Tag Archives: music tastes

Coleman Insights Study Reveals Sharp Musical Divide Between Trump and Biden Supporters

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, May 19, 2020 – Consumers with a positive opinion of President Donald Trump have an overwhelming affinity for Country music. Fans of former Vice President Joe Biden favor Pop, followed closely by Hip Hop/R&B. These are among the previously unreleased findings of Coleman Insights’ second annual “Contemporary Music SuperStudy.”

The study conducted by the media research firm examines the appetite for contemporary music among 12- to 54-year-olds across the United States and Canada. The firm’s FACT360SM Strategic Music Test platform is utilized to measure the appeal of the most consumed songs of 2019 based on radio airplay, streaming and sales data, as reported by MRC Data/BDSradio.

Among consumers who have a positive opinion of President Trump, Country represents 50% of their Top 100 titles. The next-highest testing genre is Pop at 26%, the only other genre achieving a double-digit share of the Top 100 contemporary songs. This is followed by a tie between Alternative/Rock and Hip Hop/R&B (9%), Dance/Electronic (4%), Other (2%) and Latin (0%)

Meanwhile, Pop titles perform best among consumers with a positive opinion of former Vice President Joe Biden. These titles comprise 38% of their Top 100, followed closely by Hip Hop/R&B at 33%. Performance of other genres includes a tie between Alternative/Rock and Country (10%), Dance/Electronic (6%), Latin (2%) and Other (1%).

Notably, the 10% of Country titles in the Top 100 of Biden fans is similar to the 9% of R&B/Hip Hop in the Top 100 among those who view Trump positively.

The best-testing song overall among supporters of President Trump is “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, while “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran is the top pick among Biden supporters. Those two songs and three others–“Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi, “The Middle” by Zedd & Maren Morris and “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake–are among the top ten songs of both groups.

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, Trump and Biden supporters agree on their least favorite of 2019’s most consumed songs–“Baby Shark” by Pinkfong.

”While we are not in the business of giving political advice, there are some clear takeaways from this study for the Trump and Biden campaigns,” said Coleman Insights president Warren Kurtzman. “When considering music to use in stage entrances at rallies (if and when they return) and advertising efforts, each group of supporters has clear, distinct genre preferences. And it’s probably best for both campaigns to pass on using ’Baby Shark.’”

Coleman Insights has released findings and trends from this year’s study via webinar, on the firm’s Tuesdays With Coleman blog, at ColemanInsights.com as well as on social media including Facebook and Twitter.

The Musical Divide Between Trump and Biden Supporters

Tuesdays With Coleman

With the United States roughly six months away from its next presidential election, how similar or different are the most popular contemporary titles among the fans of the two major parties’ presumed nominees? In two words, the answer is “very different.”

In our final blog on the findings of Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2, we delve into findings we have yet to release regarding the relationship that exists between consumers’ political opinions and how they feel about contemporary music. In this time when common ground and bipartisanship can be hard to find, we observe similar differences when it comes to the contemporary music tastes of consumers.

Among consumers who have a positive opinion of President Donald Trump, Country reigns supreme—an overwhelming 50% of their Top 100 titles are Country songs. At 26%, Pop is the only other genre achieving a double-digit share of the Top 100 contemporary songs with Trump fans.

Musical tastes of those with positive opinions of President Trump and Joe Biden

The Top 100 songs among fans of former Vice President Joe Biden, however, look very different. They are led by Pop titles at 38%, followed closely by Hip Hop/R&B at 33%. Consumers with a positive opinion of Biden place a much smaller proportion of Country titles—10%—in their Top 100, which is interestingly almost the same amount as the 9% of Hip Hop/R&B titles than finish in the Top 100 with those who view Trump positively.

While these findings may be disconcerting for those who long for less division in American political discourse, our findings do provide a few rays of hope. For example, while the Trump fans’ selection of “Believer” by Imagine Dragons as their favorite among 2019’s most consumed songs is different from Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” as the choice among Biden fans, both of these titles finish among the top ten songs with both groups. Furthermore, there are three other songs—“Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi, “The Middle” by Zedd & Maren Morris and “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake—that are among the top ten songs with Trump and Biden fans.

Perhaps the best example of bipartisanship, however, is that Trump and Biden fans have one clear thing in common: their hatred of “Baby Shark.” The Pinkfong song, which was the least popular title overall among 2019’s most consumed songs, was also the least popular with both groups.

Before we delve into our findings further, we should share more details about the political data in the study. We regarded fans of Biden and Trump as those who had “very positive” or “somewhat positive” opinions of each. Therefore, it is relevant to note that the research—conducted with 1,000 12- to 54-year-olds across the United States and Canada—was in the field between late January and early March, before Biden emerged as the clear front-runner in the race for the Democratic Party nomination and before the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects began impacting American and Canadian society. In our data, 41% of the respondents were Joe Biden fans; the corresponding figure for Donald Trump was 32%.

Not surprisingly, the differences we observe between the contemporary music tastes of fans of the two presidential candidates align with the differences we see when we break our respondents into groups based on their political leaning. Among the 39% of respondents who describe themselves as “liberal” or “moderate, who leans liberal,” Pop and Hip Hop/R&B titles make up a combined 68% of their Top 100 songs.

Music tastes of those leaning Liberal or Conservative

Those who describe themselves as “conservative” or “moderate, who leans conservative”—a group that comprises 28% of the sample—have a strong appetite for Country music, as 48% of their Top 100 titles are from this genre. Another 27% of their Top 100 consists of Pop titles.

At Coleman Insights, our expertise is focused on how people consume music and other forms of audio entertainment, so we are loathe to give out political advice. With that caveat, we believe there are some obvious lessons from Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2 for the Biden and Trump campaigns, at least when it comes to the music that should accompany their candidates’ stage entrances at rallies (when and if those return) and be featured in their advertising efforts. No matter what, it should be an interesting race.

How Platform Choice Impacts Contemporary Music Tastes

Tuesdays With ColemanOver the last couple of weeks, we’ve learned quite a bit about the current state of contemporary music. Among many other findings, this year’s study of the current tastes of 1,000 12- to 54-year-olds across the United States and Canada has indicated a rise in the appeal of Country, a slightly older lean to the best-testing titles and a downtrend for Pop, Hip Hop/R&B and Dance/Electronic. This week, we’ll focus on how the genres of the best-testing songs vary based upon consumers’ choice of platform. For example, the best testing genres among radio users look different than those of streaming users. Pandora fans look different than those consumers who prefer Spotify. Why do we find these differences so interesting? Because programmers are barraged with data from different sources every day. A song’s amazing number of streams on Spotify, for instance, might be used as an argument why it belongs on your radio station. Or the fact that “everyone” on Pandora is flocking to a particular style suggests that you should move your programming in that direction.

But is it really that simple?

The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights”, which has strong radio airplay, is #1 on the Spotify Top 200 Chart. “D4L” by Future, Drake & Young Thug debuts at #1 on Pandora’s Top Spins chart. “The Scotts” by The Scotts (Travis Scott and Kid Cudi) which debuted during a live virtual Fortnite event that attracted over 27 million unique participants, bowed at #1 on the Billboard streaming chart last week.  Does that mean these are the most popular songs in North America—or that they are popular among people who listen to your format? Not necessarily, particularly if the people who are using radio or streaming on a daily basis have different music tastes.

Travis Scott and Kid Cudi’s collaboration debuted at #1 on Billboard’s streaming chart with a boost from a live Fortnite event.

That’s why understanding the different profiles of consumers of these various platforms should matter to you. It should help you appreciate what all those stats being thrown at you really mean.

For starters, the best testing songs of people who use radio every day look a lot different than those of daily streamers. What’s the big difference? The Top 100 among daily radio listeners contains a large percentage of Pop and Country, and a smaller amount of Hip Hop/R&B. About a third (32%) of the Top 100 of Daily Radio Listeners is Pop and 29% Country, but only 19% Hip Hop/R&B. Daily Streaming Listeners, on the other hand, have much more Hip Hop/R&B (29%) and far less Country (only 15%).

Does that mean Daily Radio Listeners don’t like contemporary Hip Hop? No. It means when we look at Daily Radio Listeners as a group overall, they gravitate toward Pop and Country among contemporary genres. You are more likely to find interest in Pop or Country when you take a broad look at regular radio users.

We see other notable differences when we compare the Top 100 of Pandora, Spotify and YouTube fans. Consumers who prefer Pandora over other streaming services have a tremendous amount of Country in their Top 100—39%. They also have 26% Pop but significantly less Hip Hop/R&B at only 17%. Those who prefer Spotify go in the opposite direction. They have a very large percentage of Pop (39%) and a good amount of Hip Hop/R&B (26%)—but very little Country, only 9%. YouTube fans look very similar to Spotify fans.

The point is that people who prefer Pandora have much more Country in the songs they rate best; those who prefer Spotify and YouTube have more Pop and Hip Hop/R&B in their Top 100 songs. We sometimes tend to think of streaming users as homogeneous, but they are not. The profile of consumers who prefer different streaming services are distinct—and it is important to keep this in mind when we look at data coming from various sources. And that’s true of almost every different platform we analyzed.

Dan + Shay’s “Tequila” tested #22 overall in Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2 with those who prefer Pandora over other streaming services, #48 with those who prefer Spotify and #55 with those who prefer YouTube.

Next week, we’ll dive into the political fray–to discover the respective taste differences between supporters of President Trump and Joe Biden. In an environment in which common ground and bipartisanship can be hard to find, can these two polarized groups find musical consensus?

Don’t miss next week’s Tuesdays With Coleman to find out.

Contemporary Music Trends: Country Is Up

Tuesdays With Coleman

Last week, we shared some of the major findings of Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2—our second annual test of the past year’s biggest songs in streaming, sales and radio airplay, conducted with 1,000 people between the ages of 12 and 54 across the United States and Canada. These initial findings include that Pop is the best-testing genre, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” is the most popular title and Post Malone has the highest number of top tier songs.

This week, let’s take a look at some of the interesting trends between last year’s study and this one. (Note that some of the trended data looks a little different than as reported a year ago because of adjustments in scoring methodology; we have applied the revised methodology to the older study so that we have apples-to-apples comparisons.)

COUNTRY’S SHARE OF THE 100 MOST POPULAR CONTEMPORARY SONGS HAS NEARLY DOUBLED

While Pop remains the best-performing genre, the award for “most improved” goes to Country. Country titles have gone from 12% of the Top 100 in the original Contemporary Music SuperStudy to 23% of the Top 100 in Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2.

Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2 Genre Distribution Trend

For context, Country’s performance in last year’s Contemporary Music SuperStudy was not great. In that research, Country music accounted for 21% of all songs tested, but just 12% of the Top 100—a substantial level of under-performance. In this year’s Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2, Country again represents 21% of all songs tested, but its 23% share of the Top 100 now shows a modest level of over-performance for the genre.

The improvement in Country is largely the result of songs that weren’t in last year’s study, either because they hadn’t been released yet or because they weren’t consumed enough in streaming, sales or radio airplay to qualify for the test list. Of the 23 Country songs in the Top 100 of Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2, 15 weren’t tested in the first Contemporary Music SuperStudy. The remaining eight performed well in the original study, all in the Top 125.

No one artist dominates Country performance, though several have multiple popular titles. Dan + Shay, Jason Aldean and Luke Combs each have three of the 23 Country songs in the Top 100. In particular, Dan + Shay stand out for having three of the top five Country titles.

Dan + Shay have three of the top five Country titles in Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2.

Several of the most popular Country songs might be considered “poppy” in sound, but that is not a new development and it tends to be true of any genre. Mass appeal titles are oftentimes rather accessible and broadly appealing. Almost by definition, the biggest hits are the ones whose appeal expands beyond their core lane. “Meant To Be” by Bebe Rexha featuring Florida-Georgia Line is the top-testing Country song in both last year’s study and this year’s study.

POP, HIP HOP/R&B AND DANCE/ELECTRONIC HAVE TRENDED DOWN

While Country’s share of the 100 most popular contemporary songs has grown most substantially, a few other categories are also up a bit. Alternative/Rock has gone from 11% to 12%, Latin has increased 0% to 2%, and Other—which covers songs that do not fit into one of the six major genres—now makes up 2% of the Top 100, up from 0% last year.

Meanwhile, performing less well in Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2 than in the first Contemporary Music SuperStudy are Pop (declining from 42% to 34% of the Top 100), Hip Hop/R&B (23% to 19%) and Dance/Electronic (12% to 8%).

THE PERCENTAGE OF TOP 100 TITLES FROM THE MOST RECENT YEAR IS DOWN SLIGHTLY

In the first Contemporary Music SuperStudy, we tested the songs that were most streamed, sold and played on the radio in 2018. This included material from 2018 back to 2014. Of the 100 most popular titles in that research, 40% were released in the most recent year, 2018.

Now, in Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2, we have tested the songs that were most consumed via streaming, sales and radio airplay in 2019. This includes songs from 2019 back to 2015. Of the Top 100, 36% were released in the most recent year, 2019.

Thus, in relative terms, the best-testing songs in Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2 are not quite as contemporary as the best-testing songs were in the original Contemporary Music SuperStudy.

THIS YEAR’S #1 SONG WAS LAST YEAR’S #2 SONG

As noted earlier, the most popular song in Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2 is Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You.” This title did not come out of nowhere—it ranked #2 in last year’s Contemporary Music SuperStudy.

Which title was ahead of “Shape Of You” in last year’s study? That would be “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars—a song that didn’t quite make the qualification cut for this year’s study because of its consumption metrics and age.

Check back next week for further insights from Contemporary SuperStudy 2, including findings about the differences in tastes between younger and older, male and female, urban and rural, and streaming service listeners and radio listeners.

Contemporary Music’s Report Card

Tuesdays With Coleman

While most students are out of school as the fight against COVID-19 continues, my Coleman Insights colleagues and I are preparing a report card. On Thursday, we will release the results of our Contemporary Music SuperStudy 2, a test of the most-consumed songs in 2019 conducted with 1,000 respondents across the United States and Canada. (If you have yet to sign up for our free webinar when we will release our findings, you can do so here.)

As its name implies this is the second time we have conducted a Contemporary Music SuperStudy; roughly a year ago, we released the findings of our inaugural study in a keynote presentation at the Worldwide Radio Summit. That first edition of the study provided many important insights, including how Hip Hop/R&B had a sizeable fanbase but generated highly polarized responses from consumers, that Pop titles performed best overall and were popular among fans of other genres and how Country fared much better with daily radio listeners than with daily streaming listeners. We also reported fun facts, including how “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars was not only the most popular song of 2018 (even though it was released in 2014), but it also was rated highest by supporters and detractors of Donald Trump.

Warren Kurtzman delivering the Contemporary Music SuperStudy at Worldwide Radio Summit

Here’s me delivering the inaugural Contemporary Music SuperStudy results at 2019’s Worldwide Radio Summit (in front of an actual live audience!)

Why are we doing this again? Perhaps the most common questions clients ask us are about trends in the tastes of audio entertainment consumers, especially when it comes to music. “What’s the next big sound?” “Is Country making a comeback?” “Are Pop fans more or less accepting of Hip Hop than they used to be?” “Does Dance/Electronic music have staying power?” While we are fortunate to see enough research prepared for radio stations, streaming services, etc. to be able to answer these questions with a high level of confidence, replicating the Contemporary SuperStudy gives us the opportunity to do so with an even greater level of objectivity and from a broader vantage point than studies conducted for individual clients provide. Comparing how a representative sample of Americans and Canadians responds to some of the most-consumed songs of 2019 to how they did so with the songs they consumed the most in 2018 will provide deep insights into how contemporary music tastes are changing.

The key to this, of course, is taking a very consistent approach with how we complete the Contemporary Music SuperStudy each year. We not only use the same research methodology (utilizing the platform we use for the FACT360SM Strategic Music Tests we complete for radio stations) and the same sample design, we follow a consistent set of rules for building the list of songs we test. Our partners at MRC Data/BDSradio provide us with data detailing the most consumed songs via radio airplay, streaming and sales over the course of the previous year. We drop any songs that are at least five years old and then add songs that are among the most consumed from each major genre so that each of the major genres that make up the world of contemporary music receive adequate representation.

In our webinar this Thursday and through subsequent Tuesdays With Coleman blog posts and social media posts, we will share a wide array insights from the Contemporary Music SuperStudy. Some will consist of fun facts, such as the best- and worst-testing titles overall. I can reveal to you now that Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” was last year’s most consumed song via on-demand streaming and sales according to MRC Data/BDSradio, while Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker” ruled the roost in radio airplay. Will either of those titles finish at the top? In a similar vein, Post Malone has ten titles in this year’s study, more than any other artist. Which Post Malone title do consumers like the most?

Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" was 2019's most-consumed song via on-demand streaming and sales

Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” was 2019’s most consumed song via on-demand streaming and sales according to MRC Data/BDSradio

More importantly, some of the findings we release will update important findings from last year’s study. For example, last year we revealed that the Pop genre outperformed Hip Hop/R&B, Country, Alternative/Rock, Dance/Electronic and Latin. Will that be the case this year and will any sounds experience significant improvements or declines? We will also share with you how genre performances vary by a wide array of factors, including gender, age, ethnicity, geography and audio platform usage.

You can probably tell by now that I am excited for releasing our latest report card on contemporary music. (Probably not as excited as those of you with kids at home are about the prospect of schools reopening, but my colleagues and I are really looking forward to sharing our insights with you!) After all, music tastes change; that’s why we track them.

I hope you can join us for Thursday’s Contemporary Music SuperStudy webinar.

What Shapes Our Music Tastes

Tuesdays With Coleman

Coleman Insights is releasing findings from its Contemporary Music SuperStudy in a four-part blog series, followed by a free webinar on April 30th in which the findings will be covered in greater depth. Details to register for that webinar are below.

In the two previous installments of Tuesdays With Coleman, we shared two primary findings from our Contemporary Music SuperStudy:

1)            Hip Hop/R&B was the most consumed genre of 2018 and is the music style that invokes the most passion. On the other hand, Hip Hop/R&B is significantly polarizing.

2)            Of the six genres of music represented in our study—Hip Hop/R&B, Pop, Country, Alternative/Rock, Electronic/Dance and Latin—Pop is the one sound that is highly popular with fans of every other genre.

This week, we’ll dig into demographics and reveal how age, gender and geography impacts music tastes. In addition, you’ll see the difference between daily streaming listeners and daily radio listeners—a finding that will illustrate why the radio airplay and streaming charts look different from one another.

POP OVER-PERFORMS WITH ALL AGE GROUPS, WHILE COUNTRY AND HIP HOP/R&B HAVE HEAVILY SKEWED AGE APPEAL

As we illustrated in our previous blog, Pop is the “glue” of contemporary music. Pop over-performs with the younger and older listeners in our study. Although Pop makes up only 19% of the titles we tested, it represents 42% of the Top 100 songs among 12- to 34-year-olds and 37% of the Top 100 with consumers between the ages of 35 and 54.

The appetites for Country lean significantly older; in fact, only one Country song—“Meant To Be” by Bebe Rexha (featuring Florida Georgia Line), a song that clearly straddles the Pop line—finishes among the Top 100 titles with 12- to 34-year-olds. In the 35-54 demographic, however, Country is very strong, making up 37% of the Top 100 songs, much higher than the 21% presence of Country titles in the study.

Conversely, Hip Hop/R&B is much stronger with younger listeners than with older listeners. These titles represent 33% of the test list and slightly over-perform with 12- to 34-year-olds, making up 35% of their Top 100 songs. Among 35- to 54-year-olds, however, Hip Hop/R&B’s Top 100 presence stands at only 7%.

Neither Dance/Electronic or Alternative/Rock demonstrates significant age skews with similar presences among the Top 100 songs with younger and older listeners. Latin titles are not significantly present among the Top 100 songs with either age group.

MEN MORE LIKELY TO LOVE HIP HOP/R&B, DANCE/ELECTRONIC AND ALTERNATIVE/ROCK; WOMEN MORE LIKELY TO LOVE COUNTRY

The most significant difference in contemporary genre appeal between genders is with Country. While Country represents 21% of the test list, it represents only 8% of the Top 100 with men. But Country actually slightly over-performs with women, representing 22% of their Top 100.

Hip Hop/R&B underperforms with both genders, while Dance/Electronic significantly over-performs with men and Alternative/Rock looks solid with men and women.

Which genre do men and women love equally? You guessed it…Pop. In fact, Pop’s 41% and 42% presence in the Top 100s of men and women, respectively, is more than twice the 19% presence of Pop titles in our study.

HIP HOP/R&B, DANCE/ELECTRONIC AND POP OVER-PERFORM IN URBAN AREAS, WHILE COUNTRY DOMINATES AMONG RURAL CONSUMERS

Hip Hop/R&B shows the most passion with those who live in urban areas, and least passion with those who live in rural areas. Meanwhile, the appeal of Country is dramatically rural. Country represents 21% of the test list, but 36% of the Top 100 titles with rural residents. Dance/Electronic over-performs with urban and suburbanites. Two genres over-perform with residents of all three geographic areas—Alternative/Rock and Pop.

THIS IS WHY STREAMING CHARTS ARE SO DIFFERENT FROM RADIO AIRPLAY CHARTS

Programmers often ask us, “Why are streaming charts so different from radio airplay charts?” The answer is simple: Consumers who use streaming frequently are more likely to be big Hip Hop/R&B fans, while the appetite for Country music is much stronger among daily radio listeners than it is with those who use audio streaming every day.

This helps explain why there’s so much Hip Hop/R&B and so little Country on the streaming chart.

Despite this finding, it is noteworthy that Pop is the only contemporary music genre that substantially over-performs with daily streamers and daily radio users. In comparison to the 19% presence of Pop titles in the study, they make up 43% of the Top 100 songs with daily streaming users and 40% of the Top 100 songs with daily radio listeners.

MORE FROM THE CONTEMPORARY MUSIC SUPERSTUDY

Next Tuesday, we’ll reveal the Top 10 songs in our Contemporary Music SuperStudy. And of course, we’ll also tell you which song brings up the rear.

We’ll also demonstrate for you the huge contemporary music taste differences we observe between those who have positive opinions of Donald Trump versus those with negative impressions of the President. Don’t fret, however, as there is hope in our finding that the same song is number one with Trump supporters and detractors. Check out our blog next week to learn what “the great unifier” is!

Register now for our Contemporary Music SuperStudy Deep Dive webinar, Tuesday, April 30 from 2p-3p EDT when we’ll provide an extended version of our Worldwide Radio Summit presentation and further insights into the current state of contemporary music.