Blog Post

IPod killed the Radio Star

I heard you on the wireless back in Fifty Two
Lying awake intent at tuning in on you.
If I was young it didn’t stop you coming through.

Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone to far

radio.jpegThose are the lyrics from that mega smash song by The Buggles, the one hit wonders how celebrated the rise of video and MTV in that track. Fast forward a few generations, and it is clear that IPod killed the radio star. Today’s Barron’s (subscription required) has a fascinating story about how online music, and digital devices led by the iconic IPod are becoming a nail in the coffin of large radio companies, who broadband prefab format music with little or no attention to the popular musical tastes. “Across the country, listeners are changing how they choose to receive music and news and talk radio. They are turning to portable music players like Apple Computer’s iPod, streaming audio over the Internet and the emerging field of satellite radio to hear what they want, when they want to hear it,” writes, Sandy Ward in absolutely brilliant Barron’s cover story and continues, “Younger adults — the key targets of radio advertising — have clearly been losing their ardor for the medium. By one key measure, the number of listeners ages 18 to 34 has declined by about 8% in the past five years, as portable digital-music players, Internet radio programming and other innovations have started to take hold.”

While Barron’s is a chronicler of investments and Wall Street shenanigans, in this piece they have captured the true digital music zeitgeist. The advertising dollars are beginning to shrink in the commercial radio world. The stocks are taking a pounding, and it is only going to get worse.

“It’s over. Something good happened in the ‘Nineties; something less good has happened in the ’00s. Every retailer is blowing its budget on advertising and radio is not getting any of it. If they don’t get it now, they’re not going to,” Larry Haverty, a media specialist at State Street Research and Management in Boston, tells Barrons. “The death of radio has been heralded many times. Yet since its introduction to the mass market in the early 1920s, radio has survived — and thrived — because no other medium has been able to match its formatting flexibility, its local appeal, its immediacy and its low overhead. Not until now, at least. Cable companies, commercial-free (though fee-based) satellite radio, MP3 players and other digital wonders may at last be giving radio a run for its money,” sums up the weekly.

4 Responses to “IPod killed the Radio Star”

  1. Interesting point. i am actually working on something which might be of interest to you – hope to publish it on monday since i am busy doing other stuff this weekend. it will actually answer a lot of your questions and hopefully get a new thought process started. thanks for your comments. i think ISP is something which you can do even now, but it is very complicated. anyway more soon.

  2. abhijit


    I’ve been wondering about this for quite some time now. Will downloaded files finally replace radio?

    I feel as broadband gains ground, there will be another phenomenon. Having the same music file in millions of different homes will not make sense. I’d rather have my selection stored with the ISP and play that on any device I have at any time! That would resolve a number of issues simultaneously. Firstly, I don’t have to spend so much time and cost managing my music library. Second, I don’t have to care about formats (Apple & the rest!). Third, the ISP can send the file to my device depending upon it’s capability in terms of format and bandwidth. And finally, nobody will have to worry about RIAA honchos landing up at their doorstep. The debates about format wars and piracy will disappear.

    Of course, this requires visionaries among a number of different industries. Starting from ISPs, to content providers, to the Music and Movie industry. And I think it’s only a matter of time before these guys see sense and decide to put their heads together to give the best user experience possible.

    I feel broadband combined with Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), like they have in Europe will be the future and be a much more lethal combination than what we have seen till now.

    BBC has already been putting their media online for some time now –

    Shall we give it another, say, two years?

    – abhijit.