inZa Lab: Why Music is Key for Gen Z

inZa Lab: Why Music is Key for Gen Z

Mar 19, 2020 • 3 min

Music Above All Other Forms of Media

Recently, CDA performed an in-depth study on Gen Z media behaviors. and one of the most interesting insights we found was that Gen Zers, famously “addicted” to social media, overwhelmingly stated they would sooner give up social media than music, if forced to choose (81% of respondents).

Though it may be tempting for advertisers to focus on video and social engagement right now, it’s important that marketers take a step back and consider the authentic media habits and preferences of their target audience when putting together a media plan. For a Gen Z audience, that means music is a prime focus, even more than social. Here is some more background on the most important channel to Gen Z: music streaming.

Where do Gen Zers get their music?

When it came to the main source of music streaming for Gen Z, responses broke down as follows:

  • Spotify: 80%

  • Apple Music: 34%

  • Soundcloud: 36.2%

We asked two of our Gen Zers — Quynh and Grace — to discuss their feelings on popular streaming services:

“As someone who listens to music 24/7, I pay for Spotify Premium. I never thought I would switch to premium since you basically have the same functions on YouTube. But after the three month free trial of Spotify Premium, I realized I couldn’t live without it. I also use Soundcloud, which is free on the desktop to find underground music and mixes that my friends put out.” – Grace (age 21)

“I use Apple Music only because we’re bundled in the family sharing plan. One of the only ways I use Apple Music is to create playlists. For the most part, I find my music on YouTube because I enjoy watching the music videos and getting the visual representations for the song.” – Quynh (age 20)

Gen Z and Social Playlists

For past generations, it was an act of social engagement to burn CDs for friends or create mix tapes. Curating personalized playlists to be streamed is the new way young people share music with friends. Here are some thoughts from Gen Zers on this behavior:

“I find music to be the easiest way to manipulate how I feel. My music taste, which is constantly changing, is dependent on what mood I’m in- and my playlists reflect that. I have a playlist for everything: when I go for a run, am driving with friends, or just want to be productive. I also like asking my friends for a playlists of their favourite songs. With streaming apps it’s so easy to do and it tells me so much about them.” – Quynh

“I love music, so having the ability to choose the song I want and not have to shuffle until it comes on and to create my own playlists was something I was willing to pay for with Spotify. Music allows me to zone out and explore my mind creatively. I have multiple playlists for different things, whether it’s getting a good workout at the gym or allowing me to meditate and relax.” – Grace

The Future of Music and Ad-Free Streaming

For a generation that is so accustomed to being able to get what they want when they want it, many are opting to pay for ad-free music streaming services in order to further customize their music preferences.

Check out our 2019 Gen Z Insights Report to learn more about what drives Gen Zers to pay for music streaming services and why.


About inZa Lab

Emerging cultural differences stemming from rapid technological changes make it difficult for advertisers and marketers to keep up with the trends of the youngest named generation – Generation Z. In June 2019, we launched inZa Lab internship program designed to help CDA keep up with those changes.

In Korea, “Insider” is slang for someone who “gets it”, and “Insa” is short for “Insider”; someone who is plugged into the cultural zeitgeist and understands what is trending. As we are bringing in Gen Z interns and incorporating the “Insider” slang we named the program inZa Lab.

We hire Insider Trends Officers (ITO’s), to collect first-hand insights into the media consumption habits and preferences of their generational peers. Under the guidance and mentorship of CDA’s team, ITOs take an active role in a range of responsibilities related to day-to-day agency business, fully immersing yourself in different aspects of projects to promote clients and the agency itself. Additionally, ITOs provide their own authentic insights into marketing and advertising to a younger audience and drive targeted research into the social, entertainment, and purchasing factors relevant to different demographics.

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