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Study of digital music consumption: almost 90% of Nordic population use streaming services, but free services dominate


Almost everyone in the Nordics stream music, but only 43% are premium subscribers. Average music streaming time among all streamers is over 11 hours per week. The most frequently used service is YouTube, with Spotify as number two, but music is also prominently featured on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. Even though 69% of the Nordic population agrees that music creators should be compensated when their music is used in online services, the number of people using only free services has risen from 40% in 2017 to 47% in 2018.

This is evident from The Polaris Nordic Digital Music Survey 2018. Published today, the survey has been carried out as a collaborative project involving the three Nordic collecting societies Koda (DK), Teosto (FIN) and TONO (N). View all the infographics of the survey (pdf)

Free services dominate online music use with YouTube in the lead

The vast majority of all the inhabitants in the Nordic countries now use streaming services. Across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, a total of 90 per cent of all the inhabitants aged 12 to 65 have used at least one music streaming service over the course of the last year. 

However, a growing number of Nordic consumers are using only free services for their online use of music: 47% use free or trial versions only and do not have any paid subscription. 43% of the users are premium subscribers or are paying for music through a bundled service. National differences are significant: in Sweden 51% and in Norway 50% of the consumers have a paid subscription, and in Denmark it is 46% and in Finland 26%.

The most popular streaming service in the Nordic countries is YouTube. Within the last year, 74% of the population of the Nordic countries had used YouTube to stream music. Next on the list is Spotify: 54% of the population had used this service to stream music.  

Music prominent on Facebook, Instagram growing fast

Music is also prominently featured in social media, particularly Facebook. The survey shows that 20% of the Nordic population uses Facebook for watching music videos or videos containing music and 11% uses Instagram. The survey also reveals that 69% of the Nordic population agrees with the statement “I think it’s fair that online services, which use music as a part of their business, pay a share of their revenue to the creators of the music”.

The Polaris societies Koda, Teosto and TONO are, together with other European authors societies, continuously working on ensuring that platform services, typically social media, will be made eligible to pay rights holders fair remuneration when their music is used online. The survey reveals that a majority of the Nordic population agrees with this.

 “The recent explosion in digital music consumption is a very positive thing: it testifies to how the legal and well-functioning streaming services are easily available and accessible and have become part of everyday life. However, the number of people who use free services are, sadly, significant, says Anders Lassen, CEO of KODA.

“We are happy to see that more and more people are choosing paid premium subscriptions, but the “transfer of value” problem still needs fixing. Social media is also widely used for music consumption. It is necessary that online services, which use music as a part of their business, pay a share of their revenue to the creators of the music”, says Risto Salminen, CEO of Teosto.

 “Streaming services are still growing, and music is more easily available than ever before. We are pleased to see that so many people in the Nordics now prefer the premium subscriptions, and that they are happy to pay for their music consumption. However, the free services are still widely used, which makes it difficult for songwriters to make a decent living from music creation. We are particularly upset about the large use of music on Facebook not contributing to the livelihood for the songwriters, says Cato Strøm, CEO of TONO.

Nordic profile of people with a paid audio streaming service

  • No gender differences
  • 18-29 year olds and to a lesser degree 30-39 year olds
  • Yearly household income more often over EUR 93,000 (700,000 DKK/SEK/NOK)
  • More frequent concertgoers
  • Favourite music genres are: Rap/Hip-Hop, Alternative & Indie, RnB/Urban, Pop, Dance & Electronic
  • Much more frequent subscribers of TV/movie streaming services
  • Agree more that YouTube should pay musicians for their work displayed on the digital service
  • Agree more that the price for having access to all music through a paid subscription service is fair

Radio still number one source for finding new music

Radio remains the most often cited source for new music discovery in all four countries, followed by YouTube and dedicated music streaming services. 36% of the respondents selected “I heard it on the radio” when prompted for the source of discovery for the latest new track found to be good.

For young people (aged 12-29), the role of YouTube, friends and music streaming services was considerably higher for new music discovery, but radio plays a role in their lives as well. 

View all the infographics of the survey (pdf)

YouTube, as referred to in the study, is the free for users, ad-based service unless stated otherwise.

About the Polaris Nordic Digital Music Survey 2018

The Polaris Nordic Digital Music survey was conducted by YouGov in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden in September 2018. The data collection was carried out online using the Nordic YouGov Panel and the national representative sample of men/women aged 15-65 and children aged 12-14 was +1,000 in each country. The survey was commissioned by the three Nordic collecting societies Koda (Denmark), TEOSTO (Finland) and Tono (Norway), who formed the Polaris Nordic Alliance in 2013. The survey is the fourth of its kind; the first was carried out in 2014.

For more information or to set up an interview, please contact:
Koda                                                Teosto                                            Tono                                                                            
Eva Hein                                          Ano Sirppiniemi                           Willy Martinsen
Head of Communications           Head of Research                       Head of Communications      
eh(@)                                ano.sirppiniemi(@)        willy.martinsen(@)
Tel. +45 6189 3233                    Tel. +358 50 325 6530             Tel. +47 909 65 254

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