The Buggles may have been premature in announcing that “Video Killed the Radio Star.” In fact, new research shows the radio star is literally streaming back with a once elusive demographic along for the ride.
Online radio, defined as online only radio or streaming broadcast radio is delivering a so-called “Super Demographic” according to market analyst Parks Associates in research conducted for digital audio advertiser TargetSpot.
This “Super Demographic” shows that these users love and engage with their music content and are strong influencers of others.
Digital audio consumers are deeply “tuned in” and engaged with their content, listening over three hours per days and also listen to broadcast radio up to three hours per day. Once thought to be mutually exclusive audiences, the study shows 66 percent of digital radio listeners listen to the same or more broadcast radio as a result of their digital audio use.
Most users use more than one device to listen to music. For example, while 96 percent listen on a desktop or laptop computer, 45 percent will listen on a smartphone and 15 percent on a tablet.
They are highly engaged with the content: “These consumers consistently listen from their home or work computers, smartphones and tablets. They change stations multiple times per day [depending on their mood], refer to their online media players to check the names of songs and artists, and spend substantial amounts of time selecting, personalizing and interacting with a wide variety of digital audio content.”
It’s easier to engage now that online radio is making its way off the desktop and is now coming with us where we’ve always wanted to have our music. A growing number of smartphone users are also streaming their favorite stations in the car, bus or train.
Most notably, 64 percent of these users are strong influencers of others, making them very desirable. According to the study, “These consumers are actively involved in social networks, frequently recommend products and services to friends, and are often asked for advice on what to buy, where to eat and where to travel.”
This demographic, the influencers, is who mass media traditionally could never capture because include is based on word of mouth. Now, here we are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pandora, Last.FM, Grooveshark and any other number of music sites.
Having been in radio for almost ten years, the “Olde Guarde of Radio” has been kicking and screaming about this Internet thing, rarely measures the web well and let’s not even talk about the online music licensing wars. This marks a potential turnaround in accepting the obvious: we are a highly mobile society and love our music.
What this report appears to lack is detailed demographics. Yes, I’m THAT big a stats geek. While it does reflect survey respondents as being 18 and over, it still raises a concern as many younger users are not listening to broadcast radio anywhere near the rate of earlier generations. This seems to be statistically washed. Also, some of the numbers can be called into questions as Pandora reported more than 90 million U.S. listeners alone last year. The actual number of digital audio users may indeed be significantly higher.
This could still be a turning point for radio in the U.S., and a chance for broadcasts to interact with the music consumer in a way they want to be engaged. There could be a beautiful sounding future if the industry that I love is smart enough to take it.