Yesterday, Arbitron and Edison Research released their 19th edition of the Infinite Dial, an annual survey that examines the state of consumers’ access to radio, internet and other media.
These reports are always a fascinating glimpse at how consumer behavior is changing, especially with the introduction of new technologies such as internet radio, smartphones and more ubiquitous wifi.
One of the most striking data points in this year’s report (accessible here) is the massive awareness and adoption of Pandora. According to the report, nearly 50 percent of Americans 12+ have heard of Pandora, 24 percent of the American public has listened to it at some point, and 10 percent of the public listened to it last week. That’s nearly 30 million people that reported using it recently.
Why is Pandora so popular? One thing might be that it’s free (unless you pay for the premium, ad-free version), and that it works on all sorts of mobile devises and computers, but when asked about the features that they like the most, here’s what survey respondents said that they “agree strongly” with the following:
- 77 percent like the ability to create radio stations based on favorite songs or artists
- 74 percent like the ability to skip songs
- 71 percent agree strongly that Pandora is easy to use
- 62 percent agree strongly that Pandora has fewer commercials than AM/FM radio
- 60 percent agree strongly that Pandora seems to play a wider selection of songs that AM/FM
- 57 percent like that Pandora adapts what music they play to your musical tastes
- 49 percent like that Pandora has no personalities or DJs
- and, only 9 percent strongly agree that Pandora would be better if it had DJs who talk about the music.
Bottom line is that Pandora has been remarkably successful in giving users an easy, radio-like experience, but with a personalization that no terrestrial radio is able to duplicate. Terrestrial radio stations can certainly dedicate more resources to webcasting, but until they broaden their playlists and allow for listener customization, Pandora will continue to gain ground in the marketplace.
For musicians, Pandora, Sirius XM and other webcast stations also provide a new revenue stream. In addition to paying composers and songwriters public performance royalties via ASCAP/BMI/SESAC, webcasters and satellite radio also pay the sound recording copyright owner (usually the label), and the performer digital sound recording royalties via SoundExchange. And, according to reports from SoundExchange, their collections and distributions continue to rise as these formats mature.
If you are a performer or sound recording copyright owner, make sure you’re a member of SoundExchange. It’s free to join, and it ensures that the royalties that are due to you for digital performances can be sent to you. Check out the PLAYS database to see if there are performances attributed to you, then sign up.
The Infinite Dial report continues to track the growth of the digital marketplace, something that musicians have been experiencing first hand over the last ten years. And, all signs point to continued development. Artists should be sure they’re participating in it, and collecting their royalties.