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What Instagram Discovered in Our First Nielsen Music Study

First-time statistics reveal just how influential Instagram users are in the music marketplace

Published in
5 min readMar 14, 2016


For the past five years, the world’s most influential music artists have come to Instagram to share their stories and connect directly to fans around the globe. We’ve watched the Instagram community grow to more than 400 million users, and music continues to be one of the top subjects our users are most passionate about. Over half of our top 10 most-followed accounts belong to musicians, with @taylorswift and @selenagomez as our platform’s most-followed musicians to date.

Last April, Instagram launched @music, an account dedicated to exploring music on our platform—those who create it, and the community around it. We launched the account with one main goal in mind: to elevate the most creative members of the global IG music community.

More and more, we’re seeing the music industry look to Instagram as an authentic storytelling tool and indispensable resource for fan engagement and content promotion. Major and emerging artists are eager to break native content on Instagram, and they’re using the platform to personally connect with a global audience of fans through visual storytelling.

For 2016, we wanted to better understand how music fans use Instagram to drive measurable offline value for artists—beyond likes, comments and general online social engagement. We wanted to explore the relationship between Instagram and artists’ career growth. We were also interested to know more about the community of users who come to Instagram to discover new music content and experience the culture of music, as it happens.

The Nielsen Instagram Music Data Study

For the first time ever, Instagram Music worked with Nielsen to commission a music data study analyzing the habits and lifestyles of U.S. music listeners on Instagram, according to data sampled from Nielsen’s annual Music 360 report. Nielsen independently carried out this study by surveying more than 3,000 respondents and self-identified Instagram users.

Today, we’re releasing the results of our Nielsen Instagram Music Study, and the findings demonstrate the measurable offline and online value Instagram brings to the music industry. The research also gives the industry first-time statistics that substantiate just how important and influential Instagram users are in the music marketplace.

The Findings: Instagram Users are Music Fans

  • Instagram users spend more money on music and devote more time listening to music.
  • Pop leads the pack as the most-listened-to music genre, with hip-hop/rap at the #2 spot.

The first part of our Nielsen study found that Instagram users are 42% more likely to spend money on music during the year, in comparison to the general population’s annual music spending habits. Overall, people who use Instagram to follow artists and bands spend twice as much on music each year, as compared to the general population and music fans who use other social media apps.

IG users also spend 30% more time listening to music on a weekly basis in comparison to the general U.S. population, and they’re more likely to be listening to pop, hip-hop/rap and R&B.

Recently we’ve seen hip-hop’s top artists use Instagram to announce new projects and personally debut album artwork directly to their fans. Last September, Drake and Future used Instagram to announce What a Time to Be Alive, building anticipation around their Billboard-charting project.

Instagram Users Stream More Music

  • Instagram users are twice as likely to pay for streaming.

The second part of this research segment found that Instagram users are also more likely to stream music online, and they are twice as likely to pay for music streaming. Some of their top-used streaming services are YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud.

Instagram Users Love Live Music

  • During live music events, Instagram is the #1 platform for music fans, festivalgoers and artists.

The third portion of the study looked at Instagram music fans’ live music attendance. The research found that IG music fans are more likely to attend live music events, especially events that feature a live DJ. The research also determined that Instagram music fans are more likely to use their smartphones for various activities while attending live events. These activities include making purchases in real time (e.g., purchasing music that they hear at a concert), visiting the artist’s website, calling friends in the moment during a music event and sharing videos to their mobile device.

Every day the world’s most influential artists come to Instagram to share their stories and connect with a global audience of fans. And at any given moment, you’ll find communities across every major music genre expressing their art and inspiration on Instagram.

All in all, Nielsen’s study found that Instagram users have a strong appetite for music content, and they are often music’s savviest trendsetters. We have just scratched the surface in looking more closely at how the music industry, brands and fans can leverage our platform. Instagram is passionate about music, and we will continue to support the music industry and our growing music community.

Lauren Wirtzer-Seawood is Head of Music Partnerships at Instagram

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