Some Good News and Some Worrying News for Radio in New Studies

New data out of the US offers some new perspectives on how people are using radio and listening to music. The Infinite Dial study says:

  • 82% of the population listens to traditional AM/FM in their cars every day–still a healthy number, but down slightly from previous years (-2% from 2016 and -4% from 2015).
  • Although you may not have shoved a CD into your dashboard in years, 52% of Americans still listen to CDs in their vehicles
  • That CD number is decreasing rapidly as more people (45%), up from 31% are using digital music (i.e. playlists from their smartphones)
  • Streaming services (Spotify, etc) are used by 26%, up from 2014’s figure of 14%.
  • Satellite radio ranks at 22%

Source: Radio Ink

Since we’re on the topic, what about online listening? Again from Radio Ink:

Sixty-one percent of the U.S. population (170 million) people now listen to some type of music over the Internet every month. That’s up 4% from 2016 and most of the growth is coming from listening on mobile devices. The 12-24 demo listens online the most (87%). Fifty-three percent listen every week, up from 12% a decade earlier in 2007.

Finally, music discovery. One more time from Radio Ink.

Radio lost a little ground to YouTube when it comes to music discovery, according to Infinite Dial 2017. Friends and family remain the number one source for music discovery (68%), YouTube came in second (64%), with AM/FM radio dropping to third (63%). Pandora was a distant fourth (48%) and Facebook (41%) was fifth.

All this should provide thought-provoking discussion for people in the traditional broadcast radio industry. How can an analogue technology evolve so that it can continue to provide engaging audio entertainment in a world where content is increasingly available on demand? People like me are working on it–and trust me: we’ll figure it out. Eventually.

Additional insight (and many pretty, colourful charts) can be found here (more details), here (brand awareness) and here (podcasting).

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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