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Where have all the music fans gone?

With songs on tap via streaming accounts, music has become more of a passive experience for kids. But could this be about to change?

Music in 2019? It’s a bit meh, to be honest. Kids have more music access and choice than any generation before them, yet scant mentions of artists or songs from our Trendspotter kids (aged 9-12) – beyond perennial favourites like Ariana Grande – indicate they’re the least engaged.

It’s a marked change from past decades where kids had a ‘tribe’: from the Beliebers who loved Justin, the Directioners loyal to 1D and Thatters, fans of Robbie, Gary and co. A musical genre could once be identified purely by the attire of its fans: the Fred Perry shirts and Kangol bucket hats of Britpop; boiler suits and smiley face T-shirts of rave culture; and safety pins and Dr Martins of punk.

Bored kids listening to music in the car
Listening to music has become a passive experience for kids

Why are kids disengaged?

Previous generations of kids would be actively searching for artists and songs, either online or in a record shop, and playing MP3s, CDs and records. They’d tune in to shows and channels like Top Of The Pops and MTV to see performers and make connections with them, mimicking their moves and copying their style, as these artists became their idols.

Today music has been stripped of such personal and physical experience, and is largely a passive event. Kids are relying on music to be ‘served’ to them via playlists – either their own or a family member’s – and often use this ‘random’ selection of music, as a background for other activities, such as gaming. Endless ‘recommended’ YouTube videos contribute to dilution of content and disengagement.

Seven in ten 8-12 year olds access music via YouTube, while almost half use Spotify, found the Childwise Monitor Report 2019. Shared music accounts across generations is the reason why we see anything from Elvis Presley to Queen and Arctic Monkeys popping up in our kids’ music mentions.

‘My mum loves music and she puts her playlist on shuffle in the car. I like any song my mum likes.’ Kamiyah

‘We have a family [Spotify] account and it plays through a Bluetooth speaker.’ Cody

When our kids are discovering new music, the radio plays a key role:

‘I find songs I like on the radio in the car.’ Max

Find out more about kids’ music trends by signing up to our fortnightly Bang on Trend report, see below.

Who are kids listening to?

Ariana Grande is a permanent fixture in our Trendspotter music mentions. Already well known to kids thanks to her Nickelodeon career, Ariana starred in Victorious and Sam and Cat, this helped establish her as a music idol.

DJ Marshmello also creates hype with regular mentions from our Trendspotters as well as recognition on our school visits, where kids recreate his emoji-like masked appearance. Marshmello’s collaborations with popular artists such as Anne-Marie, and the fact he performed live in the game Fortnite back in February, have given him cult status among kids.

What can bring back the buzz?

Despite the music scene being relatively flat in recent months, there’s one genre in particular making waves right now: K-pop. Its sound of pop, rap and electronica with a South Korean twist, performed by charismatic, colourful artists, is capturing kids’ attention worldwide.

K-pop groups have a distinctive style, with bright and bold styles including new-age suits; prints from stripes to zigzags and polka dots; short shorts and crop tops; and oversized hoodies with mini backpacks. It’s easy to spot a K-pop fan at 10 paces.

Boy band BTS (known for elaborate dance routines) are a success in the States and Europe, and recently became the first Korean act to hit the number one spot in the UK charts, with UK tour plans later this year. South Korean girl band Blackpink is also playing concerts in Britain and headlined US festival Coachella earlier this year. The group set a new record for the fastest music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube.

Will K-pop generate the music hype that’s lacking for kids right now and provide the major hit of the summer? Keep it here.

How we can help your brand understand kids

Beano for Brands is a kid-first consultancy and agency for brands seeking to connect with a new generation who are already rewriting the rules of engagement, creativity and even the world around them.

Our fortnightly reports are drawn from a wide range of touch points with real kids and families: Trendspotters (a UK-wide panel aged 9-12), insight and analytics from – the UK’s fastest-growing kids’ site, external research and 80 years of working with kids. Sign up at

Pssst if you don't already get our FREE monthly newsletter updating you on the latest kids' insight, trends and industry news, click here.


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