The future of media – can radio compete with Spotify, Deezer or YouTube?


This is the fourth and final part of our “The future of media” series. Don’t forget to check the first three posts:

  1. The future of media – is everything going to be digital?
  2. The future of media – are newspapers going to die?
  3. The future of media – is Netflix going to disrupt a linear TV?

How we use radio

When you look at the radio as a physical device, it hasn’t been changed forever (except the smaller size, obviously). That device receives some voice content over frequency modulation (FM) technology. That content included music, as well as news, shows, and commercials. As with television, end-users were passive and couldn’t influence the content, except changing the station.

Old radio

Radio today is being used mostly in two cases:

  1. In a car, on the way to and from work
  2. As background music at work

What is changing?

Two significant changes affect radio stations.

  1. Services like Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Google Music, and YouTube are here. All these services contain millions of songs on-demand. And we’re connected to them via our mobile phones and 24/7 internet connection. 10-15 years ago we had a radio as the most used way to listen to the music (with CDs, of course) and had no other option. We had to listen to commercials between the songs. We had to listen to the shows. We had to. But today we all have an option. We are in control of what we’re going to listen when we work, when we’re at home… because technology enables us that.
  2. Radio devices in cars are getting connected to the internet. Directly or via Bluetooth through our mobile phones. Which means, we can use all these wonderful services to stream music while we’re driving.

Tesla radio

I can imagine users entering the car, and just saying:

Hey Siri, play some hip-hop music on my radio.

Users already have mobile phones with 24/7 internet, they have or can have a subscription to some music streaming service, they just need to have a Bluetooth-enabled radio in a car, which is becoming a standard today. And the game will change.

What will happen with linear radio stations?

Millennials are less keen to listen to the radio shows and commercials. They want to choose the content they consume. As with TV and newspapers, technology enables us to consume the content we want when we want and how we want. We all consume AM/FM radio on a daily basis, but the question is, do we consume it as much as we used to?

Linear radio served us well for the past decades. But it has limited functionalities. In the on-demand world, it has to compete with many popular services to get users’ attention. The content they put in front of the users will have to be much better.