News Release

New research finds digital music streaming consumption dropped as a result of COVID-19 and lockdowns

Decline in human mobility has stunning consequences for content streaming

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

New INFORMS journal Marketing Science Study Key Takeaways:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns significantly reduced the consumption of audio music streaming in many countries as people turned to video platforms.
  • On average, audio music consumption decreased by 12.5% after the World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic declaration in March 2020.


BALTIMORE, MD, February 14, 2022 – Music streaming services were an unlikely area hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. New research in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science finds the drop in peoples’ mobility during the pandemic significantly reduced the consumption of audio music streaming. Instead, people turned more to video platforms.

“On average, audio music consumption decreased by more than 12% after the World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic declaration on March 11, 2020. As a result, during the pandemic, Spotify lost $838 million of revenue in the first three quarters of 2020,” said Jaeung Sim of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). “Our results show that human mobility plays a much larger role in the audio consumption of music than previously thought.”

The study, “Virus Shook the Streaming Star: Estimating the COVID-19 Impact on Music Consumption,” conducted by Sim alongside Daegon Cho also of KAIST, Youngdeok Hwang of City University of New York and Rahul Telang of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), looked at online music streaming data for top songs for two years in 60 countries, as well as COVID-19 case and lockdown statistics and daily mobility data, to determine the nature of the changes.

“Despite the common expectation that the pandemic would universally benefit online media platforms, we found that it adversely impacted music streaming services,” said Telang of Heinz College at CMU. “Our findings imply that the substantially changing media consumption environment can put streaming music in a fiercer competition against other media forms that offer more dynamic and vivid experiences to consumers.”

The researchers found that music consumption through video platforms was positively associated with the severity of COVID-19, lockdown policies and time spent at home.


Link to full study.


About INFORMS and Marketing Science

Marketing Science is a premier peer-reviewed scholarly marketing journal focused on research using quantitative approaches to study all aspects of the interface between consumers and firms. It is published by INFORMS, the leading international association for the decision and data sciences. More information is available at or @informs.





Ashley Smith


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