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Mainstream radio is struggling with the pressure of more competitive online media and radio advertising. Despite the explosion of the internet, traditional broadcast media has fallen in the ratings to a new level of sales decline. At a time of constant fast changes, radio still has not been able to move with the times.
From now on, more than 80 per cent of commercial radio and more than 50 per cent of classical radio will have exclusive Sunday playlists. This is because commercial radio is desperate to attract an increasingly younger demographic and do more to keep that audience. It has been losing customers for 10 years and still struggles to keep new users.
The figures show that in 2005, there were 1.7 million listeners aged under 16, and by 2008 that figure had dropped to 1.1 million. Two thirds of those lost are under 10 years old. With an ever younger listener base, the pressure on ad revenue is increasing.
With some stations boasting big budgets and investment in artist development to attract young listeners and yet facing competition from ever cheaper, commercialised internet services, some stations have stopped playing some old favourites. This may be seen as commercial or innovative, but the reality is that some stations have moved away from playing some of their favourite genres.
Our research shows that on some stations, the number of tracks on an album was reduced dramatically from 17 to six. The number of tracks on a CD is currently 19, and radio stations are expected to play just six, cutting out the older and more popular songs. The music industry and musicians need to realise that radio is no longer the place to promote your new record.
Radio stations are told to do more to attract younger listeners to buy music, invest in artist development, spend more on producing music rather than adverts and be open to ideas for radio playlists. Some radio stations have become too commercialised and that is causing problems for their survival.
So, what is the answer?
We are living in a time of fast change. Some radio stations are moving too quickly and making plans without understanding what the current listeners want and how they will respond to these changes. Radio stations must listen to their audiences and try to keep their audiences listening to their radio stations. Radio stations must listen to their audiences and respond to their changes.
But there is no quick fix. That is why it is important to know what music the listeners want and how they are reacting to different aspects of the music industry. With marketing of music changing so fast, so broadcasters need to be open to exploring new ideas, both to sell music and to listen to the next generation of listeners.
Producers and producers need to encourage young musicians and support new ideas. Young musicians need to know that radio plays a big part in their careers.