Radio still main music driver


Despite the growing array of other sources, a survey of online music users by JupiterResearch finds that radio is still the “most powerful means of music discovery.” Even among the 8% classified as trend setters because of their influence over other music users, radio, at 59%, is second only to recommendations from friends, 62%, in introducing them to new music.

“For the general population as well as music influencers, you can see that radio is the most important way of discovering new music – and it has been the most important way of discovering new music in the last few years that we’ve surveyed,” said analyst Sonal Gandhi at JupiterResearch.

For all of the groups in the JupiterResearch/Ipsos Insight Music Consumer Survey of 2,134 online music users, radio was the #1 method of discovering new music. And it was pretty uniform, from a high of 65% for paying downloaders to a low of 62% for music aficionados – and 63% for all those surveyed.

JupiterResearch has been surveying online music users for a number of years. The new report, “Music Influencers: Marketing to an Audience of Trend Setters” focuses on identifying the traits of the small percentage of music users who influence music trends by recommending new music to others.

“Radio remains the most powerful means of music discovery. However, word of mouth plays a much more important role for music fans who use music digitally than it does for overall online consumers, or even for high spenders who do not use digital music. Digital music marketers and programmers should zero in on music influencers,” Gandhi wrote in her report. 49% of music aficionados said they discovered new music through recommendations from friends, while the figure was only 26% overall.

What about those “music influencers” that the research focused on? Gandhi told RBR/TVBR they were self-identified in the survey as saying “friends come to me to find out about new and cool music.” You might expect a higher number, but only 8% of the people surveyed made that claim. They’re very music focused, are interested in multiple genres and spend a median of $200 annually to buy music, double the norm. And while they are most likely to be influenced by the opinions of friends – that 62% figure mentioned previously – 59% said they listen to radio to find new music.

Those radio figures, by the way, refer only to broadcast radio. Online radio is “not very big yet,” Gandhi said. Only 9% of all respondents said they discover new music from online radio. The report also contains data for music discovery at retail stores, music videos on TV and on TV shows.

RBR/TVBR observation: If the Capitol Hill lobbyists at NAB weren’t already aware of this report, you can bet that they will be buying copies to show to Members of Congress and their staffers. RIAA is actively trying to downplay the role of radio in selling its members’ wares. After all, aren’t the members of the online generation so wedded to their iPods that they “never” listen to radio? But this research shows that even online consumers of music are more influenced by radio airplay than anything else in finding new music to listen to and buy.