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Most Teens Prefer to Watch Their Music, Survey Finds

Wide-ranging Nielsen report on music trends shows that the younger crowd doesn't get its tunes primarily from radio or iPods. And more of them buy CDs than you might think.

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Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Quick, how do most teenagers listen to music: ITunes? Radio? CDs? Online sub services? Guess again.

According to Nielsen’s “Music 360 Report” released Tuesday, 64 percent of teens play their tunes via YouTube more than any other source. But good ol’ radio isn’t too behind at 56 percent, followed by iTunes and CDs (53 and 50 percent, respectively). But overall, radio continues to be the primary way people find new music, with a dominating 48 percent of those surveyed citing the airwaves. Discovery through friends or relatives is a distant second at only 10 percent.

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“The accessibility of music has seen tremendous expansion and diversification,” says David Bakula, senior vp client development at Nielsen. “While younger listeners opt for technologically advanced methods, traditional methods of discovery like radio and word-of-mouth continue to be strong drivers.”

Based on an online survey of 3,000 U.S. consumers, the wide-ranging music report looks at trends in delivery, buying, listening, social networking and apps as well as live events and how the economy is affecting sales. The report doesn’t have much of a startle factor, but here are a few tidbits of note.

• Think the young’uns don’t give a rip about CDs? Well, 36 percent of those surveyed said they bought at least one in the past year, compared with 51 percent who purchased a music download.

• The majority of the surveyed fans (59 percent) enjoy hearing music via movie soundtracks versus music-related TV shows (42 percent) and music-related video (28 percent).

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• Digital is seen as only a slightly better value than physical, with 63 percent of buyers calling d-albums a very good or fairly good value, compared with 55 percent saying the same about CDs.

• As far as which gender buys which genre most often, the leaders are 38 percent of males going for rock, and 15 percent of females preferring Top 40. Only 9 percent of  males cited Top 40 as their most-purchased music.

• A majority of respondents (54 percent) said they have a music player app on their smartphone versus 47 percent citing a radio app and 26 percent having a music-store app.

Then there are responses that indicate the more things change, the more they stay the same:

• Among survey respondents who attended any live event in the past year, those ages 18-24 are most likely to attend a music event, with 30 percent saying they go once a month and 7 percent citing once or more a week.

• Teenagers are most likely to purchase a T-shirt while at a music event (54 percent versus 46 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds).

• Word-of-mouth remains the biggest influencer as far as music-purchase decisions, with 54 percent of respondents saying they’re most likely to buy based on a friend’s recommendation compared with blogs or chat rooms (25 percent) and a brand endorsement (12 percent).

• Younger folks are more likely to buy music with the first week of its release, with 33 percent of teenagers going that route versus 21 percent of buyers over 18.

• Finally, as far as how the economy has adversely affected music purchases, 41 percent of respondents ages 55 and older and 39 percent of ages 45-54 said they reduced their spending to a large degree, compared with only 28 percent of those ages 25-34.