Turn back the TikTok: Social media helping young adults discover old music hits

NEW YORK — Oldies, but goodies are getting new life thanks to social media. Almost half of music fans in the U.S. have recently discovered a song that was released over a decade ago thanks to apps like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults shows that about one in four attribute the discovery of a classic hit to a viral trend on social media. These unearthed hits include “Purple Rain” by Prince, “Hotel California” by The Eagles, as well as viral songs on TikTok such as “Rasputin” by Boney M. and Måneskin’s cover of “Beggin.’”

Kicking it ‘old’ school

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Dolby Laboratories, the survey found that U.S. adults are feeling nostalgic. This sentiment was very high among Gen Z, with nearly 70 percent stating they have recently discovered an iconic song from over a decade ago for the first time. Overall, more than two-thirds are rediscovering classics from their past.

old musicResults also show that six in 10 adults feel like they were born in the wrong era because of their taste in music, including nearly 80 percent of Gen Z. For 40 percent of respondents, the era that best matches their music preferences is the 2000s.

That may be why close to 70 percent of people would be embarrassed to share their playlists with others, particularly their boss. Additionally, 45 percent have rediscovered an iconic artist, album, or song during the last two years.

“Songs of past eras are seeing a revival as more Americans are discovering, or rediscovering, these iconic classics for the first time. This includes Gen Z, who have shown a keen interest in music of past eras,” says John Couling, Senior Vice President of Entertainment at Dolby Laboratories, in a statement. “This is a powerful phenomenon that we believe will have a lasting influence over the listening preferences of many Americans.”

Six in 10 have also discovered a new artist or song after watching a TV show or movie. Some cited music-specific shows such as “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice,” while others were inspired by “F9,” and binge-worthy favorites like “Bridgerton” and even “Squid Game.”

Music and social media go hand-in-hand

Most respondents say social media is the main way they usually discover new tunes (57%), along with recommendations from streaming services (53%). YouTube (79%) tops the list of social networks for finding new music, while platforms like Facebook (71%), Instagram (68%), and TikTok (57%) also have a significant influence. At the same time, 44 percent blame social media for their current obsession with a genre they previously disliked.

Over two-thirds say they spend more time listening to music each day than before the start of 2020, with over half listening to music for over four hours per day. Fifty-five percent now spend more money on music purchases each month, for things like streaming subscriptions. Many are also prioritizing audio quality above all when choosing to pay for a music streaming subscription.

Nearly 90 percent believe enhanced audio quality is a “must-have feature,” while about two-thirds who pay for a music streaming subscription note that better sound quality is more important than other features, such as ad-free listening, exclusive content, or the ability to add multiple users to their account. In addition, nearly half of Gen Z respondents who pay for a music streaming subscription want access to the latest in cutting-edge audio technologies with their plan.

Over 70 percent add they’ll likely purchase a new audio device within the next six months to enhance their experience when listening to music. This sentiment is highest among Gen Z (86%).

“Whether tuning in to a new or old favorite, spatial audio technologies like Dolby Atmos offer an unparalleled listening experience that brings listeners inside their favorite songs,” Couling adds. “It’s a completely new way to enjoy music that and will blow away what they thought music could sound like.”