What Kind of Music Listener Are You?

Neilsen, the rating company, has created a set of categories to define specific types of music listeners. Since this type of company needs to separate people into groups, it’s clearly part of their mandate to try and come up with something other than ages, social demographics, etc.

Here’s what they found:

  1. Music Loving Personalizers are passionate music listeners who are mainly seeking an emotional benefit by listening. They prefer free services and often play music in the background.
  2. Discriminating Audiophiles are highly engaged consumers who listen to and prefer a wide variety of audio, and are willing to pay for specific content.
  3. Convenience Seeking Traditionalists prefer broadcast radio, listening to their favorite stations and hosts; and they routinely listen in the car.
  4. Information Seeking Loyalists are heavy broadcast listeners who usually listen to their favorite talk programs for news, education and to stay informed of current events.
  5. Background Driving Defaulters are less engaged and typically have the radio on in the car for background entertainment or occasionally news and information.
  6. Techie Audio Enthusiasts are avid consumers of many types of audio. These listeners are early adopters of new platforms to satisfy their audio needs.

I find this sort of gobbledygook annoying. Trying to fit people into this type of category is fruitless. In fact, I don’t know what category I fit in. I seek an emotional benefit from listening to music (1); I’m a discriminating consumer (2), but not an audiophile; and I guess I am, in some ways, a techie audio enthusiast (6). But I also listen to some podcasts to keep up with the news (4).

I would propose a different split:

  • Purchasers of music (physical and digital)
  • Streamers (and YouTube, or MTV-like music video watchers)
  • Radio listeners
  • Accidental listeners (people who only listen to music played by others)

Then I’d categorize people by the amount of music they own: you could count CDs and digital downloads, but, for those who digitize their music, the size of their iTunes (or other music management app) library is a good example of how much music they listen to.

But the Nielsen categories have the advantage of sounding like total bullshit, so I’m sure they’ll go over very well in the music industry.