09/23

11 Million New Users to iTunes Radio – in One Weekend

happy-iphone-ownerThat’s the news from Apple:

Over 11 million unique listeners have already tuned in to iTunes Radio since launch with the most listened to song being “Hold On, We’re Going Home” by Drake.

A “Pandora killer”? Of course not. But does some of that listening come from Pandora? You bet.

Does some come from other iTunes listening? You bet.

Is some of that listening brand new – borrowed from nobody in the radio space? You bet.

Is some of that listening stolen from radio? Absolutely.

There’s a slavish devotion among some in radio to research which asks respondents to dissect their listening to understand where new listening to new media comes from. And the result tends to be that it’s additive; that is, the new listening is new and does not cannibalize anything consumers were listening to before.

For anyone who believes this, I have some proverbial swampland in Arizona I’d like to sell you.

The fact is that listeners are not consciously familiar with their own past behaviors at a granular level, and they’re certainly not familiar with the details of how they spend their media time. That’s why so many in radio argued for the superiority of PPM over diaries, after all.

The fact also is that while media consumption can indeed be additive – for example, I can use an iPad while I watch TV – audio media consumption is generally not additive. That is, you can’t listen to two streams of content at once. It’s either your radio station or your iTunes Radio – not both.

Now, we can certainly listen in new ways and in new places that we haven’t listened before – adding time to that listening. But this proposition bumps up against the plethora of competing media and distractions already available to us, from video games to TV to YouTube to Netflix. Indeed, Arbitron’s own data shows that consumers are not spending more time with radio than they have previously, quite the opposite, actually.

Media that consume our ears – whether or not it’s strictly audio-based – cannot generally add to other media that consume our ears in the same block of time.

Meanwhile time, lest we forget, is finite. And the competition for that time is increasing.

So the biggest losers in the battle for attention will be those media who control the most attention in any given context. At home, that’s the TV. In a car where I can entertain only my ears, that’s the radio.

Via a mobile device the big loser might be Pandora, but don’t forget that iTunes Radio is likely creating new online radio listeners at a faster pace than it’s carving into Pandora’s base (I’ll be looking for that data, for sure).

I have previously argued that iTunes Radio changes everything – for radio, too.

This past weekend we have 11 million illustrations of exactly that.

What are you doing to be worth seeking out no matter what kind of attractions Apple bakes into iTunes?

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