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There are lots of new talent and established powerhouses out there – but which music artists are Gen Z and Millennials’ favorite?
The latest music behavior survey showed that the way young consumers listen to music has changed. More traditional ways of listening to music are starting to wane, and social media and YouTube are the two most important ways for millennials and millennials to listen to music today. Social media (hello, TikTok) has made it easier for young consumers to discover new music and for young artists to rise to superstardom. Check out Olivia Rodrigo, whose “driver’s license” song set numerous trends on TikTok earlier this year and helped make her one of the biggest and most streamed artists worldwide today.
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Thanks to the fragmentation and fluidity of fame, the landscape of music has changed drastically. So who do Gen Z and Millennials count as their favorite music artists these days? We asked in our most recent music behavior survey, and the most common responses were:
Before we move on to the artists on the list, we should point out that “None” is actually one of the most common responses from Generation Z and Generation Y. Some contributors who wrote the artist “Nothing” told us “They like variety” or “Because there’s so much to choose from”. But many named him a favorite musician, and Drake was the most mentioned musical artist among Gen Z and Millennials. The rapper was named Artist of the Decade at this year’s Billboard Music Awards and has done a lot to stay relevant with young fans. Last year, the song “Toosie Slide” (and its accompanying dance) became a viral hit on TikTok. In September, she released Certified Lover Boy, whose album cover inspired thousands of memes and quickly rose to the top of the charts. According to one contributor, Drake is “an icon and has been making music for all kinds of atmospheres and still has been making music for over 10 years.” The two top artists on the list are hip-hop/rap artists, and our research has shown that it’s the number one genre of music among young consumers, with more than half of 13-39-year-olds saying they enjoy listening to it.
The most named artists after Drake, Eminem, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift are musical powers that have consistently topped the list of favorite young musicians in previous years. In the past two years, Bieber has released two albums – Changes (which includes the viral song “Yummy” heard on TikTok) and Justice – but has also found ways to connect with his younger fans in other ways, like releasing limited edition Crocs. launches a hemp line of pre-rolled joints. Then of course there is Swift. He was voted top artist in 2019, which he says represents generations of Generation Z and Millennials, and has topped the rankings of their favorite artists in the past years. It’s dropped a few spots on this year’s list, but has managed to hold a spot in the top 5, and there’s plenty of evidence to show why. He released not one but two surprise albums in a year, basically pushing Cottagecore into the mainstream, announcing that he’d be re-recording some of his old albums, and finally debuting on TikTok – or should we? #SwiftTok is proving its position as a mainstay for this generation of young consumers.
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BTS ranked sixth on the Gen Z and Millennials list, and also made the 2019 rank of musicians they think represent their generation. The 2018 Culture Without Borders Trend Report explored the growing interest in K-pop, and it has really skyrocketed in recent years, with BTS being one of the most popular groups to come out of this genre. They constantly break streaming records and the internet. The group has made such an impact on the lives of their young fans that the UN has recruited them to talk about the importance of covid vaccines, and their presentations and musical performances at UN headquarters have been viewed millions of times. One of the things that resonated with attendees was the group’s ability to be relatable and authentic, and their efforts to create “an emotional connection with millions of fans.” One participant told us: “They’re my favorite because they’re humble, caring and kind, and seem like really good people. They don’t flaunt their wealth, looks or achievements, and are down to earth no matter what.”
The rest of the list is dominated by mega music stars like Ariana Grande, Rihanna, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Cardi B. But when we compare favorite musicians named by Gen Z and Millennials, there are some key differences:
Millennials are more likely to say they are not their favorite music artist, but they are also more likely to list Eminem, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift as their favorite music artists. If you’ve been paying attention to Gen Z and Millennial steaks over the past year, you might remember that, in addition to the (jokingly) debate over the sides and skinny jeans, they also defended the rapper for Eminem with their loyal Millennial fans. some Gen Z have “canceled” it, so it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that it ranks higher among millennials than Gen Z.
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Meanwhile, Gen Z is more likely to list newer names like Juice Wrld, Doja Cat, NBA YoungBoy, and Machine Gun Kelly (who started his career as a rapper in the mid-2000s but has recently diverged into the pop punk and emo scene). saw a resurgence in TikTok last year). Despite passing away in 2019, it is clear that Juice Wrld’s music still resonates with young fans and is one of the top five musicians of Generation Z. His 2018 single “Lucid Dreams” has been streamed more than a billion times on Spotify, peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and featured posthumous collaborations with artists like The Weeknd. One participant told us that Juice Wrld is her favorite artist because her music “has a meaning behind it and makes [them] feel good”. Meanwhile, NBA YoungBoy made it to our top list for the first time, and his popularity is clearly being driven by Gen Z, and the young group is more likely to call him a favorite compared to the Millennials. Last year, the Wall Street Journal called him “the biggest music star you’ve never heard of,” and it’s true. He posts his music regularly and privately on YouTube, and has previously been on the video-sharing platform’s Top Music Artists chart in the US for 101 consecutive weeks, and has consistently been one of the top artists on Billboard’s music charts. One contributor says he’s “just unique and different”, while another says he’s “the greatest artist in the world”.
It should also be noted that Billie Eilish is in the top 15 for Generation Z, not Millennials – but given her age, it makes sense for teens to be attracted to and relate to. A 17-year-old contributor even shared that she loves Eilish for being “all about her songs and words,” and young fans have been vocal about having her as a fashion role model. Between a new album, a new Disney+ exclusive gig, and going viral for just about everything in the past few years, he sure knows how to stay in the limelight this generation. Business users can access the full Music Behavior Report and all data here.
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The list includes musicians from 26 African countries, including Angelique Kidjo, Burna Boy, Davido, Wizkid, Mohammed Mounir, Cassper Nyovest, Khaligrapgh Jones, and Sarkodie, who continue to pave the way for and shape African art. for the next generation to follow.
The list includes 18 women, 9 groups and 73 men. The youngest is Nigerian Rema, 20, and Mohammed Mounir, 66, Egyptian, the oldest.
Nigeria leads with 26 representatives, followed by Ghana with 10 musicians, Ivory Coast with 7 and South Africa with 6 musicians.
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Speaking about the list, Traore, CEO of WatsUp TV USA, stated that this annual list focuses on highlighting the African musicians who have had the biggest impact in the industry and commending their meaningful career achievements.