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Music streaming in the Nordics: Subscriptions up by 14%


In the Nordic region, the number of inhabitants subscribing to a music streaming service has gone up by 14 per cent since 2018. At the same time, the share of paying users is now greater than that of users streaming exclusively through a free service. However, 68 per cent of the total music consumption still takes place on free services, reveals The Polaris Nordic Digital Music Survey 2020.

Today, half of the population of the Nordic countries pay for a music streaming service subscription. Across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, 49 per cent of all inhabitants now have a subscription to a music streaming service, which is a 14 per cent increase since 2018.

Conversely, the number of residents who only stream music through a free service has decreased. Therefore, the share of users paying to stream music now exceeds the share of listeners without subscriptions. Denmark, Norway and Finland are seeing the greatest increase in the number of subscribers.

All this is revealed in the Polaris Nordic Digital Music Survey 2020, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Polaris HUB, which is a joint venture between the Nordic collective rights management societies Koda (DK), TONO (NO) and Teosto (FIN). See the full report of the survey

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Many still listen for free

Despite a marked increase in the number of subscribers to music streaming services, 42 per cent of the Nordic population still listen exclusively to music via a free service. YouTube is by far the biggest in this regard: 75 per cent of residents in the Nordic countries have used YouTube to listen to music for free, while 39 per cent have used Spotify Free or their trial offerings, making it the second-largest free service. In total, 68 per cent of all music consumption takes place on free services.

When asked why they do not subscribe to a music streaming service, respondents state a variety of reasons, including that the subscriptions are too expensive and that there are so many free alternatives available that it makes no sense for them to pay.

The impact of coronavirus is showing as an increased use of streaming services

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the popularity of music and video streaming services was studied as part of the survey. Although the research interviews were conducted in early April (3. – 14.4.2020) when the restrictions due to the pandemic hadn’t been in place for long, an increase in the use of streaming services was evident.

On a Nordic level especially the use of Spotify and listening to music on Facebook and Instagram had increased quite significantly: Spotify and Instagram usage by 3% and Facebook usage by 5%. changes were also visible in the share of people subscribing to video streaming services with Netflix heading the growth by 3% increase. The daily time spent on different video streaming services increased as well. 

So far the share of paying and non-paying users of different streaming services remained unchanged on a Nordic level.

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Key figures

  • 49% of all Nordic residents pay for a music streaming subscription (2018: 43%t)
  • 42% of all Nordic residents exclusively listen to music via a free service (2018: 47%)
  • 75% of all Nordic residents have used YouTube to listen to music for free (2018: 74%)
  • 3.2 hours: the average amount of time spent by residents of the Nordic countries on music streaming a day
  • 62% of the total amount of music streamed (in terms of time) is streamed from free services

Pre-post coronavirus figures

  • Listening music on Facebook increased 5% (from 20% to 25%)
  • Spotify usage increased 3% (from 53% to 56%)
  • Listening music on Instagram increased 3% (from 12% to 15%)
  • Netflix subscriptions increased 3% (from 47% to 50%)

More information on trends, figures and an account of the survey methodology is available in the full report of the survey.

About the Polaris HUB

The Polaris Digital Music Survey was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Polaris HUB, a joint venture between the Nordic collective rights management societies Koda (DK), TONO (NO) and Teosto (FIN). Polaris HUB negotiates and enters into all agreements on the use of music on digital music services on behalf of the three societies. Read more about Polaris HUB.

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