If video killed the radio star, the Internet may end up killing radio as we know it. Consider that when baby boomers like yours truly were growing up, there were two choices: AM and FM (life was so much simpler back then). Then stereo came along to the FM dial (anyone remember when KLOL broadcast in Quadraphonic or 4.0 stereo?). Today there are even more choices with XM/Sirius, H-D Radio and, of course, Internet radio.
While there are many complaints about today’s corporate radio (how many times can one station play “Sweet Home Alabama” in a day?) and what it’s done to listening habits, one thing is certain: There is a growing trend to spend less time with traditional radio and more time with Internet radio.
Meet Pandora. It currently has 40 million registered users and 15 million monthly visitors. That compares to CBS Radio, which has about nine million listeners who stream its programming monthly, and Clear Channel, which has eight million listeners tune in online.
Why do so many people choose to listen to Pandora? A big concern for traditional radio is Pandora’s model, which allows users to customize music to their own liking. Simply type the name of artist you like, and Pandora will build a custom radio station just for you.
It has been estimated that nearly one-third of Pandora’s daily users listen to Pandora on mobile phones. And the news gets even better for Pandora. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Pioneer will debut a new navigation and entertainment device in March, allowing Pandora users using Apple iPhone and iPod touch devices easy access to Pandora in their cars. Once connected, the user will see their Pandora settings on the unit’s navigation screen.
Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren was quoted in the Journal saying, “Maybe a year ago people would have said Pandora is a computer thing…. They're beginning to realize that Internet radio is an anytime, anywhere thing.”
So what does that mean for listeners of radio? It means you now have even more control and choices on what you choose to listen to. Nothing lasts forever. (Remember how cool 8-tracks were?) Even compact discs will become less relevant with people purchasing music online. As Albert Einstein once said, “Technological change is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
While Pandora may not kill radio, it will rearrange the face of it.