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Live radio vs. listen again

How can we understand the role played by different online streaming services? What are the big differences in listening behaviours between the young and old?


Judith Spilsbury, Head of Consumer Training at the RAB in the UK, presented findings of quantitative and qualitative research into audience’s listening behaviours. Collecting data by measuring RAJAR figures, and asking listeners to record their own listening habits, uncovered some interesting details. 


Spilsbury believes that we are now entering a whole new era of listening, and that although listening to live radio has remained relatively stable, we now rely much more on our personal, owned music collections. Audiences distinctly understand what ‘live radio’ is, but, as content, ‘on-demand’ differs between people. 


Due to availability, audiences listen to their own music, as it “fits in” with modern life - we have less time for conversation, and although technologically are better connected, emotionally audiences are distant. 


A key idea highlighted by Spilsbury was how audio helps to satisfy our need states; we control our listening due to what we need socially, personally, contextually - as well as for content. This is explained by audiences need for music and radio personalities to lift their mood. 


What was discovered, is that even with the wide choice of streaming services, audiences enjoy listening to a radio presenter. Radio helps broaden people’s horizons. It is clear that amongst an abundance of on-demand content, people want the curation and recommendation that live-radio has always effectively provided. 


In a solely commercial market, live-radio dominates “audio listening behaviours”, with 89% of people choosing the wireless over on-demand content. This is due to convenience, accessibility and to satisfy these “need states”. 


It was discovered that although on-demand content has a bright future, live-radio is still the dominant force.