Music helped the UK get through lockdown, new insights from the BPI show.

Music raised the nation’s spirits, helping people to feel better, cope with anxiety, and aiding exercise, work and study

At Nordoff Robbins we believe in the power of music. New insights from the BPI show just how important music is for people during lockdown, with over a quarter of the British public have listened to more music since the start of lockdown.

Music listening increased during lockdown

These new insights show that well over a quarter (28%) of all those surveyed said they had increased their music listening compared to pre-lockdown. Only 11% of those asked said they listened to less or no music at all. Music listening was most pronounced among 16 – 24 year-olds, with not far from half (45%) of all the respondents within this group saying they listened to more music since the first national lockdown.

The survey results reinforce a BPI market update on 4th January3 which reported that recorded music consumption in the UK rose by 8.2% in 2020, with 155 million albums or their equivalent either streamed or purchased by fans, including 139 billion audio streams, 16 million CDs, nearly 5 million vinyl LPs, and over 150,000 cassettes.

Why music was so important

Respondents who listened to music were asked why it was so important to them during lockdown.  As many as half (50%) said they listened to music to raise their spirits, with 42% citing music’s ability to help them to relax or sleep.  Four in 10 (40%) said music helped to alleviate boredom, while 27% used it as an aid to boost concentration when working or studying (a figure that rises to 50% among those aged 16 – 24)

A quarter of music listeners viewed it as an ideal accompaniment to exercise – a figure that’s slightly higher among women (27%) – and music was, of course, also valued for keeping families and households entertained, with just over a fifth (21%) noting the importance of this.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize, said:

“Music has many intrinsic additional benefits, not least in raising spirits and promoting wellbeing, but this new research underscores just how much of a lifeline it’s been for people since lockdown – inspiring and reassuring us and also helping many of us to work, study and exercise to greater effect. The transformational power of music to improve lives has rarely been more pronounced.”

Music as an aid to coping with stress and anxiety

A fifth of the respondents reported having feelings of daily anxiety, although as a weekly figure this rose to 60% of all respondents. Of all those expressing feelings of stress and anxiety over half (55%) said that music helped to ease those feelings (rising to 60% among those aged 16 – 24). And of all those using music to help with stress and anxiety, almost everyone (94%) said that it helped to lift their mood, with 91% adding that it helped them to feel a sense of escape that allowed them to forget their problems.

Over three quarters (78%) of those asked said they felt more motivated after listening to music (rising to 81% among women). A broadly similar figure (73%) said they felt more able to manage their stress and anxiety levels thanks to music listening, while 62% said it made them feel better about themselves and more confident generally (rising to 72% among those aged 16 – 24 and 25 – 34).

Music as an aid to exercise and wellbeing

Music was a key component in keeping people motivated to exercise in lockdown. Of all those who went running, 72% did so with music as an accompaniment, with the figure for those undertaking gym/fitness activities (such as home workouts, interval sessions and yoga) rising to 75%.

Of all those exercising with music, 61% said that having music as an accompaniment had a moderate or major impact on duration (i.e. exercising for longer), while 54% said it had a moderate or major impact on frequency (i.e. exercising more often) and 61% said it had a moderate or major impact on intensity (i.e. working harder).  Nearly three quarters (71%) said that it had a moderate or major impact on their enjoyment of the activity.