Edison Research

Edison Research partners with Triton Digital for The Infinite Dial 2014

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 12:40pm

Edison Research and Triton Digital today announced a partnership to produce The Infinite Dial 2014, the 16th year of that influential study. The report’s findings will be presented at RAIN Summit West on April 6 in Las Vegas, as they have been in previous years. (See RAIN’s coverage of The Infinite Dial here.)

The Infinite Dial is a widely-cited study of digital media usage. In past years the report has touched on how consumers use AM/FM, online radio, smartphones, and tablets. The 2014 study promises new information about mobile consumption, and iTunes Radio. According to the press release, “The study will also continue its coverage of podcasting, social media, and other consumer behaviors related to audio and video consumption.” 

The Infinite Dial report has been produced 21 times over 16 years. One of its most valuable aspects is the trended data on media usage. Previous studies have been produced in partnership with Arbitron, which was acquired earlier this year by Nielsen, and rebranded as Nielsen Audio. The Triton relationship replaces the Arbitron partnership.

RAIN Weekend Perspective: Week of Oct. 28 - Nov. 1

Friday, November 1, 2013 - 4:30pm

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective summarizes the week’s important events for a weekend catch-up, and revives your blasted synapses for coming week.

PARTNERSHIPS 

The Echo Nest partners with Getty Images: Music services that use The Echo Nest’s intelligence technology will be able to enhance their album art with artist and band photos. [READ]

Spotify partners with Tango Messenger: The alliance lets Tango instant message users to include 30-second Spotify music clips. You might not be familiar with Tango, but it’s a bigger service than Spotify. [READ

MUSIC SERVICES & APPS 

TuneIn reaches 100,000 radio stations: The TuneIn aggregation platform has aggregated up a storm: “The most radio stations ever in one place,” according to the press release. [READ]

Rhapsody introduces new features: RAIN reviews important additions to the Rhapsody music experience. [READ

SoundCloud reaches 250-million listeners: Take that, Pandora, as SoundCloud’s new emphasis on uninterrupted listening is bringing in new users. SoundCloud is now chasing YouTube’s 1-billion users. [READ

Pandora releases Android tablet app: RAIN reviews the essential features that exist in the new version across all devices. [READ

iHeartRadio updates features: The Clear Channel-owned platform gets into concierge-style programming, similar to Songza and Slacker, but with tongue in cheek. [READ

ILLUMINATION 

Edison Research videos show a “barrage of new” in connected cars: Seeking insight to how new-car owners are coping with modern infotainment systems built into digital dashboards, Edison Research produced video interviews with recent car buyers. RAIN interviewed president Larry Rosin. [READ]

Survey/Interview - iTunes Radio little threat to Pandora: Investment firm Canaccord Genuity surveyed Pandora users who have tried iTunes Radio, to get a picture of its existential threat to Pandora. RAIN interviewed the study’s author. [READ]

BIZ / LEGAL 

Swedish musicians threaten to sue labels over Spotify distribution: The musicians' argument is less with Spotify than with labels, and how Spotify revenue is shared with artists by those labels. RAIN untangles it. [READ]

New Edison Research videos show a “barrage of new” in connected cars

Monday, October 28, 2013 - 11:55am

Seeking insight to how new-car owners are coping with modern infotainment systems built into digital dashboards, Edison Research has produced video interviews with recent buyers. (Watch the videos here.) Unlike the eye-opening videos of prospective buyers trying to turn on the radio for the first time, shown at the Radio Show in Orlando, the subjects of Edison’s videos have had some number of months to learn and adapt to expanded listening choices in the car.

We spoke to Larry Rosin, President of Edison Research, to ask about key takeaways.

RAIN: You spoke with new-car owners who have been dealing with sophisticated dashboards for several months. What did you learn?

LR: The average car on the road is 11 or 12 years old; most of these people had traded in 10- or 11-year-old cars. So they’re excited by the prospect of a new car, and by the systems that are baked into these cars. They’ve gone from the alpha to the omega of the [dashboard] experience. They get hit with what I call a "barrage of new.” Lots of new things. In every one of these cases, on top of these dash systems -- connection with their phones, or embedded 4G -- they get a free trial subscription to SiriusXM. Lots of new things are coming through to them. We see in the videos very significant changes in behavior.

For broadcast radio, those guys are fighting the “barrage of new.’” And I don’t think we think enough in the broadcast radio industry about “new.” We seldom launch new shows, we seldom launch new formats, we seldom come out with new initiatives. In many ways we’ve come to represent the opposite of New. I think that’s a dangerous prospect.

RAIN: To what extent do you think the Barrage of New will stick with new-car buyers? For example, how long had these people owned their new cars, and were they still in the trial satellite subscriptions?

LR: In some cases the trials had lapsed, and some of them had not renewed. We asked people to project into the future, and of course that’s hard for people to do. But I think these people are forever changed in their behaviors. They all came from cars where AM/FM was the only [listening] option, except for CDs -- and in one case, cassettes. [Now they’re in a world where] their phone, their iPod, their own music was readily available in the car, and streamed music was easy to access also. They’re taking advantage of that. In the videos they seem excited about what they can do.

If you watch the videos, [the subjects] still do turn to radio. Every respondent said they do turn to radio for unique, compelling content they cannot get from streaming audio or satellite radio. News reports, traffic reports, weather, personalities, sports, public radio.

RAIN: Do you think that encourages radio as an industry to double down on its legacy values of news, traffic, and weather -- as opposed to developing new content?

LR: No. Not at all. Of course we should stress things like news, traffic, weather, and personalities. But I think it compels radio to say “What other content beyond all that can be unique and compelling in a much more competitive environment?”

RAIN: One of your subjects made a remark that must feel like hitting a wall for radio professionals who see these videos. The subject said, “I don’t listen to radio anymore because I don’t have to.”

LR: Yes, but I wonder whether that is over-interpreted. Clearly it came down hard, but I’m not sure that woman meant it with nasty connotations. She had a ten-year-old car, where radio was the only option. She was merely pointing out that she went from a world of one option to a world of many options.

RAIN: Even though the new dashboards are difficult for your subjects to learn and master, it appeared there was no desire for a return to simpler controls.

LR: There was definitely an adjustment period. Nobody said they wanted to go back.

RAIN: Your videos, and others, seem to illustrate that voice control really doesn’t work yet. Perhaps it will be an important factor in safe connected cars, but presently isn’t effective. Do you agree?

LR: I have no doubt it’s gotten better, but the people in these videos who have it, are really struggling with it. I can also say this: Not having had the benefit of time that these people have (and they’re still struggling with it), I’ve been in cars where I’ve tried to synch my phone to the car, and I simply could not do it. I took out the manual and gave it a serious effort. I simply could not do it. As of today [phone pairing] is just terrible.

RAIN: Have you gotten a sense from the radio people what their emotional reaction is to these videos? Is there denial?

LR: In all honesty, I think the denial period is rapidly coming to an end. It’s not that long ago, when there was a Code of Omerta in the radio industry, where if you point out a problem, you are the problem. If you look at the tone of the Radio Show in Orlando, and the tone of DASH in Detroit, and the general tone, the era in which denial is the only acceptable approach is over, or ending quickly. An attitude is emerging in which it’s a competitive world and we have to compete smart and compete strong. A healthier attitude is emerging.

INTERVIEW: Larry Rosin, President of Edison Research

Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 11:55am

Larry Rosin authored a new Edison Research package titled “The New MainStream,” a study of Internet radio listening. (See the slides here, and RAIN's initial coverage here.) The survey was presented at this week’s Advertising Week conference in New York, in collaboration with the Streaming Audio Task Force.

RAIN spoke with Larry Rosin about the study’s genesis and reception, the impact of Internet radio on AM/FM listening, the variety of user preferences, and, unexpectedly, 1970s research that led to the introduction of cable television in the U.K.

Here are excerpts of the conversation, lightly edited for readability.

RAIN: Can you describe the history of this study?

LR: I was contacted by the three companies on the Streaming Audio Task Force, looking for a data set dedicated to the topic of streaming audio, to create a benchmark for where things stand among the online population of the U.S. Ideally it will be repeated annually, to track the dynamic aspects of this space.

RAIN: How was it received at its introduction at Advertising Week in New York? Was there was good engagement?

LR: Very much so. Questions during and afterwards. I thought it went over really well. I think it was a logical story that hit people’s guts, made sense, and was a positive and upbeat story. I emphasized that audio is a booming category. I don’t think it had ever been put the way I put it, perhaps as forcefully. People seemed to be very open to that point of view.

RAIN: Did you discern any surprise around the 53-percent metric? [53 percent of online Americans listen to Internet radio.]

LR: Not really. I didn’t meet any resistance, and it didn’t seem to register as much higher than the audience thought it would be. I didn’t do the game-show technique of asking people to guess what the number might be.

RAIN: One key point is the amount of displacement of broadcast listening that it might represent, and the amount of listening that has been added to the day, thanks to mobile devices.

LR: There are certain people who would have you believe that not one second of online usage comes from time that was previously spent on broadcast radio. And there are people who assume that 100% of internet radio time comes straight out of broadcast radio. Of course, both are wrong. It turns out, both about equally wrong. I think it’s important to note that our study confirms what Arbitron reports about the reach of broadcast. We got virtually the exact same number that Arbitron reports for the reach of broadcast radio. But online radio has a considerable reach as well. And while the total time spent listening to broadcast radio is clearly down somewhat, not anywhere close to all the time [spent on] internet radio comes straight from AM/FM radio.

The overwhelming point is: this technology has brought audio to new places, new locations, and new times in people’s lives that they weren’t previously filling in with audio. This is a golden age of audio. If all audio were counted, people would see that never before -- probably even going back to the twenties and thirties when radio had no competition -- there is more audio listening going on today than ever before.

RAIN: Would you say there are two viewpoints, and two marketing approaches: One is reach, and the other is time spent? Things look different depending on which vantage you’re using.

LR: Correct. But it’s not a wholesale transference. The pie has absolutely expanded. I truly believe that advertisers should be shifting more money into the audio space. Then let the players in the audio space hash it out in that greater pool of money. The line which has been used for years, that the amount of time people spend with audio relative to the amount of revenue audio gets, is dead on. In fact, that discrepancy is probably worse than ever, as audio continues to expand. I am proud to be an evangelist for advertisers taking money from other verticals and putting more of it into the audio space.

RAIN: It seems that choice is a thread that runs through many of the survey responses. Choice of stations, choice of tracks, etc. Are choice and customization the main differentiators of Internet radio?

LR: They are slightly different things, but yes. They are two of the things that really matter to people. But there are other [reasons to choose Internet radio] that people might find surprising. A lot of people mentioned better sound quality, or reception, if you will. A lot of people are transferring listening to their favorite over-the-air radio station to I.P. because they can hear it better. In this day and age, with a lot of RF in office buildings, a lot of interference, for many people the Internet is a better way to listen.

Another reason [survey respondents choose Internet radio], in services like Pandora and Spotify, is the ability to skip songs, [which is] a powerful differentiator of their experience. It repositions the experience of linear listening. It changes the way you relate to what you’re listening to. It’s not unlike a DVR. If you’re accustomed to pausing live TV, and then you’re in a hotel room and you lose that capability, it can be frustrating to shift back. It’s a similar situation [in radio listening]; it’s hard to shift back.

RAIN: What you’re saying is parallel to how media consumption has been developing for years, getting more granular in the choices offered to consumers.

LR: I’ll tell you an anecdote. In the late-1970s or early-1980s, a research company did a study in the U.K. about television, and whether there would be a market for cable television in the U.K. At that time television sets in Great Britain had four buttons on them. There were four television stations. That’s how you watched it. They did a survey. People’s overwhelming response was, “What more could we possibly want? We’ve got FOUR choices at any given time!” People’s imaginations couldn’t conceive of wanting more than four channels. Undaunted by this research, and seeing what was going on in the U.S., they launched cable television in the U.K. Suddenly, people were like, “Oh, wait a second here. There’s a 24-hour news channel?”

Very few people are against more choice. [But] there is a paradox of choice. Too many choices [can be] stressful and overwhelming. Seems like, in media, very few people feel that way.

RAIN: TV in America used to be four channels: ABC, CBS, NBC, and public television.

LR: Oh yeah.

RAIN: There are different postures of Internet listening: lean forward, lean back, and various postures in between. Your data seem to show that an in-between attitude -- for example, leaning forward to create an artist-based station, then leaning back to listen -- has the highest usage metric. Is that correct?

LR: Right. But there’s a lot that goes into that. Certain platforms and products have had a nice running start, and have developed that. It’s fascinating to track. Your thesis could very well be correct. Or, it could just be a moment in time, and those numbers might change.

Edison Research: Streaming hits the MainStream

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 11:40am

Edison Research has released a new study of streaming audio adoption, indicating that over half of the American online population listens to Internet radio. The research package, titled “The New MainStream” (get it?) details survey results of 3,014 connected Americans over 11 years old. The report was formally introduced yesterday at an Advertising Week panel in New York by Edison president Larry Rosin, in collaboration with Edison’s Streaming Audio Task Force partners Pandora (Steven Kritzman), Spotify (Brian Benedik), and TuneIn (Rick Cotton).

The headline stat is this: 53 percent of online Americans listen to Internet radio to some extent. By this study’s definition, “Internet radio” comprises the full spectrum of online listening, divided into three categories:

  • Personalized Radio: Services like Pandora or iTunes Radio which allow creation of personal “stations” based on an artist or song. (39 percent adoption.)
  • Streaming Live: Online webcasts of broadcast stations, not necessarily local to the listener. (27 percent adoption.)
  • On-Demand Music: Services like Spotify and Rhapsody which feature random access of tracks and albums. (18 percent adoption.)

Edison’s survey delineates and prioritizes why people are adopting Internet radio. Choice is the differentiating thread that runs through many responses. Consumer hunger for choice extends to track choice in on-demand services, and station choice in streaming broadcasts. Other responses, such as “Available on device” (44 percent agreement) and “More convenient than a regular radio,” (27 percent agreement) seem pointed at lifestyle customization.

Car and home remain staunch broadcast strongholds, according to Edison results. In both environments, Internet radio is meaningfully present, but running second. The disparity in cars (83% broadcast; 17% Internet) probably indicates the complexity and non-standardization which impede adoption of online audio -- a recurring theme in “connected car” sessions at last week’s RAIN Summit and Radio Show in Orlando. The delay in solving dashboard fragmentation gives broadcast radio a window of opportunity to develop distribution strategies on digital platforms.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the research is an implied expansion of listening hours as IP-delivered solutions insert themselves into formerly unoccupied contexts. From the press release: “The total time spent with audio is clearly expanding as people are now enjoying more audio from more devices in more places.” To whatever extent this premise proves out, it could provide a salve to AM/FM operators who feel threatened by the digital tidal wave.

Yet, the study’s main bullet points (see this infographic) do indicate that the shape of listening growth, and listening recession, imply upside for the Internet and downside for broadcast. Sixty-seven percent of respondents listen to more Internet radio than one year previous, but only 23 percent say the same about AM/FM. On the flip side, only six percent listen to less Internet, and three times that many listen to less AM/FM. (More than half of those surveyed listen to the same amount of broadcast radio year-over-year.)

The “listening expansion” theory is borne out by 26 percent of responses indicating that Internet radio listening transpires in “new time” previously spent without audio. Worth noting also, though, that 44 percent said that online audio replaced AM/FM listening to some extent. The upshot seems to include both realities: New listening time is being created, and some amount of AM/FM erosion is also happening.

Arbitron, Edison report "largest year-over-year jump" in weekly Net radio usage they've yet seen

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 11:40am

Two weeks ago Edison Research and Arbitron announced they'd found weekly Internet radio listening grew 30% during 2011 (see our coverage here), and that 29% of 12+ Americans (76 million) now listen to Internet radio weekly, for an average of almost ten hours a week. Yesterday the companies officially released the study from which that finding comes, "The Infinite Dial 2012: Navigating Digital Platforms."

"We’ve been tracking the usage of online radio in this series since 1998, and this year’s increase in weekly usage is the largest year-over-year jump we’ve ever recorded," said Bill Rose, Arbitron SVP/Marketing.  Edison Research VP/Strategy and Marketing Tom Webster added "The jump in weekly online radio usage is remarkable, but really a trailing variable to the rise in smartphone penetration, which has enabled much of that growth."

As always (this is the 20th edition of the study), the researchers looked at cellphone/smartphone penetration and use, other portable digital media devices, overall Internet usage, online video, and social media. 

A few points of interest to the Internet radio industry:

  • 39% of Americans 12+ (103 million) have listened to Internet radio in the last month.
  • 17% of cell phone owners report listening to Internet radio in their cars by connecting their phones to their car stereo, a 50% increase in the past year.
  • Smartphone ownership has tripled in the last two years. 44% of all 12+ Americans own a smartphone, which is half of all cell phone owners.
  • A third of at-work radio listening is done on a computer or mobile device. 12% of smartphone owners listen to online radio "several times per day" or more.
  • "Heavy" Internet and radio users are more likely to be employed full-time.

Read more from Edison Research and Arbitron here, and see all the research presentation slides here.

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