Audio Activation In 2023? Here’s A WSJ-Backed Outlook


The Activate Consulting Technology & Media Outlook 2023 report, with support from WSJ Tech Live, is out. And, it includes a section devoted to Audio, as well as Video.

For the latter subject, TikTok “will be one of the most disruptive forces, not only in video but also in messaging, search, and eCommerce.” In fact, Activate predicts consumer time in streaming and social video will surpass that of television.

As the streaming wars will intensify, what’s in store for Radio?


Digital audio will drive more consumer time and spend, Activate forecasts.

But, here’s the big, perhaps startling takeaway for AM and FM radio station owners: Consumer audio time will continue to increase and shift to digital; by 2026, 63% of audio time will be digital, up from 51% in 2019.

The impact on Radio, which Activate notes excludes digital radio in its study, could be transformative. Core behaviors driving increased time spent with digital audio, comprised of audio streamed via mobile and desktop/laptop, show that 88% of music listeners aged 18 and older use a free or subscription-based music service at least once per month. While that may seem fleeting to some in the radio industry, 64% of these 18+ music listeners use multiple music services at least once per month.

Then, there’s this sobering statistic: music listeners are now more likely to use a smartphone or tablet to listen to music than any other device.

Meanwhile, Activate finds that “significant growth in the global music industry will continue in the coming years,” reaching $94 billion in revenue by 2026. But, this is driven almost
entirely by digital audio.


To gain a greater perspective on where common apps that feature live radio streaming stand versus the digital giants among U.S. consumers, Activate surveyed those 18+ consumers who use a free or paid music service at least once per month.

YouTube dominates, followed by Spotify and, interestingly, Amazon Music.

Meanwhile, Pandora still has its audience, even as it is now largely focused on in-store audio services.

SiriusXM is at 21%, with higher penetration than Apple Music.

At 15% is iHeartRadio. The good news: Audacy is at 6%, while TuneIn lags at 5% despite the year-long marketing and PR blitz engaged by the global audio streaming platform.

Activate did not ask its respondents about radio consumption across its 181-page report. But, it did ask about TikTok, the contemporary hit music influencer. For instance, TALK’s “Run Away To Mars,” released in June 2021, is presently enjoying strong Adult Alternative and Alternative airplay thanks to its TikTok popularity.

Indeed, it is a key source of new music discovery among Activate respondents, with 54% of TikTok users saying they heard a new song on social media and sought it out on a music streaming service.




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