How Do Kids Discover New Music?

Kids’ music consumption has dramatically changed in the last 20 years. Gone are the days of discovering new artists on Top of the Pops and weekend morning shows like T4. Now, besides songs featured on reality shows or prime time performances, TV no longer reigns as our go-to source for music discovery. 

Kids today are listening to their favourite music through Spotify (11%), Alexa devices (19%), and most popular, on YouTube (61%). However, when it comes to discovering music, the most notable platform is TikTok. The short-form video platform is treading on YouTube’s heels, with 33% of the kids we surveyed discovering new music there. Kids are searching for viral TikTok songs from their favourite trending videos. Spotify now has playlists that specifically list the latest viral TikTok songs.

Through hundreds of conversations with the Youth Trend Spotting community, I’ve learned more about their journey of music discovery. From gaming soundtracks to TikTok and YouTube, there has never been more music readily available, but is that leading to more fandom?

TikTok

Since its surge in popularity, TikTok’s viral videos are benefiting artists and delivering Spotify streams as kids leave the app to look up and listen to their favourite songs. Songs such as ‘Runaway’ by Aurora are seeing chart success years after initial release, thanks to trending TikTok videos. 

“I’ve got an app called TikTok, so when I scroll through there is a lot of music. When I hear a sound I like, I click on the song and then search it on YouTube.”
Girl, 8

“My favourite song is Miahee Majahoo. I found it on TikTok on my Auntie’s phone.”
Girl, 9

As kids latch onto trends, there is a disconnect between them and the artists. When we ask kids what music they’re listening to at the moment, they answer with song titles that they have heard on TikTok but struggle to remember the artist’s name. With music so readily and freely available to us, kids only need to ask Alexa to play trending songs or hit play on a viral playlist. Yet, as a result, they do not develop the same attachment to artists. 

“I normally just search TikTok songs 2021.”
Girl, 15

We know that kids love music, so there’s an opportunity for record labels to form a connection between listeners and the artists of viral songs. Although TikTok users share their music widely, how can record labels ensure longevity and build fanbases beyond their 15 seconds of TikTok fame? They must find a way to reach kids and introduce them to the artists behind their favourite songs.

“All I really listen to is a song called chicken wings. It is just stuck in my head because everyone plays it at school.”
Boy, 8

Gaming

The confluence of gaming and music discovery has been steadily growing for some time. Throughout the pandemic, it has skyrocketed. With live, in-person events almost entirely cancelled across the globe, artists have been searching for new ways to connect with fans: one being through virtual concerts.

Video games have become a go-to spot for new releases. Marshmello, Travis Scott, Royal Blood and Lil Nas X have done virtual concerts on Fornite and Roblox. For instance, Lil Nas X’s concerts attracted over 33 million views during a single weekend, and his success is paving the way for Roblox to become a new space for music. 

These games are perfect for music discovery because they are increasingly becoming kids’ go-to place to socialise. They head to video games to play and catch up with friends. So, given that they spend so much time there, attending virtual concerts with famous artists featuring as avatars sparks excitement.

“The marshmallow concert on Fortnite I saw, it looked good.”
Boy, 9

Ultimately, with so much music available, kids are latching onto social media trends but not getting to know artists beyond their viral songs. Record labels are starting to recognise the value of engaging with younger audiences through social media and streaming platforms to connect kids to these artists. It will be interesting to see how the music industry will stand up to these challenges and build something that engages a new generation of music fans in this new era of music discovery.

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