Smart Speakers are making a serious impact on music consumption in the U.S.

smart speakers, music business, music industry

Not so long ago, radio was the primary form of home entertainment. Families would gather around their stereos, which were as large as many televisions are today, and they would listen intently to songs and stories being shared over the airwaves. You probably don’t remember this time, but if you’re lucky enough to have grandparents they probably have a story or two to share. It looked something like this:

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Those of us born in the last fifty years have most likely never spent an evening gathered around our stereos with those we love the most. At best, we have shared some memory making experiences with those closest to us while singing along to car stereos on road trips or late night drives under moonlit skies, but even those moments are becoming something of an ‘old time’ hobby. Radio is dying, and car stereos are mostly used as a mean to connect our smartphones with our stereo systems to play our favorite songs or playlists.

Home listening, however, has long been in a state of flux. While TV and later streaming gained popularity, the use of radio or stereos of any kind in the home began to wane. That is until the recent rise of smart speakers began to take the nation by storm.

A recent survey looking to understand the listening habits of people over the age of 16 by AudienceNet, a company out of the UK, found the increasing popularity of smart speakers by companies like Sonos and Google correlates to a rise in overall music consumption. Despite only 14% of the U.S. population owning smart speakers, those that do listen to 50% more music and 49% longer than before. They also check out more playlists as well.

With the holiday season right around the corner, the number of American homes with smart speakers in them is likely to grow in leaps and bounds. Early Black Friday ads from Best Buy and other retailers place emphasis on the devices, and a number of marketing efforts with buzzworthy groups such as Greta Van Fleet have no doubt made more curious about the technology than at the same point a year ago.

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Further encouraging adoption is Spotify, who recently launched a promotion that offers a FREE Google Home speaker to anyone with a Family subscription plan on the streaming service. The offer applies to new and existing subscription holders and runs through the end of December, meaning its likely to help thousands, even millions, with their gift-giving efforts.

Families may no longer gather around the stereo at the end of the day, but with smart speakers becoming commonplace they are engaging with music (and other services provided by the devices) like never before. We expect a wave of tips and tricks to encourage specific artist engagement to hit the music blogosphere, including this site, in the near future as a result. Stay tuned.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.