Over the last decade there has been a steady decline in traditional radio listenership. While fewer people – especially millennials – are using their radio dials, alternative radio programs, tools and websites have noted a surge in popularity.
Driven online for immediacy and niche programming, today’s radio listeners use a variety of tools to stay versed on the latest music, stay up to date with local and world news and gather information. As a result, there has been a more than 13 percent decrease in radio station listenership across the board.
The new era of radio, which was ushered in by niche providers like Sirius Satellite Radio, prides itself on offering personalized content that the audience wants. The ability to find exactly what you want and circumvent what you don’t has helped these alternative radio services grow exponentially over the last decade.
The proliferation of digital devices like smartphones, tablets, iPods and MP3 and 4 players also helped non-traditional radio platforms expand their audience base. These devices also made the next generation of contemporary radio which centers around podcasting, live streaming and content curation possible.
Designed specifically for iPod users during its infancy, the podcast and its popularity have come a long way in the little over a decade since its inception. Now more than one billion people download and live stream approximately 300,000 podcasts in more than 100 languages.
In addition to offering content on a wide number of topics and issues, the ability to listen to your favourite program whenever you like has also aided in the growth of podcast popularity. When National Public Radio introduced their investigative journalism podcast series Serial listenership for both the traditional station and the podcast grew.
“Our audience loves listening to our content through podcasting, and we love delivering it. We like to engage our audience on whatever platform they choose to listen,” said Zach Brand, vice president of digital media for NPR.
Live streaming and music subscription services have been touted as the new economic model for the music industry because they accommodate the diverse music needs of listeners, while ensuring artists are compensated for their work. Last year revenues from streaming music services surpassed both digital downloads and physical media for the first time.
“The music industry is now a digital business, deriving more than 70 percent of its revenues from a wide array of digital platforms and formats,” said Cary Sherman, CEO of The Recording Industry Association of America. “The share of revenues from those digital formats surpasses that of any other creative industry.”
Content Curation Sites
The best thing about podcasting and live streaming is that the technologies are readily available for anyone who would like to create a radio-style show or live stream their unique music. Thanks to content curation sites like ConnectPal, those without affiliations to powerhouse music companies and news outlets can still share their thoughts, messages and information.
Dubbed the world’s first content marketplace, a number of internet radio hosts, podcasters, audio-bloggers and vloggers have made ConnectPal their website of choice. Similar to a music streaming service, ConnectPal users are able to set a monthly subscription fee for their content ensuring they are able to monetize their work and create more.
As a content marketplace, ConnectPal takes care of all the billing and payment details for both users and subscribers, and is able to help content creators grow their audience by generating traffic.
As we have seen, the growth of non-traditional radio and media sources has also given way to better tools that are now available to all of us. Last month, BBC Radio One reported one of its sharpest declines in listenership in recent years.
If traditional radio stations want to keep pace with the new digital landscape, it is imperative they adopt some or all of the above alternative media options before they experience further marginalization.