research

Americans still want their computers, even over smartphones and TV, says CC study

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 12:45pm

New research from Vision Critical for Clear Channel suggests that while Americans love and use their smartphones more and more, we haven't yet let go of computers. Respondents to the study indicated they'd rather keep their computer and give up their TV, smartphone, and tablet if they could only use one device for a year.

Perhaps also surprising was the finding that women are actually more likely than men to own smartphones and tablets: 52% of women have smartphones compared to just 43% of men, while 31% of women have a tablet or e-reader versus 25% of men.

The study also found that over 70% of those who stream live radio on their smartphones have streamed a live radio station from a different locale than where they live. 59% of respondents have been online while listening to music, and even 25% of respondents watch TV and listen to music at the same time. Finally, 59% say they use music rather than TV (39%) when they are "looking to change their mood."

The online survey was conducted by Vision Critical May 17-18, 2013 among 1,008 Americans ages 18 and over, in association with Clear Channel Media & Entertainment.

RAIN Summit West recap: NPD Group research

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 11:55am

NPD Group SVP/Industry Analysis Russ Crupnick sees the music industry headed towards another cliff -- and thinks streaming audio and capturing the favor of the 100 million "casual music fans" may be the keys to averting it. Crupnick presented recent research findings at RAIN Summit West last month in Las Vegas. 

"We desperately need streaming radio to succeed," Crupnick told attendees. "We need to get the lawyers, guns, and money out of the way, and start having a better understanding of how to get consumers on to the next model."

Back in the '90s, 90% of adult Americans regularly bought CDs. NPD research shows it's now 35%, and that's not being replaced by paid downloads. Just about 23% of people have purchased a music download in the last year, which means 3 of 4 haven't! And, as much as CD purchasing has dwindled, it's still more prevalent than downloading! And the amount of time people spend listening to these legacy formats (CDs, MP3 files, and even radio a bit) is down too.

Here's the bright spot: online radio usage is up 6% among young people (see the chart) -- and up 23% among baby boomers -- in the past year. Online radio is even the "way number-one" reason people are quitting P2P downloading: "It's just so much easier to use a streaming service," Crupnick paraphrased.

And, Crupnick adds, "these are really valuable customers" to the music industry. While the average American spends $24 on music in a year, Pandora listeners spend $40, and Spotify users $52. Streaming audio listeners also strongly out-index average Americans buying concert tickets.

But the real opportunity for streaming radio to succeed, and the music industry to avoid another cliff, Crupnick argues, is not going after the "core" music fans (the 30% of the population that accounts for 80% of the money spent on music). Radio and streaming services are already "serving them really well." The opportunity lies with attracting the other 70% of people -- the "casual" music fan.

Consider: Nearly all "core" music fans listen to AM/FM, and 77% listen to non-subscription online radio, according to NPD figures. And while a good majority of casual fans also listen to music on AM/FM (74%), just 25% listen to free online radio. That's the 100 million people market opportunity. That's the potential audience gain for Internet radio, if it can reach beyond the hard core music fans and get to everyone else who listens to AM/FM.

And to do that, Crupnick advises, it's necessary to understand the mentality of that casual listener. He stresses that the research shows these people aren't at all focused on those things broadcasters and webcasters obssess over. NPD found, as he put it, "98% of people don't know what 'an Rdio' or MOG is!" Most casual listeners don't really have any interest at all in mobile apps (though he suggested an Apple streaming radio entrance might change the game).

The lack of interest in mobile apps notwithstanding, Crupnick says "this battle is going to be won in the car," as that's where the vast majority of casual music fans' listening takes place.

And casual listeners aren't interested in subscribing for music either. "We've gotta figure out a way to help these services thrive outside of subscription," he concluded. "We can work together, labels, artists, services, to grow the pie."

RAIN Summit West was April 7 in Las Vegas. You can listen to audio from Crupnick's presentation, and all the RAIN Summit West content, on our website. Look for the SoundCloud links in the right-hand margin of kurthanson.com.

Our next event is RAIN Summit Europe, May 23 at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels. Limited space is still available. Information and registration links are available on the RAIN Summit Europe website here.

Digital closing gap on radio as "leading source of music" for adults, says Vision Critical

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 12:15pm

New research from Vision Critical shows what most North American adults use AM/FM radio as their leading music source, but that digital options are quickly decreasing radio's lead.

While two-thirds of American and Canadian adults listen to broadcast radio (either via AM/FM or streamed online) every week, leading online sources like YouTube, Pandora, and Spotify "have gained a strong foothold." This is especially true in the U.S., as Pandora and Spotify are not officially available to Canadians.

More than 1 in 4 American adults regularly listen to music online, according to Vision Critical, while only about 1 in 5 Canadians do.

Vision Critical's study was released in conjunction with Canadian Music Week happening now in Toronto.

Despite buzz around streaming video, streaming audio reaches far and away more Americans weekly

Monday, February 11, 2013 - 12:15pm

While streaming video content is a hot topic, its reach among all adult age groups in the U.S. is dwarfed by streaming audio and radio content.

As you can see from the chart, 40% of 18-24s listen to streaming audio or radio weekly. That reach falls as subjects age, but is still a strong 1 in 4 35-54s.

Obviously, streaming audio is technically easier (with a lower bandwidth requirement). It's easier to enjoy audio on mobile platforms and while driving. And as MediaPost points out, "Radio and any other kind of streaming can be done on the computer while working on the same device -- whether for the purpose of providing background music, sports commentary or other forms of talk-based content."

Consultant Mark Ramsey commented, "For anyone who continues to chirp that 'Pandora is not radio,' I suggest you tell that to the advertiser who sees up to 40% reach on an ad-supported audio platform."

The study was conducted by USA TouchPoints. Read more in MediaPost here and Mark Ramsey here.

Survey indicates Pandora listening not taking away from time with AM/FM

Friday, November 30, 2012 - 1:00pm

Vision Critical's new research indicates Pandora listeners spend more time listening to broadcast radio than non-Pandora listeners. What's more, on average, Pandora listeners' say their time spent with AM/FM radio has held steady over the last two years.

The charts from the research summary show that while non-Pandora users in the U.S. report spending just under 13 hours a week listening to broadcast, the average Pandora user tops 19 hours a week with terrestrial radio -- 50% more than the non-Pandora fan. The second chart shows that even over time, the average Pandora user reports spending slightly more time with AM/FM now than 2 years ago (or at least, is not spending significantly less time with AM/FM).

It's probably not controversial to say the typical Pandora listener is more comfortable with technology than the average person. So, perhaps it's not surprising the survey revealed Pandora listeners as much more likely to listen to AM/FM on digital devices than non-Pandora listeners.

A recent NPD Group study (here) seemed to show Net radio usage is cutting into music listening on more traditional media -- including AM/FM. Note that the Vision Critical study didn't ask about the format of respondents' on-air listening (music, news, talk, sports, etc.).

Pandora listeners in another recent survey (conducted on the webcaster's behalf) strongly favored the service over AM/FM regarding which was more "unique and different," "innovative," "engaging," and "connects me withe the music I love" (study here). But Pandora listeners told Vision Critical AM/FM has the edge in "easy," "convenient," and "helps me feel connected."

Vancouver-based Vision Critical surveyed more than one-thousand U.S. adults for the Canadian Association of Radio Broadcasters, "to better understand the potential impact on Canadian radio tuning in the event that Pandora, or a service like it, is launched in Canada."

See the Vision Critical summary report, "What Pandora Means for Radio," here.

RAIN Analysis: Naturally, we wanted to follow up on this with Vision Critical SVP Jeff Vidler. After all, the results of this study seem counterintuitive in light of Arbitron reports showing radio listening per capita declining -- declines that seem to correspond Pandora's gains.

Vidler suggested three hypotheses:

1. Interest in music is not a "zero sum" game. Flash back 100+ years ago and the consensus was that recorded music would kill live music performance. Then, radio was going to kill the recorded music industry. Then, in-car 8-tracks/cassettes/CDs were going to kill radio. But today, music is bigger than ever. Each new technology and platform simply provides a new way and a new reason for music fans to indulge in music — it’s additive. So it would seem to be for Pandora.

2. The enduring lure of broadcast radio is connection, not music. Pandora listeners, like most other folks, want to feel connected to other people, to what’s going on in their community and elsewhere. Broadcast radio does a great job at that. And, as music fans, they also want to feel connected to the music that other people like. Broadcast radio performs well there too. (The recent success of CHR radio may be the best evidence of this.) So, on this basis, it’s not that surprising that they might be above-average listeners to broadcast radio.

3. Arbitron isn’t capturing the full gamut of online AM/FM tuning. Do PPM meter-keepers, who listen through their headphones on their PC at work, or on the app on their smartphone, always remember to plug in their headphone insert? The study indicates that Pandora listeners are way above-average in listening to AM/FM on digital platforms, so it’s possible that Arbitron may not be capturing all their listening."

All three hypotheses make sense. The third is particularly interesting -- maybe apparent losses in per-capita AM/FM listening in recent years are really just an artifact of increases in headphone-based listening! -- KH

TargetSpot releases study on listeners' attitudes towards digital audio ads

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 12:55pm

TargetSpot says its new study shows Internet radio listeners "are more tolerant of digital audio ads than broadcast AM/FM audiences." Parks Associates conducted the study, "Attitudes Towards Digital Audio Advertising," for TargetSpot (which is a digital audio ad network). You can download a summary of the study here.

The study found even when it came to ads that Internet radio listeners didn't find interesting or important, "they are more accepting of them and less likely to stop listening than are listeners to traditional Broadcast AM/FM Radio." TargetSpot also says its study shows most Net radio "listeners don’t mind ads if they perceive they will receive something of interest in return," mobile listeners are "amenable to receiving ads," and they're mostly fine with targeted advertising.

The study summary is here.

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