LOVE AND LONELINESS IN THE TIME OF LOCKDOWN

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Every story has two sides and lockdown is no different. Some people are seeing romance blossom at home. Others have never felt lonelier. In each case people are using music, podcasts, radio 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, 2,000 of which are from the UK.

 

Love in lockdown

Romance is in the air for some Brits in isolation. During lockdown, 18% have been using romantic content to set the mood at home. Men have stepped-up in the love department by streaming romantic audiobooks and music the most (22% vs 14% women). There are also big differences across the nation. Over 40% of Londoners and a quarter of Northern Irish (26%) surveyed are cosying up to romantic audio content the most. That’s compared to just 9% of Scots and 11% of Welsh.

Romance levels in lockdown change across age groups. Almost a quarter (24%) of British Millennials (25-34) use audio content to spice things up with their partner. But less than a tenth of baby boomers (9%) are doing the same. In addition, 27% of this age group have been vibing to Deezer’s ‘House of Love’ playlist since lockdown began in the UK.

Making “us time” is especially important for lovers in households with five or more people. They’re more likely to stream audio to get into the mood with their partner (31% compared to 14% living with one other person). Income can also play a part in how frisky you’re feeling in lockdown. A little over one third (34%) of respondents on higher incomes are using audio content to set a romantic mood, compared to just 14% of streamers on lower salaries.

Relationship podcasts on Deezer have also seen a dramatic 145% increase in daily active users worldwide since the start of March. Worldwide, people are listening for twice as long today compared to the beginning of March – up to 40 minutes from 20 minutes on average.

Britain isn’t as keen to use audio as a love language as other countries. Over one third globally (37%) use audio content to set the mood and get pulses racing. The Middle East and North Africa are up for it the most (61%), while the US (54%) and Brazil (43%) are hot on their collars. Sadly, the Brits (18%), Germans (23%) and French (33%), home to the city of love, are not so much into “ooh-la-la”.

 

We asked Dr. Sarita Robinson, Principal Lecturer in the School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire for comment on love in lockdown. She says, “You might not expect romance to be the first thing on people’s minds during the Covid-19 outbreak, however researchers have found that during a crisis we are likely to have an increased need to be close to others. This need to be close to others is known as traumatic bonding and is the result of increases in the hormone Oxytocin that occur when we are under stress. Oxytocin is sometimes known as the love hormone. Higher Oxytocin levels may be the reason listeners are keen to be more romantic with their partners during lockdown.”

“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…or first depending how you look at it.” noted Alexander Holland, Deezer’s Chief Content Officer 

 

Loneliness in lockdown

Not everyone is getting loved up during lockdown. Over a quarter (27%) of Brits have experienced a significant downturn in mood since the first two weeks of isolation, with people in London and the North West hit hardest (32% and 27%).

Younger generations are more likely to be “depressed” in lockdown (13% of 18-24 year olds  vs 7% 55+ year olds). That explains why over a quarter of Gen Z (26%) listen to music to sleep and 21% to combat loneliness. People aged 45-54 seem to be coping better and are mainly using music (49%) and radio (32%) to chill out.

Who you live with can also play a part in how isolated you feel during lockdown. Surprisingly, those living with more than five people are more likely to stream audio content to combat sadness than those living alone (27% vs 20%). Over a third (38%) of those living with flatmates are using music to not feel lonesome in lockdown. That is compared to 20% of those living with a partner or spouse.

Brits are also embracing podcasts to help battle loneliness. A fifth of Millennials (25-34), and over a quarter (27%) of those who live with housemates, are streaming podcasts to feel less isolated. Those living in London (45%) and the North East (27%) say that streaming podcasts helps them feel better. This explains why across the country people are listening to more podcasts (26%), with podcasts such as ‘Sleep With Me‘ hitting number 26 on Deezer charts.

 

Up-lift in lockdown

How we cope with loneliness also depends on where we live. Londoners are more likely to turn to wellbeing audio content (46%), followed by those in the North East (29%) and West Midlands (28%). It looks like high earners are also more likely to seek out and stream wellbeing content compared to people on lower salaries (48% vs 28%).

Wellbeing content that focuses on relaxation, mindfulness and self-improvement are also helping younger generations get through lockdown. Gen Z and Millennials are using this type of content the most (32% of 18-24 year olds and 31% of 25-34 year olds). Just 11% of baby boomers are turning to wellbeing audio.

In general, pop (57%) and rock music (38%) seem to be doing the trick in helping Brits stay positive during lockdown. That explains why nostalgic feel good songs such as ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis are back on Deezer’s UK charts, since 1st March.

Dr Robinson noted: “In the UK, people have been listening to high energy pop and rock to help them cope with feelings of loneliness. This is because upbeat music can help us to regulate our emotions by triggering the brain to release the feel-good hormones, endorphins.”

 

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:

 

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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. 

 

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