Gen Z is transforming culture by blurring the lines between consumption and creation: Spotify Culture Next report


More than 50% of those belonging to Gen Z in India said they joined a digital community, such as a subreddit or Discord, as a fan of a particular creator, according to a report from the audio streaming platform. The report also highlights the deepening relationship between creators and listeners and more.

Spotify has announced the fourth volume of Culture Next, its annual report on global culture and trends. This year, the focus is on the role of Gen Z as tastemakers, fans, and most importantly, individuals navigating and defining their place in the world of audio.

This is the third year India has featured in the report, out of a total of 17 Spotify markets.

In India, the report highlights the deep relationship between creators and listeners, the role of audio in exploring all facets of the listener’s personality, the growing importance of podcasts as trustworthy “friends” and the integration of nostalgia into contemporary culture.

Below are the main points to remember:

Generation Z is revolutionizing the relationship between audio creators and their fans.

The creator-fan relationship is evolving into a two-way exchange from a one-way broadcast with creators using the digital worlds built by them or their fans to foster tight-knit communities with deeper, more meaningful connections.

  • As creators, their approach to music and podcasts is creating entirely new aesthetics, genres and fandoms, and as listeners, their tastes and habits are fluid and speak volumes about who they are.
  • Conversations between artists and fans via social media and social audio add even more access and intimacy to the creator-fan relationship.
  • Gen Z’s audio immersions are even getting fancy with almost 90% of them in India having listened to music from a movie or show they love in order to feel like a character from the story.
  • More than 50% of Zs in India said they joined a digital community, such as a subreddit or Discord, as a fan of a particular creator.

What does this mean for brands?

Brands can bridge the gap between audio creators and their biggest fans by passing the mic to the creators. Create a podcast or turn a podcast ad campaign into an audio series that features bonus content from hosts, like unaired bloopers and candid conversations. This creates a connection between the listener, their favorite podcaster or artist, and the brand.

Generation Z is finding new ways to express their individuality through digital audio.

Generation Z grew up not only with the freedom and inspiration to be different, but also with the need to stand out. Nothing lets them explore and share their unique taste more than audio.

  • 80% of Zs in India said audio allowed them to explore the outer limits of culture that they otherwise would not have experienced. But more than that, audio takes them to the edge of themselves – 85% said audio allows them to explore different sides of their personality.
  • Just over 80% of Zs in India believe their listening habits tell who they are and feel they have learned something about themselves by examining their listening habits.
  • Globally, creators of this generation are also using audio to bring alter egos into the mainstream. The same sentiment is found in India, with 71% of Zs enjoying the fact that audio creators adopt different personas or personas.

What does this mean for brands?

Zs seek out opportunities to embrace the unique and multifaceted aspects of who they are. With fluid personalities that can change over days (or hours), try using a playlist builder that analyzes their listening habits to reveal something new about themselves. Brands can also sponsor playlists that prioritize quality and genres last, and target micro-genres. And finally, they can embed discovery into Z’s daily routine with Spotify’s real-time audience and contextual targeting to reach the right Z’s at the right time with fresh and unexpected messages.

Gen Z is turning to podcasts to address life’s most complex issues.

Podcasts have seen a significant increase, especially among 18-24 year olds, as they have evolved from a source of entertainment to a tool for education and learning.

  • With Zs feeling more stressed than Millennials, the former have an increased need to process their raw emotions, and audio, especially podcasts, provides essential support.
  • In the past year alone, average podcast listening among Zs in India has seen a whopping 141% increase on Spotify between Q1 2022 and the previous year. Today, nearly two-thirds of 18-24 year olds in India listen to podcasts at least once a week.
  • Just over 75% of Zs in India said they turn to podcasts to get difficult or personal questions answered before telling their family, and 74% of the same group said they listen to podcasts to inform conversations they have with their friends. .
  • Mental Health, the number one Z podcast genre globally, has seen impressive growth with a 56% increase in the number of Z streams in India in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the previous year.

What does this mean for brands?

It is possible to use “host reads” to build trust. Since podcasts are such an intimate audio format, Gen Z feels especially close to their favorite hosts. Use Host Talent ads, created and voiced by the show’s host in the style of the show, in podcasts where personal anecdotes can complement a clear brand message.

Gen Z breaks new ground by filtering throwbacks through a contemporary lens.

While all generations fondly remember past eras, Z’s reinvent nostalgia. With the instability of the past few years, nostalgia has been shown to provide a sense of comfort in the midst of uncertainty, for this generation.

  • When asked to rank the emotion they felt the most when listening to music from the past, Zs were overall as likely to say “energized” as they were to say “comfort.”
  • On social media, the Z’s mix old hits with new visual trends like lip-syncs, dances, makeup tutorials, fit checks, and more — to go viral.
  • Just over 75% of Zs in India appreciate brands bringing back old aesthetic styles.
  • 74% of Zs in India said they enjoy listening to and watching media from previous decades because it reminds them of when things were simpler.

What does this mean for brands?

The Z’s are nostalgic, but they’re also forward-looking. Brands can use contextual targeting to reach them as they listen to nostalgic, sentimental and other playlists, or even invite an artist to chat about how they draw inspiration from music from the past. They can also bring your brand sound to life with curated branded playlists, linking it to decades and genres that match your brand personality.

According to Arjun Kolady, Head of Sales – India, Spotify, “Self-expression and creativity are essential parts of how Gen Z navigate the world. Now, they not only rely on musical artists, podcasts and playlists to shape the stories they tell about themselves, but they also invite brands to reflect and spread their personal stories. Brands have the opportunity to not only support their journeys, but also to discover the life they live and their view of the world, especially through Spotify’s diverse range of audio content combined with its advertising offerings.

For more information, readers can access the full report here.

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