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James Cridland’s International Radio Trends: Radio vs Spotify — some data

James Cridland, radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land.


Happy New Year, and apologies for the abrupt silence at the end of last year: this was due to ill-health (no, not that sort of ill-health), and I had to prioritise a little in terms of my workload. I hope you had a good holiday period, and are raring to go.

  • Above: Morgan Stanley released some data around Spotify use compared to AM/FM radio in the US. It’s really interesting; both showing how strong AM/FM radio still is, but also how much Spotify and other similar services are eating out of younger audiences. Arguably, if media senior management are 50+, they could be very out of touch with how people are consuming their product. (It should be noted that Morgan Stanley are a major shareholder of Spotify, so it’s in their interest to talk Spotify up).
  • The pandemic is on us again! Here’s how national radio broadcasting on the BBC now works – a great little video (I wonder how many takes it took for the timing to work out) walking from the kitchen to the studio. Sit up straight, Stuart, there’s a good lad. Meanwhile, here’s how TV reporting works – no bulky cameras or satellite dishes, but instead mobile phones (and decent lighting).
  • AM radio continues to decline in Europe, with Czech Radio being the latest broadcaster to cease transmissions on MW/LW at the end of the year. Auto manufacturers are beginning to remove AM radio from vehicles as a result; but it’s interesting seeing an Australian car website raising the alarm about missing AM in the car.
  • Radio is, according to the data, one of the most trusted media around; but the local radio DJ interview scam doesn’t much help. In this video, a YouTuber finds one of those pre-packaged “drop in your own questions” interview discs. And to think that I thought that “interviewing down the line” was a bit deceptive!
  • Website folks – this new podcast font, which also includes a little radio icon, I notice, might be helpful to you.
  • More than fifteen years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to give @mediauk.net email addresses to people, since they’d find it easier to hop between jobs if they had one, and it was some nice marketing for my website, which at that point was called Media UK. The .net domain name comes up for renewal every so often, and this time I thought I’d check to see if anyone was still using it, given I’ve not promoted it for at least 14 years. It turns out that they are: 18 people have logged-in over the past two weeks. Impressively old-school! (I’ve paid the $29 for the domain, you’re welcome.)
  • The ABC in Australia has Australian audiobooks in their “radio, music, podcasts” app, ABC Listen. What a clever idea; the BBC does have an ‘audiobooks’ category in BBC Sounds, but it’s not quite the same. And, imagine the public value tests!
  • Talking about the ABC, the British may know that there was some cricket played over the past month, sorry about the result. The broadcaster’s sports coverage has its own radio station, called ABC Grandstand until last year but quietly (and sensibly) renaming itself to ABC Sport. It’s on DAB+ and the ABC Listen app, and coverage is also taken on ABC Local Radio’s analogue services. They’ve posted some impressive online audience figures from the first Ashes test.
  • I had no idea that the Great British Bake Off isn’t called that in the US. Or why. Or how they cope, therefore, with the very conspicuous in-vision trophies. You’ll enjoy this video – performed in a really intriguing style from “Captain Disillusion”, and I’d encourage you to check out some of his other videos if you’re interested in visual trickery.
  • BBC television in the North West broke slightly the other day. This is a really interesting thread of what went wrong and what happened. It’s a brilliant post, since it doesn’t pretend to sugar-coat or patronise. More!
  • Andrew Rosindell, an embarrassing Conservative MP, wastes Parliamentary time by asking the Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, about how they can get the BBC to play the National Anthem at the end of broadcasting every night. Neither Rosindell nor Dorries appear to know that BBC Radio 4 does exactly that. BBC television doesn’t any more, since there’s no “end of broadcasting” on a 24-hour channel. I despair.
  • Full of in-jokes, YouTube japesters Larry and Paul post a Duolingo course to learn the language of radio.
  • Collectors of radio station beers can now try another one.
  • Literally a captive audience – a radio station for death-row prisoners in Texas. Interestingly, it’s available on AM (and audible outside the prison, if not very far). The station carries programming from NBC News, CBS Sports, religious output and comedy.
  • Global’s accounts were published up to Mar 2021. Matt Deegan digs a little, and discovers that radio revenue had dipped 13%, but outdoor revenue was down by 69%. Also notable: before the pandemic, Global’s outdoor business was bringing in more revenue than broadcasting (but I’ll bet you the profit margins are wildly different).

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Brad Hill

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