I always have difficulty with their studies because they’re widely publicized but always hazy with regard to their methodology, and this new Bridge Ratings study is no exception. So take these conclusions with a grain of salt.
The biggest headline: 85% of the total sample would choose their MP3 player over traditional radio as their preferred option for music.
To which I say: Duh.
(Methodological note: Is this a survey of ONLY those under-25’s who own mp3 players? If so, it’s skewed on its face).
In other words, given a choice between a selection of music you (literally) hand-pick and a selection picked by someone else for tastes which are not necessarily yours, 85% of the sample picks their own hits over everyone else’s. Indeed, the truly remarkable thing is that 15% of these folks were dumb enough to pick radio’s judgment over their own.
And here are Bridge’s recommendations:
– Add variety – more different types of music and different types of programming throughout each day (although it seems to me that adding more variety technically means playing less of everyone’s favorites as well as less of yours or mine)
– Reduce repetition (But if I have a couple hundred songs on my iPod, don’t I have even more repetition than the average station?)
– Showcase much more New Music (but this audience is the one for Top 40 – where the music is ALL new)
– Hire relateable personalities who can expose this age group to new music (you mean like the ones on my iPod?)
– Podcast your personalities, create blogs, eliminate the pre-recorded, imported automoton announcers. Completely embrace all of the technology available as extensions of the radio station (well, sure, but this doesn’t have anything to do with the iPod problem per se)
– Re-think commercial loads, placement and production quality. For example, properly placed hour long sponsorships would enhance client brands and station image (True – but show me the station with the guts to do this – and the client willing to pay for it)
– Provide what the MP3 player cannot (this is their last point and by far the most important. It is also the one that is easiest for radio to do – if we choose to bother)
I don’t mean to come off cynical here. But we need to clearly understand that while iPods are certainly a substitute for radio we will never be able to do a better job of serving each listener’s individual moment-by-moment needs for the songs they prefer than an iPod does. The way to the hearts and ears of an under 25 audience is, first and foremost, to develop an interest in serving them en masse.
And judging by the number of surveys I’m asked to do which ignore persons under 25, we’re not nearly there yet.