Free, Ad-supported AM/FM Still Very Much Top Choice

Inside Radio
April 6, 2016

Why pay when you can get it for free? That’s the takeaway from a new Kelly Music Research survey of 500 listeners aged 17-59 in large, medium and small markets nationwide. They were asked about their behavior and preference for streaming music services Pandora, Spotify or SoundCloud and for AM/FM radio.

When AM/FM was thrown into the mix, 98% report they still listen to traditional radio. But 40.4% say the only place they listen to AM or FM radio stations is in the car, and among 17-34-year-olds, 50% tune in to AM/FM only in the car. Only 1.6% of Kelly’s sample says they never listen to AM/FM.

Fewer than 8% of survey respondents reported currently using paid versions of Pandora, Spotify or SoundCloud, with advertiser-supported free music remaining the preference among those who have embraced streaming. Pandora leads the pack among streamers with 64% saying they have used some form of the service, including 75% among the 17-34 demographic. Spotify was the service more likely to earn paid users with 4.6%, followed by Pandora’s paid version with 2.4%.

If there was no free version of the services, only 12% said they would pay for their favorite stream. Younger streamers are the most willing to pay—22% of 17-24, 16% of 25-34, 11% of 35-44 and 8% of 45-59. The remainder would refuse to pay and search out a free service. The survey also finds that men are more likely to pay (14.2%) than women (10.5%).

Asked hypothetically if they would be willing to pay for AM/FM radio, 9.7% said they would pay to listen to their favorite station—compared with the 12% who say they’d pay for their favorite stream choice.

But according to Kelly, “not only did most say ‘no thanks’ to the idea of paying for their current free streams, verbatim comments show that many were infuriated by the hypothetical scenario suggesting that AM/FM radio might one day ask for a subscription fee.”

Southern California Broadcasters Association White Paper Report

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