Every story has two sides and lockdown is no different. Some people are seeing romance blossom at home. Others have never felt lonelier. In both cases people are using music, podcasts and audiobooks to cope with confinement. These are some of the findings in new consumer research commissioned by global audio streaming service Deezer. The poll includes 11,000 people across eight countries1.
Love in lockdown
We may be stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean love is lost. Over a third of respondents (37%) globally are playing romantic audio content at home to keep the spark alive. Men are taking the lead, with 41% streaming romantic audiobooks and music, compared to 33% of women. Around the world, Middle Eastern and North African listeners tend to cozy up to romantic audio content the most (61%), followed by US (54%) and Brazil (43%). Europeans though are less likely to listen to romantic audio. The French are not so much into “ooh-la-la,” (33%) and the interest drops further in Germany to less than a quarter (23%) and less than one in five Brits (18%) tuning in.
Relationship podcasts on Deezer have also seen a dramatic 145% increase in daily active users worldwide since the start of March. People are listening twice as long today compared to the beginning of March – up to 40 minutes from 20 minutes on average.
There could be a scientific explanation for this. We asked Dr. Sarita Robinson, Principal Lecturer in the School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire for comment on this. She says, “the rise in romantic music during lockdown could be driven by increases in people’s oxytocin levels. During times of stress we are more likely to produce the love hormone oxytocin, and this in turn leads to more “tend-and-befriend” behaviours.”2
There are generational differences as well. Almost half (45%) of Millennials (25-34) and Gen X (46%) use audio content to spice things up with their partner. But just one in five baby boomers (19%) are doing the same. In addition, Gen X are vibing to Deezer’s ‘House of Love’ playlist the most.
Making “us time” is especially important for lovers in households with five or more people. They’re more likely to stream to get into the mood with their partner (45% compared to just 30% living with one other person). Income can also play a part in how frisky you’re feeling. Over two thirds (67%) of respondents on higher incomes are using audio content to set a romantic mood, compared to just 27% of streamers on lower salaries.
“I’m not surprised that more people want to get closer with their partners. Being locked in together can easily cause tensions to run high. So when you live in a full house, like I do, music, podcasts and audiobooks can definitely put you in the right mood to romance your partner. As a German, I was surprised to see Germany come in second to last, but my wife probably wasn’t. I do take some comfort in the fact that we didn’t come last,” noted Alexander Holland, Deezer’s Chief Content Officer
Loneliness in lockdown
Not everyone is getting loved up during lockdown. Gen Z and Millennials are suffering the most from isolation. Almost a fifth of Gen Z (19%) and 17% of Millennials have experienced a significant downturn in mood since the first two weeks of lockdown, compared to just 7% of those over 55.
The younger generations are also more likely to be “depressed” in lockdown (18% of 18-24 y/o vs. 9% 55+ of y/o). That explains why 19% of Gen Z listen to audiobooks to sleep and 24% listen to music to combat loneliness. People aged 45-54 seem to be coping better and are mainly using music to chill out (59%).
Dr Robinson comments, “Music can help lift us up when we are feeling lonely. Audio content is helpful as it breaks the silence which can become overwhelming. Podcasts and audiobooks act as a distraction and fill the time until we have the next phone call or video chat.”
But depression isn’t only connected to age, your income also makes a difference. Those on high incomes are almost twice as likely to stream audio content to combat loneliness than those earning the least (41% on low incomes vs. 79% high earners).
Who you live with can play a part in how isolated you feel during lockdown. Surprisingly, those living with grandparents, many of whom are considered vulnerable, are most likely to stream music to stop feeling lonely (41% v 33% of people who live alone). Nearly a third (31%) of adults with kids in the house are also using music to not feel lonesome in lockdown.
People are also embracing podcasts. A fifth (19%) of people living with a partner, and almost a third (30%) of those who live with housemates, are streaming podcasts to feel less isolated. Almost a quarter (24%) of people who live alone say that streaming podcasts helps them feel better. This explains why some of them are listening to more podcasts (26%) and others have started for the first time during lockdown (19%).
Up-lift in lockdown
How we cope with loneliness also depends on where we live. People in the US are around three times as likely to use podcasts to combat loneliness (15%), compared to France (5%) and UK (7%). Elsewhere, one in ten Germans and Brazilians fight the feelings of being alone with podcasts.
Wellbeing content that focuses on relaxation, mindfulness and self-improvement are also helping us get through lockdown. Middle Easterners are more likely to turn to well-being audio content (73%) followed by Brazilians (61%). Americans follow closely at (53%), while just 31% look for well-being content in France, Germany and the UK. It looks like high earners are also more likely to seek out and stream wellbeing content compared to people on lower salaries (73% vs 41%).
Deezer’s Alexander Holland added: “No one is immune from depression and loneliness. The good news is that audio can provide some relief when we need it the most. That’s why we curate dedicated playlists and channels for our users. After all, we’re in this together.”
Dr Robinson concludes, “Lockdown is tough on everyone’s mental health. We need to take the time to adopt new strategies which help us cope during this difficult time. As a survival psychologist, I know that challenging events can have positive impacts on people’s lives. Here are four quick tips on how you can use audio to get through this lockdown:
- Repeated exposure to the news can impact negatively on our mood. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the current situation then it is time to distract your brain so you don’t ruminate on stuff you can’t fix. Switch on a comedy podcast and listen to something uplifting and light-hearted
- Just because we need to be physically apart does not mean that we can’t socially connect. Put on some music and then switch on a video chat and learn a dance routine with your friend or organize a music quiz
- Feeling tense. Put on your favorite upbeat songs and sing and dance along. This can be a great way to release music tension, getting you to breathe more deeply and lift your mood
- Crisis can be a catalyst for change. If you are having a period of self-reflection, embrace it and download some inspirational audiobooks and podcasts to support the chapter for the new you”
Whether you’re dialing up the romance or fighting loneliness in lockdown, Deezer’s ‘At Home’ channel has got the music, podcasts, audiobooks and radio stations to keep you entertained.