In the age of streaming, is radio still worth it?

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Traditional media might not matter to some artists and fans, but it’s totally a big deal.

Vasja Veber

Jul 21 · 2 min read

Slap me with a walkman and call me a boomer, but I still listen to most of my music on the radio. Might be because I spend a lot of my time in the car, and when I’m driving, I’m switching radio stations more often than lanes.

The reason? Discovery. The linear format of radio and the way it pushes its editor’s music taste into my tinnitus-infested ears allows me to discover new music, transforming my car into an entertainment platform. Sure, most of the time it helps me build my blacklist (sorry, Reggaeton artists, but it all sounds the same to me), but I often whip out Shazam to identify an interesting track and then search for it when I return home.

Radios have the reach and the frequency to deliver their ‘playlists’ to the masses worldwide. Streaming has yet to achieve such sales-driving value.

Having a streaming service play random tracks never works for me. Algorithms will never be able to predict and satisfy one’s taste, because people have weird listening patterns. Example: one of our developers is a huge metalhead who also adores Taylor Swift. I can only imagine how much this screws up Spotify’s taste algos.

As radio is a large curated playlist in a way, it has the reach, the frequency and the potential to deliver interesting stuff to the masses worldwide. Streaming has yet to achieve such promotional, sales-driving value. Check out the worldwide spins on our platform, if you don’t believe me.

Aside from radio acting as a great needle that occasionally pops our music bubble, linear programs have that super weird attraction no one can explain. I have listened to Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” at least ten thousand times, so I never ask Siri to play it for me. I got fed up with it. But if it airs on the radio, you bet I’ll listen to it from start to end, sing along and burst into a full-on drum solo on the steering wheel. The same goes for watching Forrest Gump whenever it airs on TV.

I think music-centred radio stations won’t fade away that easily. I only wish they would get rid of self-centred hosts.

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