News & Insights

Audio streaming unlocks people's identity and brings communities together

The digital audio age is in full swing, and streaming platforms like Spotify increasingly influence the way people engage with their passions and interests. But what does this look like in reality? We teamed up with Mindshare to conduct a new study showing how identity is linked to people’s audio streaming behavior.

People’s identities are evolving as we increase our time spent with digital platforms. From self-expression to our relationship with other cultures, our identities influence our behaviors, passions, and interests, and connect us through shared experiences. What’s more, identity is driving decisions that impact every aspect of our lives—including the media we choose to consume.

In the audio space, streaming platforms like Spotify have fundamentally changed the way people engage with their passions and the interests they identify with. Leveraging first-party data and primary research, this new audience targeting study used Mindshare’s 'Precisely Human Intelligence' methodology to understand the consumer through data accuracy and their human values, to show how they can be engaged with empathy. Spotify’s streaming intelligence was also used to determine ad-supported Spotify listeners’ streaming behaviors in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

We discovered six key identity mindsets—which we believe underscore just how engaged Spotify listeners are and why advertisers looking to empathise with them need to take note.

Key global findings


Multiple identities are reflected in playing music, with 63% saying that different playlists represent different parts of their identity. People's podcast listening habits also reflect their identity—58% agree that the podcasts they listen to say a lot about who they are, although half of respondents (47%) say that people would be surprised to know what podcasts they listen to.


Streaming music gives Spotify users a sense of belonging and a way to connect with others. In fact, two in five say that playlists allow them to connect with other people, while one in four share playlists with friends and family on social occasions. Podcasts also allow people to connect, with over half of respondents (55%) agreeing that sharing podcasts is a way to start conversations and socialise with others, and 41% admitting they love to debate podcast's content/topics.

Moods and emotions

Music streaming makes people feel instantly good and triggers the nostalgic emotions inherent to people’s identity. Of those asked, 76% agree that streaming music takes them back to specific memories, 65% have different playlists for different moods (high energy, relaxation, etc.), and 69% say that streaming music provides them with instant gratification.

Pushing cultural boundaries

Music is a conduit to experience and learning about other cultures, with 69% saying that music streaming platforms offer a way to expand their taste in music and experiment with different genres and cultures. When it comes to podcasts, 68% listen to podcasts to get different points of view on a specific topic, while 61% agree that podcasts help them to develop a deeper understanding of different cultures.

Activity/movement-based moments

More and more people are streaming their music whilst on the move, with 52% creating playlists for specific activities/moments. Similarly, 75% say that podcasts allow them to enjoy content while on the go or doing other things.


Streaming platforms provide a way to discover new and personally relevant content. For 61% of respondents, on-platform recommendations help them discover new music that’s relevant to them, and shared public playlists are a key source for discovery. In addition, 52% stream from shared/public/recommended playlists, while 70% say that they are always able to find great content to listen to.

What does all of this mean for advertisers?

This study makes a compelling case for advertisers: Evidently, identities manifest on streaming platforms such as Spotify—and this creates a valuable opportunity for reaching listeners with empathy and precision.

“Music, as a universal language, drives people’s self-identity, and podcasts create a unique and more intimate connection with the listener. In a world flooded with visual stimuli and screens, sound is a crucial element for content and entertainment experiences, and a medium for advertisers to engage with consumers’ identities with empathy and precision in the audio streaming space. Understanding how identity manifests in streaming platforms is fundamental for brands in order to be relevant in the right context, to be able to respond to consumers’ needs and emotions, and to forge deeper connections with them.”

– Rita Ibarra, Business Director of Data Strategy & Insights at Mindshare

“We know that streaming platforms like Spotify have changed the way people engage with their passions and interests. From self-expression to discovery, we believe these six key identities will help advertisers better understand and reach digital audio listeners, especially on Spotify.”

– Roger Purcell, Associate Director, Insights and Activation

About the methodology

Mindshare’s Precisely Human Intelligence methodology combines both empathy and precision through a deeper understanding of human identity connected to first-party data. This approach enables Mindshare’s media planning to take an audience-first and innovative approach to audio. The data used was from a recontact survey used in a bespoke audio streaming study—Choreographs WPP’s Audience Origin data—covering audio behaviour, consumer identities, lifestyle, and media consumption.

The collaboration with Spotify provided access to more first-party data based on users’ streaming behaviors that go beyond demographics—revealing moods, mindsets, and moments, across a variety of content, contexts, and devices.

This research looked at the behavior of 1,081 Spotify ad-supported listeners across several key audience segments, including: Men (18+ years old), Women (18+ years old), Gen Z (18-24 years old), Millennials (25-44 years old), and Parents (18+ years old), in the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia.

Want to know about digital audio advertising? Read our 101 guide, or learn about how you can advertise on Spotify.

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