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Spotify’s Latest Culture Next Report

Gen Z Played ~16 Billion More Minutes On Spotify Than Millennials in 2021 - Check Out More Insights From Spotify’s Latest Culture Next Report

Full report here

Culture Next
 is Spotify Advertising’s annual global trend report. In the 4th volume, we cover emerging cultural trends among Gen Zs worldwide to help better inform listeners, creators, and advertisers on the future of the digital audio landscape and culture at large.

18-to-24 year-olds played more than 578 billion minutes of music on Spotify in 2021 – more than any other cohort, and ~16 billion more minutes than Millennials. In contrast to social platforms that focus on comparisons and likes, digital audio provides an oasis for Zs to better understand themselves and lean into music and podcasts that transport listeners back to simpler times. In fact, our study found that 73% of Zs use audio to better understand themselves and 68% of Zs said they like listening to and watching media from earlier decades, because it reminds them of when things were less complicated.

This year’s report explores how brands can meet Z’s where they are.


Gen Z is even more stressed out than when we spoke to them for last year’s report. We’re watching them work through their feelings in real-time on Spotify. Mental Health is the most streamed podcast genre on Spotify among Zs, with a 62% increase in streams in 2022 vs 2021.

  • Zs are more likely than Millennials to describe their generation as “stressed out” (67% vs 48%).
  • 67% use audio (music, podcasts, etc.) to cope with stress and anxiety. 57% of Gen Zs listen to podcasts for comfort, to soothe themselves or to decompress.
  • 62% of older Gen Zs (18- to -24-year-olds) said they turn to podcasts to get answers to hard or personal questions before talking to their families about it.
  • Over the last year alone, average podcast listenership among Gen Zs in the U.K. increased by 51% on Spotify between Q1 2022 and the year prior. 
  • Now, 18- to-24-year-olds in the U.K. are listening to podcasts at least weekly (56% vs 32% of 15- to 17-year-olds). 

Over a third of Zs (42%) feel that they were born in the wrong decade. What’s more, a whopping 59% believe life was better before social media…despite most of them never experiencing a world without it.

  • 58% of older Gen Zs reported that they feel burnt out by the demands of technology and social media.
  • 70% of Zs like when brands bring back advertising campaigns from decades past.
  • 63% of Zs like brands that were popular in the decades before they were born.
  • In the U.K., 74% of Gen Zs like when brands bring back old aesthetic styles, and 72% love when brands produce retro products or content

Gen Zs are embracing the worlds of digital and audio in order to foster deeper, more meaningful connections with creators. 

  • 46% of Zs in the U.K. said they’ve joined a digital community, such as subreddit or Discord, for fans of a particular creator.
  • 70% of Zs in the U.K. said audio allows them to explore the outer edges of culture that they wouldn’t otherwise experience.
  • Zs in the U.K. are more likely than their millennial counterparts to follow a music creator on social media after listening to them (49% vs 33%).
  • 70% of Zs in the U.K. said they use audio to understand themselves better, compared with just 64% of their millennial counterparts

What This Means for Advertisers (& How Spotify Can Help, Of Course 😉)

  • Keep it real (and know your memes). Gen Z isn’t afraid to call out brands that misuse memes or appropriate other people’s work.
  • Tap into culture in real time. One major perk of digital audio? Compared to other formats, it’s pretty easy (and quick) to produce, meaning businesses of all sizes have the opportunity to join the cultural conversation while it’s happening.
  • Take them back to the future. Z’s are nostalgic, but they’re also forward-looking. Use contextual targeting to reach them when they’re listening to nostalgic, melancholy, sentimental, and other moody playlists, and invite an artist to discuss how they take musical cues from the past. Or try sourcing creators who are using their music and sound to express their vision for a new world.
  •  …Or help them turn back time. 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. Or take Gen Z back to specific moments in life, like Netflix: They transported listeners back to their 12-year-old selves for The Adam Project.
  • Bringing Culture Next to Cannes Lions

Full Methodology:

  • For this issue of Culture Next, Spotify conducted a combination of qualitative, quantitative, and first-party data analysis that explored distinct segments of Gen Z (15-25) based on lifestage, as well as their millennial (26-40) counterparts.
  • We partnered with youth culture agency Archrival to conduct eight Zoom focus groups and 13 in-depth interviews, ultimately speaking with over four dozen respondents in 16 markets (United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Japan, Australia / New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates).
  • We conducted additional in-depth interviews with advertising and audio industry thought-leaders.
  • We also fielded a global quantitative survey via Lucid among 12,500 respondents in March and April of 2022 (with approx. 650-750 respondents per market — both in the above markets, as well as Thailand). Findings were additionally grounded in Spotify’s unique Streaming Intelligence and first-party data. 

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