Will You Pay for Music in Your Car?

We’ve become used to getting our music free while we drive. Radios have been part of cars since about 1931. Ford introduced the 8-track in 1965 and cassette players soon followed. By 1984, Sony was making an in-dash CD player with six-pack changers on the horizon.  Yes, satellite radio came along about fifteen years ago, but that remains a niche market as only so many people seem willing to pay for music in their car.

Now we’re moving into the era of the connected car where it’s possible to integrate digital music services with your dashboard. The trick is that for maximum effect, you need to pay for these services–for data costs at the very least. How do you feel about that? Chances are you’re thinking “Meh.”  From Music Business Worldwide.

[N]ew data out of the US suggests that nation’s motorists just aren’t ready to play ball. And that’s a worry. Because according to estimates, there’s more than 210m of them.

According to research from trusted pollster Ipsos, an overwhelming majority of American drivers still prefer listening to free AM or FM radio in their cars instead of digital services such as Pandora, Spotify and Sirius XM.

Ipos’s survey of thousands of 18+ drivers concluded that 84% of Americans continue to use AM/FM radio as their in-car audio entertainment over new digital options.

The scariest stat for the likes of Spotify, Sirius – which charges around $30 a month – and the music business at large?

Of those US consumers who do stream audio in their car, says Ipsos, less than one-third are paying anything at all.

And it gets worse: 80% of those who currently choose to listen to free in-car streaming digital audio options say they would not be willing to pay for it in the future.

Interesting. So does this mean that the connected car won’t be as ubiquitous as I’ve been predicting? We’ll see.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

One thought on “Will You Pay for Music in Your Car?

  • April 28, 2015 at 9:12 am

    This comes down to the devaluation of music as a whole. Music simply isn’t worth what it was 15-20 years ago. The music industry still feels that a singular song is worth $1-2, whereas the listening public values it at pennies on the dollar, if that. I am currently on the fence about keeping my SiriusXM subscription that is expiring after the free trial I got with a new vehicle. While it’s valuable to me, I don’t value the price they charge for it. I pay $10 a month for rdio and find I derive more enjoyment having access to virtually every album released than the radio proposition.


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