| 04 Jun 2023
IRF: There will be music but no radio in the next 10 years

ZURICH: As new technologies are being discovered and industry leaders are seeing the digital way ahead, the radio business in most countries is set to witness a big question mark on the existence of the medium in the 21st century.

The session ‘Demand for Radio in the 21st century’ by The Orchard founder and VP international Scott Cohen was an eye-opener and contention point for many head honchos from the radio and music industries from across different continents.

Between the period of 1998-2000, the physical album sales in the music industry were huge. With the advent of online platforms after that, there was a paradigm shift in sales as most of the music businesses could not manage to shift their models to the online medium. The meagre number of digital downloads too did not help the industry and sales decreased further by 2009. And though the music creation and consumption has increased, the method of consumption has changed drastically.

According to Cohen, radio too stands a chance to face a similar fate in the future. "You need to address the question that why do you need radio? What is the gap in the market that you are filling through the medium," he said.

With radio becoming more portable now and featuring in cars amongst other places, the medium has opened up a new market for listeners now. And though its strengths still lie at factors like ubiquity, taste making, shared experience and access to content and people, the times are changing.

The invention of the digital platform is replacing the traditional radio with smartphones and more. Cohen agreed, "There will be music but no radio in the next 10 years. They will disappear from cars as well as there is not that much choice for consumers on it now. If a machine is capable of creating a playlist of their choice within seconds why will they tune into a radio and listen to ads and songs that they are not interested in?"

While major markets like US, UK and Europe amongst others are at high risk, emerging markets like India and Africa who are still in the FM broadcasting phase may be hit by the same wave in the future.

The only solution which may benefit the medium and win listeners instead of losing them is to work out a deal with the online companies like Spotify and Pandora. And with most stations doing that already, it is helping them maintain their fan base and understand, accept and prepare for the inevitable future ahead.