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Every year, Spotify holds a mirror up to its users with their data-driven “Culture Next” report. Last year, their research indicated a cultural shift underpinned by the shutdown of society and the worldwide racial justice movement. For 2021, the report shows that we are experiencing what their team refers to as a “Cultural Rebirth.” In the latest news, Spotify’s research team “spoke to Gen Zs (ages 15-25) and millennials (ages 26-40) to understand the biggest shifts in how both generations are creating, curating, and experiencing culture.” Their Chief Content & Advertising Business Officer, Dawn Ostroff, notes, “one thing is certain: audio is playing a major part in this cultural rebirth.” Things like hour-long podcasts and curated playlists impact the cultural discourse, our outlook on the world, and our emotions. Platforms, like Spotify, are a way of opting out of social media without becoming out-of-touch culturally. We’ve highlighted five critical aspects of Spotify’s “Culture Next” report to analyze why this form of content is so appealing to the millennial and Gen Z audience and how this will impact the future of digital content.

1. The uptick in mental health content. Spotify’s “Culture Next” report found that Gen Z and millennials listen to podcasts centred on mental health and wellness at higher volumes than before. Not only does this reflect the overlapping values of these generations, but it also shows that people are seeking support and ways to cope with mental health. The candidness and honestly of podcasting lends itself to the mental health and wellness discourse better than other platforms, like Instagram. However, we’ll likely see this type of wellness content trickle onto all platforms to meet the growing demand for it in the near future. 

“Unlike traditional broadcasters, who rarely go off-script, audio creators often reveal their vulnerable and raw ‘real’ selves — which listeners are more likely to feel intimately connected with.”

2. Gen Z and millennials define the “Curation Generation.” For people who make audio-driven content or want to be involved in some way, curation is vital. Gen Z and millennials alike draw from existing content to create new media. This new media ranges from highly edited playlists to songs comprised of influences from far-flung corners of the internet that create genre-defying sounds. Curation at this level is evolving the role of the artist and their ability to connect and create. We’ll recognize the “curation generation’s” impact on artistry and cultural influence as this role rises to prominence – watch this space.

3. People trust podcasters more than other Influencers. Spotify’s report found that “unlike traditional broadcasters, who rarely go off-script, audio creators often reveal their vulnerable and raw ‘real’ selves — which listeners are more likely to feel intimately connected with.” Podcasters have found breakaway success in becoming the voice of generation Z and millennials and are those generations’ equivalent of a traditional late-night talk show. The digital landscape is growing, and so is their cultural capital.

“One thing is certain: Audio is playing a major part in this cultural rebirth.”

4. Shared interests build communities online. Platforms, like Spotify, became a hub for cultural connectivity during lockdown last year, and their role as a centre for remote connections persists today. People use the digital space to interact with one another and find groups with similar interests to them. We can learn, share tips, and foster communities effectively in this way, even with our busy lifestyles. With a growing number of content curators, musicians, and podcasters we’ll likely see an increase in niche content built to cater to people’s highly specific needs much like early blogging.  

5. Spotify helps amplify diverse voices. The “Culture Next” report found that over 50% of Gen Z and millennials maintain that they’re creating an improved “normal” since the pandemic. One that is more inclusive and unbound by “traditional gatekeepers of culture.” By eluding said gatekeepers, creators and listeners can “uplift voices and viewpoints that have been historically underrepresented by mainstream media.” The democratization of media underpins this growing cultural movement, which values progress and will be continued online through audio-driven content.

Discover the Spotify “Culture Next” report for yourself here.

thoughts?