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Spotify announces fourth volume of Culture Next, its annual global culture and trends report

Every year, the report highlights how Zs around the world, including India, are engaging with digital audio.

Spotify has announced the fourth volume of Culture Next, its annual global culture and trends report. This year, the focus is on the role of Gen Z as tastemakers, fans, and most of all, individuals navigating and defining their place in the world of audio. This is the third year that India featured in the report, amongst a total of 17 Spotify markets.

In India, the report highlights the deep relationship between creators and listeners, the role of audio in exploring all parts of the listener’s personality, the growing importance of podcasts as a trustworthy ‘friend’, and the integration of nostalgia into contemporary culture. Shared below are the key takeaways:

Gen Z is revolutionising the relationship between audio creators and their fans.

● As creators, their approach to music and podcasts is forging entirely new aesthetics, genres, and fandoms, and as listeners, their tastes and habits are fluid and say a lot about who they are.

● Conversations happening between artists and fans via social media and social audio are adding even more access and intimacy to the creator-fan relationship.

● Zs audio immersions even veer into fantasy with nearly 90% of them in India having listened to music from a movie or show they like in order to feel like they’re a character in the story.

● More than 50% of Zs in India said they’ve joined a digital community, such as a subreddit or Discord, as fans of a particular creator.

What does this mean for brands?

Brands can bridge the gap between audio creators and their biggest fans by passing the mic to creators. Create a podcast, or turn a podcast ad campaign into an audio series that features bonus content from the hosts, like unaired bloopers, and candid conversations. This builds a connection between the listener, their favourite podcaster or artist, and the brand.

Gen Z is finding new ways to express their individuality through digital audio:-

● 80% of Zs in India said audio allows them to explore the outer edges of culture that they wouldn’t otherwise experience. But more than that, audio takes them to the outer edges of themselves - 85% said audio allows them to explore different sides of their personalities.

● A little over 80% of Zs in India believe that their listening habits tell a story about who they are, and feel that they’ve learned something about themselves by looking back over their listening habits.

● Globally, this generation’s creators are also using audio to bring alter egos into the mainstream. The same sentiment is echoed in India, with 71% of Zs appreciating when audio creators take on different personas or characters.

Gen Z is innovating by filtering throwbacks through a contemporary lens.

● When asked to rank the emotion they feel most when listening to music from the past, Zs globally were just as likely to say "energised" as they were to say "comfort”.

● On social media, Zs are mixing old hits with new visual trends such as lip-syncs, dances, makeup tutorials, fit checks, among others - to go viral.

● Just above 75% of Zs in India like it when brands bring back old aesthetic styles.

● 74% of Zs in India said they like listening to and watching media from earlier decades because it reminds them of when things were simpler.

What does this mean for brands?

Zs are nostalgic, but they’re also forward-looking. Brands can use contextual targeting to reach them when they’re listening to nostalgic, sentimental, and other moody playlists, or even invite an artist to discuss how they take musical cues from the past. They can also bring the sound of your brand to life with curated Branded Playlists, throwing it back to the decades and genres that align with your brand’s personality.

According to Arjun Kolady, head of sales - India, Spotify, “Self-expression and creativity are core components of how Gen Zs navigate the world. Now, not only are they leaning into music artists, podcasts, and playlists to shape the stories they tell about themselves — they’re inviting brands to reflect and broadcast their personal narratives as well. Brands have the opportunity to not only support their journeys, but learn about the lives they live and how they view the world — especially through Spotify’s diverse slate of audio content combined with its ad offerings.”

Explore different aspects of the study, more insights, and download the full report here.

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