Digital Killed the Radio Star
The last days of turning a dial to tune in to the frequency of your favorite station could soon be upon us. How we consume music has evolved as a highly personalized and targeted medium. Digital radio or streaming has come of age – ever more prevalent in our everyday lives.
Digital delivery has given us an unlimited amount of music at our disposal, which can be hand-picked from seemingly endless libraries to create playlists or radio-like features that play music randomly. Spotify, iHeartRadio and Pandora are the major players, but recent introductions of Amazon Prime Music and Apple radio show there is room for growth in this space.
One of the key consumer benefits of streaming, compared to terrestrial broadcasting, is customization of content. An Internet connection enables service providers to provide custom content as they monitor and track what consumers are listening to as well as map their likes and dislikes.
The primary benefit to marketers is the availability of this information, which allows them to offer key marketing information on consumers — for which advertisers will pay a premium. This consumer information adds to advertisers’ “digital DNA” that we create through our habits in the digital realm.
One of the present drawbacks of personalized Internet radio services and on-demand music subscription services is the need of an Internet connection. Because most of the music consumed is through a smartphone on a wireless network, service is dependent on the quality of the carrier signal. If there are problems with that signal, consumers will abandon that session, and over time, perhaps even abandon that provider.
The car has long been the last bastion for traditional (analog) radio. There are signs that this, too, is slowly shifting with the introduction of CarPlay by Apple and 4G LTE mobile Internet offered through Onstar. These two mobile radio forms, coupled together, could threaten this last stronghold for traditional radio. No longer would you need to depend on the weather or traffic report on the radio every 10 minutes or so. Rather, reports would be in real time, accurate to your current location.
With all that in mind, I’ve still gotta ask: Is traditional radio really dead? No. Not entirely.
“Radio has been around a long time; it’s deeply embedded in our lives, from homes and cars to the workplac;, it’s cheap and it is easily accessible by all ages. ...There’s no Internet access issues, and you can buy a cheap radio. I can see it going strong for a while yet….” Simon Moran, Managing Director of Last.fm.
Digital and analog radio could continue to grow in harmony, and there may be a number of reasons for this. Indeed, until we’re at a stage where cellular and WiFi are 100% reliable and ubiquitous, digital has not killed off the analog.