For the past several years, music streaming services have been a top priority, with many major brands (including industry heavyweights like Apple and online retail mammoth Amazon) joining the chorus. During the peak of lockdowns in the U.S., CivicScience reported a decrease in music streaming. So how is music streaming faring now? 

As data from the last month show, 27% of U.S. adults are using exclusively free services, which is on par with our last report. However, the percentage of those who use mostly paid streaming services has decreased to 14%, while those who use paid and free has increased to 18%.

With a broader lens, we can see that use of free versus paid music streaming services has gone back to pre-pandemic levels. The biggest shift in music streaming took place in February, March, and April. However, the scales tipped again in July–perhaps as people returned to work, commutes, or the gym. 

While music listening of both paid and free varieties may be generally returning to pre-pandemic levels, some Americans have chosen to tune paid subscriptions out altogether. As the data show, 20% of U.S. adults who paid for music streaming have canceled a paid subscription in the last six months. 

And there’s a clear correlation between cancelations and outlook on the pandemic. Those who have canceled multiple subscriptions are also the most likely to believe the pandemic is going to last more than four months.

Despite shifting interests, music streaming services of some kind are used by 59% of U.S. adults. Vinyls, by contrast, are enjoyed by just 11%. And although that percentage is up 1% from last year, that number was relatively unchanged by the increased amount of time spent indoors during the lockdowns, earlier this year. 

Top Streaming Services 

Among the major music streaming services, Pandora and Spotify show near-equal levels of U.S. adults tuning in. 

Of those who open Pandora’s (music)box, the largest demographic are adults aged 25 to 34, followed closely by those aged 35 to 54. 

Spotify Streams in Second

The second most popular music streaming service is Spotify, with 21% of U.S. adults listening in the past month. Spotify has also seen a slight decrease in users since earlier in the year.

And younger adults are clamoring for this service. In fact, the data shows a strong correlation between age and Spotify usage, with users skewing heavily 18 to 24 years old. 

At this point, music streaming has regained much of the ground it lost during the lockdowns earlier this year. However, while some are getting back to their previous listening routine, a sizable percentage of Americans have already cancelled a paid music subscription. While the cause of canceling could vary widely, at least for some, it seems that outlook on the lasting impact of the virus (and the ways it is changing activities) could be partially to blame.