Back in the day, the radio is where you went if you wanted to know about new music. But when the Internet came along with its infinite chooses, it bled away a lot of radio listeners with its promise of greater variety and no talk or commercials. But now a weird thing is happening. Those who abandoned old-school radio (or never got into it in the first place) are discovering that it can be very, very useful. Thank you Apple Music and Beats 1.
But Apple Music might also be doing radio a disservice, stealing its power for its own purposes. From Wired:
The AM/FM dial used to provide the only way to sample new music. But after platforms like Soundcloud and Spotify and Pandora opened the floodgates for discovery, terrestrial radio’s lone advantage was the connection between a trusted DJ and a local community. With Beats 1, Apple Music is trying to bridge the gap between having an infinite playlist and having no idea where to begin—and to erode radio’s last best hope.
While streaming services provide endless ways to introduce listeners to unfamiliar music, the sheer number of them has fragmented the market. As we listen to music more each year, radio still holds the crown in one very important regard. “Radio continues to be the #1 source of discovery for new music,” says David Bakula, a Nielsen analyst.
According to Nielsen’s findings, this is true even for younger listeners, the prime audience for streaming services. “For younger millennials in particular, discovery is more and more driven by social media and other digital formats, but that’s still supplemental to radio,” says Bakula.
How is it possible that young people still find most of their music through radio, when there are so many other sources out there? Monie Love, radio DJ on Philadelphia’s classic hip-hop station Boom 107.9 (and ’90s rapper in her own right), points to the power of curation and community. “The reachable, touchable community of terrestrial radio allows it to still have its foothold,” she says. “Music on the radio generates the soundtrack to a life, but it’s also the personalities. People want to be connected with something they feel is authentic.”