Music Business

Studies Show Rapid Decline In Radio Listening Globally

OldradioBroadcast radio is still one of the most used sources of media and a top vehicle for music discovery,  but it won't maintain this top spot for long if the current trend holds, according to two major listenership studies


By Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

It had to happen sooner or later. Despite the hopeful numbers thrown around by the radio industry, it appears that digital infotainment consumption is catching up with radio in the one place that it thought it was safe – the automobile. A new study by Strategy Analytics has found that usage is in “fast decline” across the U.S., Europe, and China.

Arrow_outline_green_downThe study found that new car buyers are sending mixed signals regarding whether a radio is even necessary in a new vehicle. This comes on the back of streaming media showing “a remarkable surge in usage and interest,” in regards to media played on portable devices in the car.

That study dovetails with a one from New York University that provides a grim outlook for radio over the next 10 years. The report finds that traditional radio has failed to engage with Generation Z (people born after 1995) and its influence and relevance will continue to decline unless it reinvents itself.

The report found that Gen-Z is projected to account for 40% of the consumer market by 2020, and they have shown little interest in traditional media like radio, having grown up in a demand-consumption society. It also found that there’s been a massive drop-off in radio being used as a music discovery tool, with the most significant decline coming from teens aged 13 and up. Among 12-24 year olds who find music discovery important, AM/FM radio (50%) becomes even less influential, trailing YouTube (80%), Spotify (59%), and Pandora (53%).

The writing seems to be on the wall here. Young people are voting against radio with their non-consumption and the situation will only grow worse as they grow older. And who can blame them? Being used to an on-demand world makes linear entertainment feel old and frustrating. Having to wade through 6 and 7 minute commercial blocks is enough to have anyone, regardless of the age group, turn to something more user friendly.

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  1. Love to get into a dialogue about this…but not in a text box…number 1 we need to start acting like curators not like voices from on high. We need to explore – in partnership with our listeners, not speak at them in regulated repetitious click bait drivel. ‘re advertising…one highly produced entertaing block at the top of the hour …was done before in Europe.. became so well produced it actually rated..gaming more value for all the advertisers than repetitious drips ever did…when you give listeners a choice about tuning into a block of advertising, and you do the block well enough they will quite often choose to check it out…if you keep interrupting the mix it pisses everyone off..stop using the content to trick people into hearing the ads..that is what doesn’t work anymore.

  2. Ps I believe that if we did it right, now this time of info overload…is a potential high time for radio. If we can do what the great journalists the work for our time poor listeners in a respectful manner.. if we can gain their trust then work our asses off to keep it, if we can become their friend again as radio at it’s purest actually is..instead of acting from on high and sounding like an agent of the over regulated system….if if if.

  3. Oh dear, oh dear Mr. Owsinski, who gave you the idea that Radio is declining GLOBALLY? Please don’t try to expand GLOBALLY your doubtful data. Who are you trying to convince?
    Even your theory of the downward trend in USA is doubtful. I also read 18 June 2019 by Nielsen that ‘Radio reaches more Americans (92%) than any other platform.’
    What about Africa where Radio is still the main way in communicating to the majority. Millions still don’t have phones, smart phones, computers or even television and yet in the rural areas where the majority live, they have radio!
    According to a UNESCO survey, ‘Radio is Africa’s most influential information outlet.’
    Let’s get some accurate perspective, Mr. Owsinski.

  4. All the comments above sounds like some prepared speech from iHeart Radio. Radio is and will continue to decline. PERIOD. Where it will bottom out is anyone’s guess. It’s survival would look like an acquisition of the number two company by the number one company to keep the jackals out.

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