Radio is at a pivotal point in its history right now. Traditional radio stations are failing to keep younger generations engaged and drowned out by other music services. Teenagers now have access to any music they want and it affects their listening preferences.
Many people think music discovery and keeping up with trends is important. When picking how much of an influence each service has the younger generation (12 – 24 years old) said:
YouTube influences them by 80%
Spotify influences them by 59%
Pandora influences them by 53%
AM/FM Radio influences them 50%
When searching for new music, younger people listen to YouTube or services like Pandora or Spotify. For radio to keep up, there needs to be some enhancements to the system. Luckily, technology to improve radio listening options has begun development.
Innovation in the Digital Age
The radio industry’s best option is to become more innovative and learn from other affected media industries. One way to do that would be to plan out engaging and strong digital services. Doing so, radio stations could keep their audience and even gain new listeners from younger generations.
Recently, the FCC approved digital broadcasting in the U.S. Within a few years, AM/FM radios will broadcast their current shows alongside a digital one on the same frequency.
However, this means that there will be new radios to pick up this signal, and they aren’t available yet. One of the benefits though is that this new signal will be HD.
Some stations are already working on making the switch to digital. But they estimate it to take ten years for all 13,000 stations in the U.S. to convert.
Why Switch to Digital?
There are many benefits to listening to digital radio. With these improvements, AM will have much higher sound quality. Plus, digital is cheaper to broadcast and uses energy-efficient receivers. The signal wouldn’t fade in and out, and static could disappear.
In five to ten years, digital radio prices should be easily affordable. They would be a great option for people who live in remote areas with poor reception to listen to the radio any time they wanted. It could also become popular in other countries, where they rely heavily on shortwave broadcasts, to tune into the radio.
Music Discovery Today
With more people changing how they listen to music, the industry has fallen into a music discovery problem. Streaming music halts the mass exposure that radio had- it’s so much harder to reach a fresh audience when they are cycling through playlists. The chance of a song rocketing an artist into widespread fame is very low.
Traditional radio is still the best way for an artist to reach the mainstream, however, most of their would-be audience is online only. Still, artists can reach fame after gaining access to radio broadcasts, making streaming good for short term success.
Radio stations making the switch to digital broadcasting could also help more musicians reach success this way. With more listening options, there is a higher chance of new music discovery for more artists.
With more and more listeners opting for a digital streaming service than radio, it is important for radio to follow through on implementing their own digital systems. In a few years, you could broadcast radio digitally into your home using a new type of receiver.