The third annual Spotify report “Culture Next focuses on Gen Zs (ages 15-25) and Millennials (ages 26-40), show how both groups’ distinct perspectives continue to reshape the audio landscape since the start of the pandemic. This includes listening to more podcasts, embracing diversity and ultimately becoming the ‘Curation Generations.’

“If 2020 was a ‘cultural wake-up call,’ 2021 is shaping up to be a cultural rebirth,” Spotify Chief Content and Advertising Business Officer Dawn Ostroff says. “One thing is certain: Audio is playing a major part in this rebirth.”

The research conducted during April 2021, including a survey of 9,000 Gen Zs and Millennials in 18 countries, Zoom focus groups and dozens of in-depth interviews, found that for seven in ten Gen Zs, and four of five Millennials, audio has helped reduced stress. 70% of Gen Zs report feeling “more centered and generally happier” when listening to their favorite music on a daily basis. While millennials have turned to music from their past, particularly the hits of the ‘80s.

“As the impact of digital content on our well-being becomes increasingly clear, Millennials and Zs are journeying toward a more fulfilling and balanced media diet,” Ostroff says. “For Millennials, that means seeking comfort in nostalgic sounds. For Zs, it’s all about offsetting their digitally saturated lives.”

The Spotify report shows that podcasts have become “the 6 o’clock news” for these age groups.

40% of Millennials and Gen Zs ranked their trust in podcasts higher than in traditional media sources. These include national TV news, newspapers and radio.

Additionally, nearly two-thirds of Millennials and over half of Gen Zs say they use podcasts to learn about social issues. Nearly two-thirds of both groups feel that audio formats like podcasts are one of the greatest ways to tell stories


Discovering and connecting with broader culture is a large part of audio use for Millennials and Gen Zs.

Two-thirds of both groups believe streaming platforms including audio have shaped this discovery. Likewise, roughly half of both believe that they have become part of a global community. This is because of either music or podcasts, says the Spotify report.

Between 50% and 60% of both also believe brands have the power to create communities based on common interest and passion.

Racial and cultural diversity also drives audio use. Seven in ten millennials and six in ten Gen Zs report using music as a way to learn about cultures and experiences that differ from their own. And 62% of millennials and 52% of Gen Zs feeling audio amplifies more diverse perspectives than traditional media (e.g. TV, print, etc).

“Millennials and Gen Zs agreed that as a culture, we’re more open to hearing from diverse voices than ever before,” Ostroff says. “Both generations are pushing for a more inclusive, multi-faceted culture.”

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