Radio Lives, But Why?

One of the big surprises to me of the last 10 years or so has been the persistent power FM radio has maintained, now two decades into the web revolution, and a decade and a half after Napster. Here’s a chart of where the “most committed” (e.g. high spending music lovers) learn about new music:

From November 13, 2011

There’s a bunch of industry decisions that have made music less shareable, certainly, and that has changed what might have been. And a lot of this deals with the fact that much of our dedicated music listening time is on commutes.

But I think it’s worth asking if that is the whole story, or if at least some of this effect is due to the shared “eventness” of radio.

Pandora and other services end up feeling detached and solitary, even with all their sharing options. There is still no experience like the synchronous radio experience to scream community, and to make you want to buy into a hit. When you connect to radio, you are connecting to a movement, a cohort, a group of people connected to one another not just by a song, but actually connected in time, sharing the same experience in the same little moment of history. And that group identity makes the music more meaningful.

Just a thought, perhaps wrong. (I talked about this in an earlier piece, called Rise of the Cohort several years ago).

Perhaps Jim will want to comment?