Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Relevant radio or digital dominance?

Streaming of digital music is now the most common means by which the largest consumers of recorded music, the 16 to 24 age group, who previously would have been the age group that would have bought vinyl singles and put your band on Top of the Pops. Playlist curators have replaced record companies and streaming is the new vinyl. But wait a minute. What is happening is that music consumers are listening to what essentially is radio. Radio with a difference in that instead of being "broadcast" it is being "narrowcast" to sometimes just one individual.   

I don't know about you but listening to live broadcast radio has its charms, it feels like a shared experience somehow. The RAJAR Midas Audio survey on broadcast radio listening habits is interesting reading for those who wonder about the relevance of traditional audio broadcast in terms of reach. Web based services pale to near insignificance by comparison with live broadcast radio having a near 75% reach. Almost half of the listening hours are outside the home, mainly at work and in a vehicle. 

In terms of reach, live radio, despite being "unfashionable" is still a force to be reckoned with and is likely to become more so since DAB receivers are becoming standard in vehicles and car audio systems. Interestingly, the uptake of live broadcast media where on demand streaming is available is undiminished. It will be interesting to note the effect of increased availability of on demand media in vehicles. The car being a popular location for listening to audio content which may convert up to 20% of total listening hours it represents to on demand and away from broadcast.

Listening to the radio at work accounts for a significant number of listening hours (32%) and this is increasingly spent listening to on demand services.

Before we all get too excited though, 91% of live audio consumed is speech based. So in terms of reach for music promotion this suggests that live radio airplay might reach 1.6 million listeners under optimal conditions. The Radio 4 Today program reported peak listening figures of  over 11 million. 

The take home message I think is that the power of live radio is vastly underused in terms of music promotion. Half of the listeners in the survey stated that they listened alone, which might explain the propensity to listen to speech content. 

As I suggested in my previous post, capturing an audience is as much about situation and timing as it is about form and content. Live media leaves something to serendipity in that respect.

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