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Car Improvements

29 January 2019

We’ve got cars on the brain.

The North American International Auto Show wrapped up in Detroit over the weekend. The auto show is always exciting because it serves as the global stage for companies to debut “brand-defining vehicles and industry-shaping announcements.” It is the largest of its kind in America, with over 750,000 people attending the event last year alone.

You may ask why we, a blog centered around music, are so interested in a car show? Well, one of the biggest trends on display this year are smart speakers and the incorporation of voice recognition systems into cars.

Car makers are beginning to integrate assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Assistant right into the car. The assistant can give you directions, play your favorite podcast, or – and here’s where we come in – curate the best music just for you.

That’s GREAT news for music fans and music creators alike!

Drivers now have the ability to customize their driving experience. Instead of tuning into generic AM/FM radio stations, drivers can easily act as their own DJ and listen to music they actually like and playlists curated to their exact style.

Not only is this hands-free feature a safety improvement, it is also a benefit to music creators, who get paid when their songs are streamed. When their songs are played on AM/FM radio, they are not paid.

All of this should make the traditional AM/FM radio execs even more worried about the ground they are losing.

The car is the one place where traditional radio still holds a consumer’s attention. Outside the car, according to research conducted by NPR and Edison Research, smart speaker usage grew by 78% in 2018, with 53 million Americans now owning a smart speaker. And the number one way they’re using their speakers? Listening to music, according to a study by Adobe Analytics last fall.

In the car, however, consumers haven’t had many other options but to listen to the radio or connecting a smartphone through their audio system. But, these new car innovations will likely lead to more people listening to their music through streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify – platforms with more choice and fair pay for artists – with radio left even farther in the past.

Big Radio claims that its promotion of artists means it doesn’t have to pay music creators for airplay of their song recordings. But who discovers new music or up-and-coming artists on the radio anymore? Most songs played on the radio have already been streamed for weeks, maybe even months.

So, while we never thought we’d be geeking out on the latest in car technology, we’re all-in! Radio needs to determine how they can innovate and fairly pay music creators, or it might lose its place on the dashboard and end up being a relic of cars past.



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