Research shows huge surge in Millennials and Gen Zers streaming classical music

19 August 2020, 10:28

Huge surge in Millennial and Gen Z-ers streaming classical music
Huge surge in Millennial and Gen Z-ers streaming classical music. Picture: Derek Bremner/Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

With the rise of streaming services, young people are listening to more Mozart and Bach than they did 10 years ago. And during lockdown, classical music has experienced a second boom.

Classical music is becoming more popular among young people, according to new joint research by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, streaming service Deezer, and British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Of those streaming classical music in the last year, a third (34 percent) were 18 to 25 years old. Over the same period, classical streams by listeners under 35 rose by 17 percent.

A decade ago, data published by BPI showed just a tenth of classical listeners were under 30, while the vast majority (70 percent) were over the age of 50.

Classical had a second ‘spike’ when lockdown hit in March, as both modern classical artists and more traditional composers were suddenly a hit among younger listeners. The report, which looks at official streaming data on Deezer, a competitor of Spotify, shows that over three months, global plays of classical music among 18 to 25-year-olds grew by 11 per cent.

Mozart and Bach are the platform’s most popular classical composers, while streams of female pianists including Khatia Buniatishvili and Martha Argerich soared during that three-month period.

Read more: Classical music boosts mental wellbeing in isolation, study finds >

Mozart is Deezer’s most popular classical composer
Mozart is Deezer’s most popular classical composer. Picture: Getty

According to an earlier report from the RPO, more than a third (35 percent) of respondents under 35s felt listening to orchestral music during lockdown had helped them relax and maintain a sense of calmness and wellbeing.

The joint research also reveals how classical music habits are changing among young people. Young classical talent and crossover playlists, like ‘Classical Goes Pop’, are proving popular.

Playlists linked to mood, like ‘feel good’, ‘calm’ and ‘sleep’, have also been well-liked during the pandemic, as young people turned to classical music as a means of finding solace, reassurance and relaxation in an uncertain time.

Calming piano music is a favourite among young listeners. ‘Calm Piano’ continued to be classical music’s most popular playlist in March. And those under 35 listening to the ‘Classical For Sleep’ playlist shot up by 10 per cent. Streams of this playlist also spiked by a huge 284 per cent across all age groups during this time.

Among the top performing artists and composers of 2020 worldwide, were Italian artists Einaudi and Andrea Bocelli, and Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi.

Albums are seeing a resurge too, as classical listeners streamed more in full than fans of other genres, despite previous research showing that fewer people than ever are listening to whole albums.

Female pianists, such as Khatia Buniatishvili, are increasingly popular
Female pianists, such as Khatia Buniatishvili, are increasingly popular. Picture: PA

Classical artists have been voicing their support for the positive findings, including Max Richter, Ray Chen, Jess Gillam and Alexandre Desplat.

Oscar-winning film composer, Desplat, said: “It’s heartening that the appeal of classical music is clearly expanding and connecting with a broader and younger audience.

“The ease of discovery and connectivity through streaming must be playing its part, but so too is the global reach and power of film soundtracks, which draw such inspiration from classical composition.”

Read more: Vote for your favourite film soundtrack, and you could win £500 >

Renowned composer Max Richter added: “It is wonderful that new audiences are coming to classical music during this time of anxiety. Streaming offers listeners the chance simply to follow their enthusiasms through the musical universe without any boundaries, and I’m really happy to hear that many people are turning to classical music for the first time.

“As well as being a historical art form, classical music is also part of what is happening now and it is great to see more people embracing it.”