Did Streaming Kill The Radio Star? Maybe

The streaming era is changing the music industry faster than anyone could have predicted. Streaming used to be less than 10% of the recorded music business. But by the end of 2015, it accounted for nearly 50%. It also has changed radio listening habits. Reports from the musicFirst Coalition and RIAA highlight many of these changes, in particular how Americans are discovering new music.

2021-10-06
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The streaming era is changing the music industry faster than anyone could have predicted. Streaming used to be less than 10% of the recorded music business. But by the end of 2015, it accounted for nearly 50%. It also has changed radio listening habits. Reports from the musicFirst Coalition and RIAA highlight many of these changes, in particular how Americans are discovering new music.

The streaming era is changing the music industry faster than anyone could have predicted. Streaming used to be less than 10% of the recorded music business. According to the Mid-year 2021 RIAA Revenue Report, revenues from streaming music, a category including a wide range of formats such as paid subscription services, ad-supported services, digital and customized radio, and licenses for music on Facebook and digital fitness apps, grew 26% to $5.9 billion in the first half of 2021. Streaming accounted for 84% of total revenues for the period, about the same level as for 1H 2020. The data shows just how deeply Americans continue to value and engage with recorded music - listening to more than 840 BILLION on-demand streams in the first half of the year.

Streaming has changed the radio listening habits
And yet, there’s been a 40% drop in the number of people turning to the radio to discover new music.  Radio has always been an important marketing channel for music. So why is its role in discovery dropping so much?  It’s partly a cyclical decline. Fewer people were listening to the radio in the late 90s, and fewer still are now.  However, it’s also more likely that radio has been overtaken by streaming. Why?  By making streaming easier than ever to find music, discovery is no longer dependent on the radio. Instead, it’s part of the music itself.  Radio and music should be a perfect match!

How Americans are discovering new music
The musicFirst Coalition, which is supporting the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), commissioned a poll examining the listening habits of Americans.

The coalitions’ objective is to get artists paid when their music is played on the radio. The musicFirst Coalition says, ‘For decades, dominant corporate broadcasters like iHeartRadio and Cumulus Media have refused to pay artists despite raking in billions of dollars in advertising revenue every year’.

One very interesting fact of the poll is that Most Americans are turning to streaming services and digital platforms to discover new music and artists, contradicting the myth that Americans still discover new music through the radio, which was the case in the 1960s.

musicFirst Coalition Poll

The report concludes, ‘These days, songs and artists are much more likely to go viral on platforms like TikTok or get featured on a popular Spotify playlist, which helps them shoot to the top of the charts. In turn, these same songs are then played on the radio. These are 2021’s order of operations, not vice versa.’

As always - no music no life! Thomas

Thomas is a Co-founder of Traxfly