Johnny’s Long Car Journey Into how Teenagers are Consuming Their Music.

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October 22, 2014 by johnnyseifertradio

Today’s blog is all about how teenagers are consuming their music. However, I have ended up on my journey of discovery by doing an analysis of the RAJAR listener figuers and Absolute Radio’s Breakfast Show. The examples come today from BBC Radio1 and Free Radio as ever. Furthermore, I have ‘borrowed’ lots of quotes from various blogs across the Radio industry of which have all been linked so you can see how the real professionals analyse the arguments I have set out. So lets’ start by looking at RAJAR and how this links to the consumption of music.

As a radio geek tonight at 00.00 is an exciting time as the quarterly radio figures are announced for Q3 2014. RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) has noted since 1992 the listenership for each quarter of each 303 radio stations that have signed up  by asking radio listeners to note in their diary what they have been listening too. For Q3 specifically RAJAR will be analysing the radio listening habits from between the 23rd June 2014- 14th September 2014. A RAJAR report is a diary that is given out across the UK. The people are chosen at random within carefully selected areas to ensure that the survey is completely representative in terms of the type of people who participate and the areas where they live. RAJAR recruit the sample that is reflective of the area, in terms of age, sex, ethnicity and social grade and what radio stations are available in their areas. Matt Deegan at Folded Media notes in his blog that “we measure where people listen and how they listen; we’ve able to understand much more about the changing behaviour of the listener”. Then some brain box has made a formula on Microsoft Excel to give an average for the country.  Thank you to Lyndsay Ferrigan at RAJAR for providing me with the information about RAJAR and the old style RAJAR diary as seen below.


To give this context to non radio geeks, in Q2 of 2014, BBC Radio 1 had 10.8 Million listeners compared to 15.5 million listeners at their father radio station BBC Radio2. However, what needs to be noticed here is that BBC Radio 1 caters for 15-29 year olds (fourteen years worth) in comparison to BBC Radio 2 which caters for 44 year olds plus (around sixty years worth). So already, to the general public RAJAR does not really matter and should not affect the radio stations that we choose to listen too. In contrast, a TV channel that is not getting enough viewers according to BARB (Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board) a TV channel can cease such as Men & Motors (1996-2010). For radio stations, it is important to tabularise their performance and see where they are going right or wrong to keep their radio licenses that are handed out. For example, by BBC Radio1 introducing Jameela Jamill to the Chart Show in 2013 as a female presenter taking over from Reggie Yates, it increased the shows figures by 200,000 listeners. RAJAR is useful as it measures radio stations listenership. But, we must further consider the shift in how teenagers are consuming their music not just from the radio but from other sources.

Mark Ramsey a radio consultant in California has designed this pie chart to show how in America, teenagers are consuming their music of which I want to analyse today through the different options that Mark has outlined before looking at other sources from his blog.

piperjaffrayIpods– 42% of teenage consumers are consuming their music from MP3 players. I would argue that this is because the consumer is in charge of choosing the artist and genres that they listen to. For example, when I am driving around at the moment I love to put on Sam Smith’s ‘In the Lonely Hour’ or Ed Sheeran ‘X’ albums to sing along to. Secondly, a stigma has developed towards radio stations such as Global Radio owned Capital Fm and Heart Fm that the playlists are limited and repetitive. However, I would argue that whilst this maybe the case, how are consumers finding out about new music from existing or new artists without doing thorough research?

Pandora and Spotify apps– 32% of teenagers are consuming their music from Pandora or from radio sources such as Spotify and 8 Tracks. Pandora is an internet radio station streamed in the USA and New Zealand that plays music based on chosen genres, rhythms and tones. As I am in the UK I cannot access this. However, there is app that was heavily used in 2013 called ‘8 Tracks’ available on IOS that allowed you to create a playlist similar to Pandora’s concept. For example, you could choose if it is music to study to, to work out to or to get romantic with.


Those eager eyed would have noticed that I have just mentioned that it was heavily used in 2013 but not in 2014, but why is this the case? I would argue that the novelty of this app simply wore off. It is interesting to note that as consumers we are always looking for the next big thing whether it would be jumping ship from MySpace to Facebook or from the Blackberry to the Iphone. Yet, the novelty functions never last. Those with an Iphone reading this, how often do you use Siri or Facetime? Now how much you use the traditional uses of a smart phone such as making phone calls and texting? Therefore, I want to ask is Pandora actually sustainable in looking at the future of the radio platform as a traditional medium?

I had a conversation earlier this week with Darren Henley, MD of Classic FM who told me how it is important to get children interested in classical music from a young age so that they can return to the music genre later on in life. Similarly, radio as a broadcast medium has outlived the change in newspapers and television that is going online with still over 90% of adults listening to the radio each week. When I applied for an internship at Capital FM I was asked who their competitor is. I would argue that along with BBC Radio1 and Kiss Fm that actually radio stations such as BBC Radio 2 and Heart Fm are their competitors as these are the stations that their parents listen to that have helped influence their children’s choices. Therefore, surely Pandora is a phase that is short lived as users will return one day back to traditional broadcast medium?

Mark Ramsey, a media strategist from California, mentions in his blog:

Radio’s erosion is probably rooted in reality. But only to the degree that a teen-oriented radio station is a music service and nothing else. If you are only and always about music – expect to extract a diminishing amount of attention and consumption from teens”.. 

I want to analyse his wording by looking as I always do at the power of the radio medium to the listener. I was listening to Christian O’Connell on the Absolute Radio Breakfast Show this morning. Absolute Radio recently launched ‘Project Banana’ whereby Absolute Radio’s Breakfast show is networked across its seven decade radio stations with the music being specific to each radio station. On paper this is fantastic, as a listener I get to hear Christian’s great humour and stories whilst being able to choose the music from the decade that I love.

However, as my friend Tom Campbell, drive-time Heart FM Gloucestershire notes on his blog:

“Presenters can no longer show passion for the music he plays because, well, a portion of the audience may be listening to something completely different”.

I love the radio presenter introducing the songs as it makes it personal to them and I trust the reason that they are playing the song even if it has been playlisted and they have to. For example, Free Radio in Birmingham as David Lloyd has termed “plays a bit of the new and a bit of the old”. I love hearing how radio presenters such as Adam Willbourn and Andy Goulding have grown up with certain tracks and are introducing me to a new song with a context given. Furthermore, if again we take BBC Radio1 as an example, they have a remit by the BBC Trust to ‘inform, educate and entertain’. BBC Radio1 has two hours of education a week without you actually realising. On Tuesday nights at 21:00 they air a one hour documentary on an issue such as eating disorders and abuse. On Wednesday nights at 21:00 they air The Surgery where listeners can call in with their problems such as relationships. Both shows feature a concept of the listener talking directly to the radio presenter who they trust.

You are not going to have Itunes, Spotify, Pandora listening to your problems…

Long Live Radio and good luck tonight radio stations for your RAJAR results!

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