What Do Your Younger Music Fans Want from You?

June 7, 2013{ 59 Comments }

Millenial Music FanMTV recently did some research to find out what Millennials expect from their favorite artists — and what an artist/fan relationship should look like in the 21st century.

Paul Resnikoff from Digital Music News summarizes those expectations in his article “The 7 Attributes of Younger Music Fans.”

Check out Paul’s article for the full details — but if you want bullet-points, here they are…

Millennial music fans:

1probably won’t “buy” your music — because they think music should be free. But if they DO buy your music, it’s a gesture of extreme support and gratitude.

2. crave  “intimate glimpses into the mundane daily activities of their favorite celebrities,” according to MTV’s Allison Hillhouse.

3. want to feel involved in the creation, branding, and taste-making process.

4. need frequent interaction on a number of social platforms.

5. prefer “zero distance” between artist and fan. They want constant access — and intimate details.

6. are fond of shuffle-mode listening, playlists, and a diverse array of artists and genres.

7. don’t care about artists “selling out.” According to the study, they “understand that the system of getting free music/streaming means artists have to make their money somewhere.”


If you’re a Millennial, does this description fit? If you’re not a Millennial, how do you feel about the expectations of younger fans? Let us know in the comments section below.

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[Image of music listener from Shutterstock.]

  • cominginsecond

    Number One needs to change, or God help us all.

  • Zallen Jones

    Perhaps a whole generation that feels our music should be free wouldn't mind going to work for a month with no pay just to get closer to their favorite artists to feel the pain?

    • cierrageer

      They do it's called internships.

      • Captain Catfish

        Another example of people working for free and being exploited. Let's not forget about commissioned sales.

    • Jasmine Green

      Totally agree. In Australia, so many millennials don't work (because it's too boring) and just wait for their govt payment or mum and day's allowance – I'm talking about 20 year olds too, not just teenagers.

      It's going to be interesting (to say the least) of marketing and selling any product in the future.

  • Davis

    Music should be free? Do the recording studios, mastering engineers, website hosts, CD distributors, electricity corporations, housing market, transit agencies, gas stations, promotional representatives, Internet service providers work for free?

    I understand promotional singles for a concert or to get some "hype", but I believe the main reason Milennials want free music is that the Hip-hop artists are releasing entire albums for free which they call mixtapes. The mixtapes were recorded in their friends studio and the backing tracks were free mp3s downloaded from starving online producers.

    Talking in my Atlanta voice, dey too much homies lowering the value of our wurk!

  • OneWerd

    This is helpful, because I have always made my decisions in life based upon the impulses of children. I feel like it's a good, healthy and responsible way to guide my choices. Wisdom and experience are like, so '95.

  • Ezequiel Omar Rivera

    Hit's the nail on the head. My album is called ' Rise of the Millennials', and there's a verse on there that says" …this ain't a full time job though, this is my muthaf*ck'n part-time hobby."

  • Sparky Simmons

    ABSOLUTELY! FREE! FREE! FREE! And I would be perfectly OK with that… how about those who want free music …come and mow my lawn for free… My Mortgage, Power, & monthly expenses aren't free… OMG! I LOVE BURGERS but Burger joints don't hand out burgers for free. Let's make everything Free.. oh wait…. if everything is free why would the teacher's come and teach, and police protect, and politicians…well, politicians don't really do anything,,, but still. Not one single thing on this God forsaken planet is free, hell we pay for water and falls from the sky… Plus something given away has no real value… so by giving something way you devalue it. CD Baby should be free LOL.

    • Remember radio has been free to consumers for a long time and it hasn't killed the music industry yet. Like radio, when music is streamed online artists are owed royalties. So just because the youth have gotten hooked on freely accessible music, doesn't mean artists won't get paid. All is not lost!

      • kevin lee

        Ever heard of payola cdbaby? Radio has never been free and 98% of
        artist's will never get major airplay because of it. We can all come up
        with many reasons of ways around the issue or "things will change" but let's face it kids do expect music to be free and with the collapse of the music industry it's a messed up situation.

  • Lizzie McKenzie

    Perhaps consider the opportunities that this creates for loosening up traditionally rigid form and structure expectations – making music on the fly – less expectations = less pressure = hopefully more experimentation and creativity/ innovation – maybe even less judgement!

    Lets face it recording and distributing music can be free to cheap these days – this generation is highly aware of this fact. And if you never expect to make money from music, art, all these creative channels that you love, find your true self in etc then I guess you won't be too surprised of disappointed letting it fly free!

  • DontWorryImAPilot

    I'm not super excited about the fact people don't like paying for music.

    I buy music.

    I don't understand the thought-process behind "music should be free." It's a side-effect of a consumerist society which suggests intellectual property has no value (or, more applicable to my life, stands on a desk in their multi-million-dollar business yelling about the pay scale of the creative staff while buying expensive new cars every year).

    What is for sure: for musicians to survive, they'll have to rely on other revenue streams. You know, kind of like in the old days when musicians had to be able to play their instruments and perform their art.

    To sell the home or portable music listening experience (CDs/MP3s/vinyl, etc.), you need to make the product special.

    To survive in the business, you have to make everything special. The shows, the merch, the fan-to-band relationship, etc. Make the fans feel special and give those special fans special experiences.

    That's the way to move forward in the new climate, not through resentment.

  • Holiday Childress

    My 12 year old son likes to buy music from i tunes more than getting it for
    free because he likes the better sound quality and the artwork he gets. He doesn't always have the money to buy the music but when he does he prefers to buy it for those reasons. I think there may be more young folks out there that feel the same.

  • Laura

    For Number One to make sense, they should also strongly believe that food, clothing, lawers, accountants, etc, should also be free…

  • Mike

    this is kind of a double edged sword "imho"…with how rediculously easy and available home recording is now the cost of recording is basically cut out of the equation.. that said, packaging can be optional now if youre going for online only distrib..making it easier to share your music freely..The flip side? i.e.getting paid! That income stream is going to have to come from actually getting out and supporting the music you make with merch and ticket sales tips etc…..otherwise i would focus on licensing or publishing your music..if you wanna sit back and rake in the dough 🙂

  • Richard McCargar

    Even the 1960's hippies eventually grew-up, left the communes, got jobs and housess with white-picket fences. This too, shall pass.

  • Eeek. We're definitely not trying to destroy music. We are a music company after all 🙂

  • Loren Jones

    What we need is a platform to tell teens that entitlement is a fantasy,
    and a job is benificial.

  • Terri Carroll

    I completely agree. Artists have to realize that they are marketing to what the fans want, not how they think it should go.

  • Ty Penshorn

    Music is free now and forever thanks to the modern world of technology. The artists who say "you try going to work for free", are you seriously comparing your dream job of playing music to a trolley pusher, garbage truck driver or someone who puts the chicken in the bucket? If you don't make enough money, write a hit. I'm positive gang nam style still banked $$$$'s.
    Don't get self absorbed in living your dream job. You can do something else if money is important to you. Less than 1% of musicians make a full time living solely from the profession. These are the odds you're dealing with, and its a lottery who makes it and the cream most definitely does not rise to the top. If you want money for people to listen to your music, everyone will either listen to an alternative free song or give some back catalogue a spin. You haven't written anything better than the Beatles, the Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan, and if you have, you've got nothing to whinge or worry about.

  • Captain Catfish

    "Selling out" isn't such a big deal anymore because the financial incentive for bands to sell their souls isn't there. Why prostitute yourself when you are not going to get paid? In the old days, it was record companies that put pressure on bands to do what sold. These days, Artists working for free are mostly too proud to compromise their artistic integrity and personal morals. While bad for us who dream of quitting our day jobs, it is also good for the music. Bands in the future won't be KISS. Maybe we will see the next Beatles or a new Pink Floyd instead. I will continue to make music because it is something that I love doing. It is a shame though, that we can't make a living on it.

    Young people are not the only ones looking for a free ride on the backs of musicians. Some bars actually ask bands to pay a percentage of whatever they sell, or pay to play. Many bars and nightclubs no longer offer live entertainment. They play canned music, sometimes shuffled from a computer or ipod, and who knows if they ever paid for the music in the first place. But they make money on the atmosphere, the bar, the dance club, whatever. If it wasn't for the music, how could they keep people there? How many bars pay any royalties to musicians for using their music? Few, and it would be nearly impossible to enforce otherwise. I propose something new. Write your state legislator, and ask for laws requiring live music for any business that serves alcohol. If bars and nightclubs had to pay real musicians and DJs, that would create hundreds of jobs in every city.

    Radio stations make their living off of musicians, and they don't pay us, either. It seems just a little unjust, when they are marketing the product that we produce, without us. If the FCC required radio stations to pay royalties on every song they played, then artists could actually make serious money writing songs. If, on the other hand, the FCC required radio stations to pay royalties on only the top 100 songs on the charts, and former top 100 songs, then that would create an interesting incentive for radio stations to play more variety and perhaps even more independent artists.

    We outnumber the radio and bar industries. Why are we always getting exploited?

  • Joseph Maurone

    2. crave “intimate glimpses into the mundane daily activities of their favorite celebrities,” according to MTV’s Allison Hillhouse.
    That suggests that "younger fans" aren't necessarily "music" fans; they're voyeuristic "celebrity" fans, looking to live vicariously. And while I'm at it, why would I care about an MTV poll? They stopped being about music a long time ago. No, these "fans" are just looking for reality tv pablum with the same backbeat and chords and autotuned vocals as background noise. Please.

  • Captain Catfish

    Except for the cool people. The hipsters buy vinyl, because they know that those vintage speakers and vaccum-tube powered turntables sound so sweet, and the vinyl is a much more tangible way to have and hold your music than an impersonal file saved on your phone. Lame music moochers can go download all the Beyonce and Gaga they want. The elite will spring a few to get the vintage copy of Rodriguez on Ebay, because it looks really cool on your coffee table when friends come over to your house. "Yeah, that is a real 1975 copy. I had that before they came out with the documentary."

  • Micana Mivina

    I realized yesterday that music is not a business, but a hype of oneself, according to all measurable indicators, and I realized that I would never make any money on my music. well, all I can say is, I find it hard making really good music because of this, for good music is dependent on a lot of -not -free- factors, and I only make good music when I feel well, and extremley good music when I feel extremely good, at a hight cost…

  • Well, I was summarizing in broad-strokes, as a characterization of a generation (or 68% of them) — but here's what Paul's article says:

    "Fans, especially younger fans, have an expectation of free. In fact, many younger listeners have never been forced to pay for music in their lives; furthermore, many beleive music should be free on principle.

    In that context, if they're buying your stuff, they're generally regarding it as a major gesture. Indeed, 68 percent of Millennials interviewed by MTV said they only buy music out of respect for the artist, and they believe music should be free.

    Just one in four had purchased music in the last week; 30 percent in the last month (all of which actually sounds high)."


  • Nicely done. I see what you did there.


  • Rob Roberts

    I think the young people have been hoodwinked by the industry, they don't know what real music is, no individuality, all today's artist sound alike. I can't blame them for not wanting to pay for Garbage.

  • Adreama

    Unfortunately, good old' Mr. Golden Sun (performed by Barney and friends. Lol =) comes at the cost off waiting for his body guards (aka clouds) to clear out for him to grace us with his presence. Life will always be a give and take compromise. Both sides will need to give in order to get, but kudos to those of us who've kept their heads on the ground and realize we don't deserve fans, we earn them. Through blood, sweat, tears, talent, 3 jobs (and maybe even kids). Our pursuit of musical awesomeness is a choice of our own, so WE are the only ones responsible for our livelihoods, not listeners. We will always be indebted to fans no matter how big we get or small we remain; an thank the gods for anyone that listens to us whine about our lives in sweet, sweet melodies… Good luck to us all =D

  • Steve Merola

    Downloading music from "pirate" websites is against the law. "pirates" make their money from advertisers on their sites. Currently there is a movement within the advertising industry, as well as numerous governments around the world, to stop advertising on criminal sites. In Spain, for example, there is a hefty fine for corporations that advertise on criminal sites. Artists who are aware of corporate advertising on these sites have begun emailing & calling those companies and demanding they stop supporting the people who rob artists. All of this is actually happening now and will eventually remove the criminal element from the internet. This 68% of younger listeners are not only suffering from akrasia, they are supporting organized crime. They must be made aware of this fact.

  • Glad to hear you're bucking the trend! Thanks for sharing.


  • That's why we created CD Baby Pro. To collect all those various royalty streams for artists. Many streaming services (like Pandora) use ads (just like radio) to generate income.

    • Tucker McCoy

      CD Baby Pro isn't FREE! Nothing is FREE! Before we start catering to the youth, how about we educate them on the full process of how our music becomes available to them in the first place. Sure, it's been done before but maybe not with the proper attitude and certainly not as an integral part of a site like yours. Why not make this "thorough breakdown" of sorts, whether in text or video, at the very least a tab to be "clicked" on all music distribution sites, major and minor. It should always be there as part of those "intimate glimpses" mentioned in #2. No groveling, just facts. It's there if they so choose to click on it. Maybe the mere "constant opportunity" to get an in-depth comprehensive look at the work and expenses paid beforehand by "their favorite artist" might actually make paying 99 cents for a song seem FREE. Consider and explore that option CD Baby! Set the tone! Stand for the artists who pay for your services and others will eventually stand with you.

  • Tram Bones

    MTV Sucks

  • Henry Airplay

    Some millennials have been drinking too much flouride water or doing it with their teachers in school. Most of the milennials would worship what MTV pushes on TV, while indie artists who spend thousands of dollars to promote on social sites get harassed by the milennials. Rebecca Black is an example. Her parents paid for her song and as soon as it went up on Youtube people were threatening her and harassing her for her own song.
    Some people are just too entitled. If the music is good, it isn't FREE and if you don't like the Music don't harass people.
    Only rich people get through with the gatekeepers- look at Ed Sheeran, Drake, Psy, Lil Wayne and other mainstream acts. They had money and connections.
    Poor artists really gots to struggle in this music market!

  • Taboose

    Hey everyone,

    Keep in mind – we aren't seeing the specifics of this study – they were probably multiple choice questions – sometimes the way a questionnaire is written can sway the results. Whoever wrote the questionnaire probably had an idea of the types of answers they were looking for, leading them to write the questions a certain way. I mean, I'm over 40 and I like anything to be free but it doesn't mean i think it should be free….

  • Antony Ant.

    What became with young people? Does it really so hard to understand that artist need to have money from art to be an artist? Free music (or free art) is whole wrong concept from its core, put forward for discussion by a horde of hangers-on who are used to live a carefree easy life, saw no real problems and make no real decisions. In other hand, it feels like 1000 ton conceit: who you are to dictate artist what art hi or she must do? Art is act of creation prodded by inspiration, not an industrial production of gum…Ah, and I'm 23, so I do not that far from that young generation.

    P.S. Picture given in the article, very well characterizing my sense of peers and younger generations…One word – kids.

  • Ty Penshorn

    Don't shoot the messenger.

  • Owen Dennis

    Pretty sure I just said that we all use spotify, rdio, pandora, and slacker. Those are all legal options. So really, it's more like walking into a store that lets you eat 4 chips with the agreement that you then listen to them talk about their chips. No one downloads and steals music anymore, that's *so* 2005. I don't know anyone that downloads and pirates because that takes slightly more time and takes up more space on your computer than just using a legal streaming site. With the speed of the internet at this point, it's far easier to stream something from wherever you are than to pirate it.

    Sounds like you need to grow the fuck *down*, and stop being a crotchety old man by using strawman arguments about people you don't understand. I make music too, I understand that there is less revenue from the selling of music itself. Because of this, I change my tactics, like one always needs to do when markets shift. If one thing isn't working, try another direction. If you continue to be stuck in the old ways of doing things, and those ways aren't working, you'll continue to get what you have: nothing.

  • Paul Nye

    My mistake. You are absolutely correct….on both accounts ("As if it didn't already sound bad…")

  • Paul Nye

    Right on, Michael!

  • Michael

    I find it interesting that the naysayers here tend towards the idea that we millenials think everything should be handed to us on a silver platter. I can assure that I've had to work my ass off for everything I have. And at times, work for months without pay. At age 11, I was working on a pig farm I was living at so my family and I could continue to stay living at the house. Don't talk to me about things being handed to me. Eat your words if you think I don't know the pain of hours of hard labor just to make ends meet.

    And yes, I agree that music needs to be unfettered from the clutches of a system that makes artists into slaves. Which is why I'm a huge fan of CDBaby.

    Aside from that, I fully understand the implications of "starving artist"… going months on nothing but a hundred bucks or so. Learning to make my own bread in order to keep producing my art work because a 9-5 job felt like death.

    And yes, I have 5 kids, all kinds of bills, and every bit of responsibility.

    If you're afraid of the word "free" and think that you won't be able to turn a profit, I say nonsense. Cuz at the heart of this whole issue is the desire for connection. What you fail to grasp is that we don't want your crap, and don't expect us to pay for it. We want the real YOU. If you think I'm gonna pay for some corporate sponsored parot, guess again. BUT rest assured, every time I hear my favorite artist on spotify FOR FREE, i get one step closer to purchasing the songs on iTunes so I can have them on my phone anywhere I go, OR pay for spotify premium. And yes, I get that the free version is still paid for by advertising. But trust and believe, that if you want me to spend MY HARD EARNED MONEY on YOUR productions, you better have a sample available somewhere for me to get a taste.

    In this new world of ours, everyone is an artist, and everyone can create music at the drop of a hat. If people don't buy yours stuff, maybe you should make better stuff. And if you want people to know about your stuff, maybe you should give them your stuff and trust that what you have is WORTH them COMING BACK to SUPPORT what you do.

    Cuz in the end, that's what its all about, all of us supporting each other. And if you aren't down for the road of blood, sweat, and tears because of what you believe in, and what you believe in is WORTH giving to the people because you BELIEVE in that much, than you just don't understand this new world that you're living in.

    I got nothin but love for ya,
    Michael P.

  • Michael

    nah, you just tune it out or turn it down…

  • O-naje Tyler

    This is good to know, especially for artist in there 30's…its good to see the younger perspective… –
    For some Hip Hip Soul Music
    Chk out http://www.o-najemuzic.com

  • J.r. Storms

    Ok so whats the point of CDBaby? If all music should be free then why doesn't CDBaby shut down right now?

    • A few points: 1) "free" to the end-user doesn't necessarily mean that no revenue is generated. Spotify has a free option, but the artists still earn money for each stream. 2) This is just one segment of a huge population; tons of people are still buying music. And apparently 32% of the people polled (which I think was limited to American Millennials — but don't quote me on that) were still happy to pay for music. So — the ability to monetize and distribute your music worldwide is still crucial to any artist's success.


  • Hey there. I hope you have a chance to listen to a wonderful artist who broke out this past year and now has a recording contract with Columbia UK. Her name is Lucy Rose and she gained enough popularity through her 5 years of performing live in first London and now around Europe and the US and through her YouTUbe videos that she was able to call the shots and create a CD that stayed true to her acoustic sound. For the most part she is becoming a rising star because people under 25 are listening to her and now buying her CD. Give her a listen, you may find a modern artist you like. I am 46 yrs old and I love Lucy Rose and her beautiful songs. She has connected to her audience some-how and I am impressed.

  • I listen to new music all the time and musicians like, Ben Howard, Mumford and Sons and Lucy Rose all come to mind. Don't worry. The future of music is safe in the hands of these very real and wonderful artists and song crafters.

  • Captain Catfish

    I find us music snobs to grow cold towards anything that gets too much radio airplay in a short period of time. We need variety in our music, not a repeat of the latest thing big labels are trying to sell.

  • Roy Talley

    Just do your best ! Music should be free, but the system is sometimes controlled, by the rich.
    If you are unknown, remember you are not alone, and the best that you can do is just that !
    Keep trying and never give up. But, relax, and enjoy the ride. Remember that you have fan's, that love you too.

  • Funkdog91

    Wow people, ya'll need to get up to speed with the current mindset of the generation.
    I am a child of the millenial generation, and I am an independent artist/band manager (my band is Gang of Thieves, you can google us) I'm 21 years old and in my eyes the music industry is becoming better then ever before.

    Yes people love free music, but "free" is not free to anyone anymore. It neve was to the artists, and like many people have mentioned, "free" just means streaming. There are website like Bandcamp where you can sell your music for pay what they want. This gives fans the opportunity to choose how much value they give your music, and PAY you for it. They can even download the whole thing for free, love it, and come back later to pay $50 for another album. Or they will probably come out to a show, buy a t-shirt, and tell their friends "check out this killer band who just let me download their music for free!"
    Owen Dennis made a good point in one of his comments "illegally downloading music is SO 2005". Trends pass by youth quickly. I remember a few years ago, I was downloading all sorts of torrents of major label artist. That was before the ease of streaming and subscription based platforms. 4 years ago eveyone in the industry was talking about how the future of music (and a shitload of other things for that matter, like movies netflix, hulu, etc) would be cloud based subscriptions. Fast forward to today, here we are with spotify, google music, rdio, pandora etc. You can pay $10 a month and listen to whatever you want.
    If you really love an artist and love the music that they make, kids will go to the webiste and download the album in high quality (so many illegal downloads are missing tracks, miss labeled sound like shit, etc it's not worth it if you really want the music) with art work, and lyrics right from the artist.
    I mentioned that trends pass quickly, they happen even more quickly today then they did 2 years ago. This is thanks to people just knowing how to use the technology available now, there is twitter, instagram facebook, all these things have flashes of trends that 400,000 people might look at and listen to something one day #this #that, but then next day it is obsolete.
    The millenial generation may have some brats who live off their parents money(i could rant on this for ever as well) but thanks to the internet, knowledge of how the world works is also now at every kids fingertips. Thats why "selling out" doesnt bother anyone anymore. Because kids understand basic marketing, and why it helps bands. I don't think there even is such a thing as "selling out". Just bad brand association (a band of vegans should probably not team up with micky d's)
    Kids KNOW that artists struggle, and you can tell your fans that you need their help. Each and every one of them wants to be your friend, so tell them what your up to, why you need help. "we're out of gas in Nebraska on our way to a gig in Illinois, buy a fucking CD!" The art of asking (thanks Amanda Plamer) needs to be brought back into play. My band just ran a kickstarter campaign for our third album and raised over $11,000 just by ASKING people. and we probably could have made more if we put mor thought into it.
    Recording the new album was the first time we worked with a major producer (Michael Rosen, he won a grammy for recording "Shaman" by Sanatan, we paid him $8000 for recording and mixing) and spent more then 5 days in a studio. (we have three previously released album, each one cost less the $2000 from start to finish, maybe another $1000 for discs on top, but we made out money back in a blink selling CDs for $10 at shows.)
    The new album was going to cost upwords of $10,000, and it sounds SO good.
    Spending that much money creates something of quality and value, that so many fans are looking for today, in the mash of shitty quality free downloads, people want to pay for something really great.
    Sell your best album on your website, learn how to direct your fans there to BUY your music, encorage them do download free from YOU if they want to download for free, and at the very least get their email when they download, cause thats a direct connection to a fan who will later one pay for admission to a show, buy merch, donate to a cause, and at the very least tell a friend about your band.

    I guess my moral to this story is if you write good music, and perform exciting shows, you will get paid. If you play music that everyones heard before, don't spend a lot of time and money on production quality, no one gives a fuck about paying you.
    Music once created will last for ever, so if it's good, your making money for ever.
    If you want to be an artist and not think about the ever changing entertainment business, then your starving. If you really rock at what you do, and you have the capacity to evolve, then your golden.

    Food for thought, has anyone seen the show "revolution"? If the power was to go out right now, as a musician, what value do you have in a fight or flight society? What good is electric guitar if you can't turn your amp on? How is playing a song going to feed your family when everyone else is farming, building houses etc? There's no real value in music, human emotion made it up, and somewhere wayy back, some smart motherfucker realized that you can make BANK when toying with emotions.

    • Great, positive perspective on all this — except for the peak oil nightmare scenario of a bunch of amps without power! ; ) Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  • AnalogMPfour

    It was when fans focused more on the artist than the music then music became downhill with the artistry.

  • Jill

    With technology people can get deeper into consuming themselves in the artist's entire entity…some people want that.

  • Colby Stearns

    I’m 20 years old (part of the Millennial generation) and I feel ashamed for anyone who feels music should be free. I still buy tons of CDs for the artists I love and listen to them regularly.

  • Colby Stearns

    I’m 20 years old (part of the Millennial generation) and I feel ashamed for anyone who feels music should be free. I still buy tons of CDs for the artists I love and listen to them regularly.