I’ve been thinking about these two forms of audio for some time now. With each new article published about streaming, we see how more and more people are listening to music in this way. The smart speaker has certainly contributed to the growth of music listening via streams, and the smart speaker growth is exploding.
I know with my own experience by getting my first smart speaker as a gift, to now owning three of them, how it’s totally changed how I listen to music.
And then there’s podcasting, a way for the spoken word to be communicated.
Radio versus Streaming & Podcasting
Radio for most of my life was a way to hear both music and the spoken word. It was curated and delivered in fresh and exciting ways by a variety of radio stations across the country.
Unfortunately, radio delivered programming on its timetable, not the listeners.
As VCRs came into the television world, I remember hearing, why isn’t there a device like that for radio? There actually was, I owned one, but it never really caught on like the video devices did.
The VCRs and DVRs changed how people consumed their television programs, and essentially did away with the concept of “Must See TV” turning it into “must record TV.”
Then along comes Netflix, and the concept of On Demand TV viewing was born.
One might argue that Blockbuster started it with video rentals, but it still really didn’t impact American viewing habits like streaming video did.
Again, Netflix disrupted people’s viewing habits when it would release an entire season of a TV series all at once. Gone was the need to come back week-after-week to see a program. Now, a new type of TV consumption was created, the binge-watch.
Broadcast versus Streaming
What’s really changed in our consumption of TV and radio is our ability to control what we see and hear, and when we want to see and hear it. In other words, On Demand is the media consumption process of the 21st Century.
I stream 100% of my television viewing. I can watch a program live, or start the show from the beginning if I arrive late, or just view it whenever I want, at another time through On Demand viewing.
Streaming TV has trained us, and now the smart speaker is taking our new media consumption habit and making audio listening just as easy to consume in this manner.
Alexa is ready, willing and able to play any genre of music that I want to hear, on a moment’s notice. She has more song selections than my own personal CD library and it’s so much easier to ask Alexa to play a song for me than try and find the CD that a song is on, and then load it into my CD player.
Complete honesty here, I’m not a fan of podcasts. I don’t know why, I’m just not. The only one I ever listened to in its entirety was the first season of the podcast Serial, and that was mainly due to a long 13-hour car drive, and my ability to download all the episodes onto my iPod to play in my car.
However, I do know that younger folks are really getting into podcasts and this segment will only grow as the spoken word genre finds a way to promote its wares.
The Looming Audio Battle
What I do see on the horizon is radio being drawn and quartered by streaming audio for music, and podcast audio for the spoken word. Both types of audio programming are easily called up via smart speakers and available On Demand.
Curated programming, as has been the staple of broadcast radio, will be challenged to compete.
Professional Radio & Amateur Radio
Radio won’t die, it has a future, but I see it bifurcating in the following ways:
- There will be professional broadcasters and amateur broadcasters.
- I see the future of radio looking something like the difference between professional and amateur theater. For example, the difference between Broadway and community theater; where the former are professional paid actors, and the latter is made up of talented volunteer locals with an insatiable love of theater.
- The advent of low power FM radio stations is the first toe-in-the-water that points in this direction for amateur radio personalities who volunteer their time and energy.
- Some of these volunteers will come from the ranks of retired or “dislocated” professional radio personalities and some will be members of the community that always thought it would be fun to be on-the-air.
- What seems to be disappearing are local radio stations in the middle, ones that used to be ad-supported by local businesses, who now find themselves displaced by big box stores and online shopping.
- The newspaper industry is the canary in the coal shaft for ad-supported media. Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charles Munger points out that, “Technological change is destroying the daily newspapers in America. The revenue goes away and the expenses remain and they’re all dying.” However, Munger does feel that papers like The Wall Street Journal and New York Times will most likely survive.
- Newspapers have been cutting staff like crazy but it’s done little to turn things around. Radio is following in print industry’s footsteps as “employee dislocations” are occurring at all the major broadcasting companies.
Does any of this make sense to you?
I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.
Please post your thoughts on comments section of this blog article, so that others may read them and hear different opinions.