa, whose album Future Nostalgia was the most consumed album released in 2020, Kylie Minogue, whose album Disco was the most purchased 2020 release on vinyl, and Lady Gaga, whose album Chromatica was the top seller on cassette. The most consumed single of 2020 year was The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights. See Notes for link to BPI release/2020 Official Charts.
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize, said:
“Music has many intrinsic additional benefits, not least in raising spirits and promoting wellbeing, but this new research underscores just how much of a lifeline it’s been for people since lockdown – inspiring and reassuring us and also helping many of us to work, study and exercise to greater effect. The transformational power of music to improve lives has rarely been more pronounced.”
Notes to Editors
1 Based on data from AudienceNet’s AudioMonitor survey of 3,015 people interviewed, which was fielded in November 2020. Some questions were placed by BPI, others were in pre-existing sections on (1) Music and Mental Health and (2) Fitness. Some data is just part of Audiomonitor more generally.
2 BPI’s latest All About the Music 2021 yearbook is published 14th April 2021. It is free to BPI members but can be purchased when it goes live.
3 For more details of 2020 music consumption and a full list of Official Charts best-selling songs and albums in 2020 see here
4 In March 2020 The Official Charts Company published an Official UK Lockdown Listening List Top 100 here.
Data summary of AudienceNet’s AudioMonitor Survey
- Over a quarter (28%) of all respondents said they had listened to more music compared to pre-lockdown. Only 11% said less/no music
- The proportion listening to more music rose to 45% among 16 to 24 year-olds
- 50% of respondent listened to music to raise their spirits
- 42% used music to relax or sleep
- 40% felt music helps to alleviate boredom
- 27% saw it as a concentration aid with work, study etc.
- Rising to 50% among 16 to 24 year-olds
- 25% regarded music as an ideal accompaniment to exercise
- Slightly higher among women at 27%
- 21% looked to music to keep the family/household entertained
Music as aid to coping with stress/anxiety
- A fifth of respondents reported feeling of anxiety or stress daily, with 60% on weekly basis.
- Of all those expressing feelings of stress/anxiety:
- Over half (55%) said that music helped ease those feelings
- Rising to 60% among 16 to 24 year olds
- Of all those using music to help with stress/anxiety:
- 94% said it helped lift their mood
- 91% said it helps them escape and forget their problems
- 78% said they felt more motivated after listening (rising to 81% among women)
- 73% said they felt better able to manage their stress/anxiety after listening
- 62% said it made them feel better about themselves/more confident (rising to 72% with 16-24 & 25-34 year olds)
Music as aid to exercise
- 72% of those running did so with music as an accompaniment
- 75% of those undertaking gym/fitness activities did so with music as an accompaniment
- Of all those exercising with music:
- 61% said it had a moderate or major impact on duration (i.e. exercising for longer)
- 54% said it had a moderate or major impact on frequency (i.e. exercising more often)
- 61% said it had a moderate or major impact on intensity (i.e. working harder)
- 71% it had a moderate or major impact on their enjoyment