How They Listen: Cord Cutters and Connected Home Streamers


A growing percentage of the population is cutting the cord each year, streaming their video entertainment over the internet, instead of via cable or satellite. Approximately 1.4 million new homes populated in the US alone have cut the cord within the past year, or never had it in the first place, according to MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett.

This is a large and growing demographic, comprised significantly by much-sought-after millennials.

Spotify worked with analysts from Experian Marketing Services to better understand the music listening preferences of “cord cutters,” or people who stream their video entertainment over the internet, rather than paying for cable or satellite television.

A similar thing is going on with music, as more people stream music to their speakers, using systems like Sonos, Roku, or Spotify Connect (now on over 300 devices), while controlling playback with their smartphones from the convenience of the couch.

Cord cutters are 27 percent more likely to stream music, according to Experian Marketing Services, with whom we partnered on the below research. And because cord cutters connect the internet to their televisions, we figure they’re akin to people who connect the internet directly to their speakers, or “connected home streamers.”

Let’s find out what kinds of music cord cutters and connected home streamers prefer, on an anonymized level.

Cord cutters stream video via the internet to their screens instead of via cable or satellite.

Traditional Television Subscribers pay for cable or satellite service.

Cord Cutters vs. Traditional Television Subscribers

Compared to Traditional Television Subscribers, Cord Cutters really like the following music genres:

  1. Techno is electronic dance music influenced by funk, electro, Chicago house, and electric jazz, which emerged in Detroit in the late ’80s.
  2. Electronic is a broad term for music produced with electronic instruments and technology.
  3. Latin Hip Hop is hip hop in Spanish or Portuguese, first appearing on the US west coast in the ’80s, and migrating to to Miami and the Southwest.
  4. Tejano/Banda: Tejano, from south and central Texas has roots in European waltzes, traditional Mexican music, folk, rock, and country. Banda is traditional Mexican music and modern Mexican pop/rock, featuring brass instruments.
  5. Latin (Alternative) Rock combines Latin music elements with alternative rock, electronic music, metal, new wave, pop, punk, or reggae.
  6. Teen Pop, often a ‘bubblegum’ version of mainstream genres, is created for (and sometimes by) teenagers, often with lyrics about teen life.
  7. Grunge, which emerged from around Seattle in the mid ’80s, described the grubby, stripped-down sound based in part on ’70s rock, punk, hardcore, metal, and indie.
  8. Salsa/Merengue: Salsa is Latin dance music sometimes fused with jazz, R&B, and soul. Merengue features a fast, syncopated rhythm, unique instrumentation (like accordion), and often suggestive lyrics.
  9. Latin Ballads consist of romantic, down-tempo love songs in a variety of genres
  10. New Age brings downtempo, atmospheric vibe intended to relax, inspire, or aid meditation.
  11. Children’s music comes in styles from folk to pop and beyond, and is generally written by adults for children to educate and entertain.
  12. Classical is a catch-all term for high-art religious and secular music composed from the 11th century to the present, especially the period between 1550 and 1900.

Compared to Traditional Television Subscribers, Cord Cutters are not so much into the following genres:

  1. Religious/Christian music has a religious message.
  2. Gospel is Christian devotional music characterized by dominant vocals, either by a single singer or sung in harmony by a choir and a syncopated rhythm.
  3. Easy Listening, mostly instrumental, often refers to big band and orchestral arrangements of standards, movie themes, and popular songs, or more broadly to refer to soft rock or adult contemporary.
  4. Adult Contemporary is mainstream pop to a target audience of men and women aged 18-54, often via the radio, prioritizing classic hits over more contemporary hits.

Connected Home Streamers stream music over the internet to networked devices like Sonos or Spotify Connect.

Other Listeners are everyone else on Spotify.

Connected Home Streamers vs. Other Listeners

Now, let’s examine the listening habits of “connected home streamers,” who might be considered cousins to the cord-cutters. People who stream music to connected devices (like Spotify Connect, Sonos, etc.) enjoy the following music more than the rest of the population, according to Spotify data (minus holiday and regional genres).

It’s a wild assortment, but it does paint a picture of who these networked streamers are, and what they like.

(Yes, we know some of these genres are oddly named, but they’re all based firmly in reality; and remember, you can click any genre to hear what it sounds like.)

Compared to everyone else, Connected Home Listeners really like the following music genres:

  1. Hip Pop is catchy hip hop with an emphasis on pop elements.
  2. Modern Uplift is anthemic, stirring modern rock.
  3. Intelligent Dance Music (aka IDM) is electronic music influenced by a wide range of electronic styles, especially variations of Detroit techno.
  4. Dance Rock is rock with dance influences, originating in the ’80s in the wake of post-punk and disco.
  5. Gauze Pop is a laidback, hazy, reverb-laden cousin of dream pop, often with electronic beats and effected vocals.
  6. Indietronica: a combination of indie rock and pop with electronic music
  7. Neo Mellow: a close relative of chillout music, but often featuring more popular artists with a more coffeeshop, acoustic vibe
  8. Progressive Electro House: an offshoot wing of electro house that prioritizes forward-thinking inventiveness
  9. Stomp And Whittle is a folksier version of Stomp And Holler.
  10. Trap Music is the hip-hop version of Trap.
  11. Minimal Dub consists of Dub stripped down to its essence, with hypnotic repetition.
  12. Stomp Pop is inspiring, anthemic pop with a strong downbeat, usually on the bass drum.

Compared to everyone else, Connected Home Streamers are not so much into these genres:

  1. Post-Grunge is rock music influenced by grunge from the early ’90s with its distorted guitars, angst-filled lyrics, and loud-soft dynamics, usually in a more mainstream style
  2. Country rock is a hybrid of rock and country from a wave of rock musicians who began to record country-flavored records in the late ’60s and early ’70s. (Contemporary country rock is often called alt-country.)
  3. Metal is heavy rock music with down-tuned guitars and a ferocious style, first developed in the UK and later in the US during the ’60s and early ’70s, respectively, with strong blues elements, later becoming more aggressive, with extreme distortion, intense beats, and extended guitar solos.
  4. Movie tunes consists of music from classic films.
  5. Christian hip hop is hip hop that emerging in the early ’80s with Christian themes seeking to evangelize and entertain.
  6. Grime presents a combination of UK garage, dancehall, hip hop, and drum and bass, with breakbeats and a distinct “sub-low” bass that emerged in east London in the early 2000s, since influenced by other dance forms.
  7. World music is a term covering a variety of global styles of music outside the Anglophone mainstream, encompassing everything from Arab pop to Zouk.
  8. Tech House combines the rhythmic bass and drums of techno with the harmonies, grooves, and soulful elements of house or progressive house.
  9. Jazz emerged in the early 20th century in the southern US, among African American musicians, combining African and European musical traditions with blue notes, call-and-response, improvisation, polyrhythms, and syncopation.
  10. Classic rock is rock music from the early ’60s to the early ’80s, with a focus on hard rock from the ’70s.
  11. Gangster rap evolved from hardcore hip hop in the mid ’80s, with themes of urban crime and violent lifestyles.
  12. Classical is an umbrella term for high-art music with religious and secular roots from the 11th century to the present, but especially the period between 1550 and 1900.

We expect these musical profiles to be of interest to marketers, and anyone else seeking to understand people who exhibit these new behaviors of connecting televisions and speakers directly to the internet.

And as always, our goal here is to have a bit of fun with data, and hold a mirror up for music fans so they can see themselves a little more clearly.

(CC-licensed Photo courtesy of Flickr/Zechariah Judy)