On Monday, September 25, 2017, National Public Radio (NPR) and Edison Research released part two of The Smart Audio Report. In it, researchers found that smart speakers, like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, are changing the listening habits of music lovers. The report found that consumers are predominantly purchasing these smart speakers to listen to music over any of the other key features these speakers offer.
As technology fuels innovation and growth in the music industry, it’s evident that music fans are taking advantage of new ways to listen to the music they love. What’s more, new technologies and innovative platforms mean consumers have a choice when it comes to how they listen to music – and they’re not choosing radio. The Smart Audio Report Part II found that of the more than 800 smart speaker users interviewed, 62% said they purchased a smart speaker “to hear better music than what’s found on FM radio,” while 45% said their reason for wanting a smart speaker was “to replace an old stereo/radio.”
The trend towards smart speakers is also impacting the value listeners are placing on paid streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music. The report found that 28% of smart speaker users “say that getting a Smart Speaker caused them to pay for a music subscription service.” Such music platforms in turn compensate creators for playing their music.
This is a great dynamic for music creators and fans. More music is getting to more people through innovative and exciting new technologies. The only loser would appear to be FM radio, and for music creators it’s hard to have much sympathy. FM radio has fought for decades to hold onto its government subsidy that allows it to play music for free. This has protected their profits and sheltered them from competition. Now that cutting-edge competitors are at their doorstep offering products and services unimaginable a few years ago, radio is struggling to keep up.
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