Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Music streaming and traditional radio: Is there room for everyone?

Jonathan Blum

Streaming music is another media business pillar that adds to the digital and content revolution in the XXI century.  Apps like Spotify and Deezer paved their way into the Internet to compete directly with traditional broadcasters.  These giants, which initially began as start-ups, definitely changed the habit of listening to music, by allowing the enjoyment of full or single long plays through the smartphone or other device.  This behavior is commonplace now: everyday we see people with headphones humming melodies of the Rolling Stones, Coldplay or Juan Luis Guerra at elevators, offices or airplanes.

From this consumer behavior, two questions arise:  what are the benefits of this new way of listening to music?  Have the new habits relegated traditional radio to the background?

First, it should be noted that these applications allow users to have direct contact with what they want to hear (they even predict the mood of the user based on their history), while broadcasters remain as relatively static media.  Unfortunately, radio has lost authority as the technological advances leave it behind in terms of audience, digitization and influence.

Spotify and Deezer, among others, are music entertainment options that please users with many of the preferences, not just musical but also informative.

The features of these apps allow:

  •   Listening to music off-line.
  •   Reproducing streaming in mobile devices, both mobile phones and tablets.
  •   The service may be used at no cost (not with all the benefits, but you can listen, without any payment, good quality music).
  •   A catalog with more than 30 million songs covering all periods and genres possibl
  •   Impeccable sound quality.
  •   Creation of reproduction lists that may be shared with contacts having the same application
  •   Classification by musical genres and moods of the users, based on their application history.

The applications offer versions for nearly all mobile operative systems: Android, iOS, Smart TV, Mac, web, PlayStation 3 and 4, among others

In conclusion: a feast for music lovers.

Moreover, Deezer has podcasts via Deezer Talk, where you can listen to stations like the BBC, political programs, sports, entertainment, among many others; giving users multiple options so they don’t have to use informative radio.

Furthermore, Spotify, as to exclusivity, owns the rights of Led Zeppelin, and of all the Metallica and Pink Floyd albums. This is, without a doubt, an added value for rock and metal lovers.

The radial ecosystem

Despite the overwhelming success of streaming music, radio is a medium with loyal audiences, and reacts in due time to the challenges posed by digitization and the hyper-connection phenomenon.   The effort of several business conglomerates and some information visionaries is plausible, given their migration to content that would not only allow to listen to music, thanks to the construction quality social stories, by effectively using reports and news stories.
An interesting example of the application of these best practices is the US National Public Radio (NPR), by implementing the StoryCorps and projects.

Since 2013, the purpose of Storycorps has been to preserve the oral tradition of the United States, by compiling more than 60,000 interviews with more than 100,000 participants. It is perhaps “the largest human voice collection ever”, according to this project’s web page.

StoryCorps site

Furthermore, the  project allows users to listen to long-term podcasts and compile relevant contents to socialize them with the audience. The editorial ream is comprised of various media professionals, greatly renowned in the United States, such as Buzzfeed, Longform Media, NPR, Panoply Media, among others.

Earbud screenshot

Another initiative that goes beyond traditional radio is Radio Ambulante: the Latin American radio journalism web that addresses in detail the social situations and phenomena derived from the public agenda in many countries in the region.  This initiative, promoted by the Peruvian Daniel Alarcón and the Colombian Carolina Guerrero, was awarded journalism prizes, such as the Gabriel García Márquez, after winning in the 2014 innovation category.

Radio Ambulante’s webstie

Although streaming music bills millions of dollars and has a huge community of users who validate the benefits of this technology every day, it is noticed that traditional radio resists ostracism and captures niche audiences through the adaptation of stories to digitization and the reinvention of journalistic genres.

These two trends cannot be compared the same way, because their audience niches are different.  However, communication ‘liberalization’ and opening allows to reach consensus, knowing that the communication innovation of any kind, whether applied to the TV or to streaming music, movies, or radio, calls for plurality and information diversity at all levels.