There’s a debate raging as to whether Pandora and other streaming services are “radio”. There are a group of broadcasters who want to narrowly define “radio” as a traditional approach to radio – with curated formats and live personalities (and towers). And then there are the upstarts that broaden that description to include other forms of audio. Some of them want to define radio to include themselves, but exclude others – like saying that Internet “radio” includes webcasters like Pandora, where there remains an element of surprise about what song you will hear next – but they want to exclude services like Spotify and Rhapsody where you can design your own playlists.
I say who cares whether it’s radio or not. And here’s why.
It’s all about the consumers. They are deciding what they want to listen to, and what device they will listen on. And they’re not debating whether or not it’s radio. They’re simply selecting the content that is most appealing to them. To them, the debate about whether it’s radio is irrelevant. And so it should be to everyone else. The new generation has no idea which tv stations are broadcast and which ones are cable. They don’t think about it and they don’t care. It’s all tv to them.
There’s an exciting expansion of audio content going on these days as a result of streaming. There’s data to indicate that the amount of time that consumers are spending listening to new forms of audio is not eating into old time spent listening to radio, but rather is expanding time spent listening to all audio content.
Time spent arguing and debating which products are radio would be better spent discussing how the audio industry can grow their share of the revenue pie. And improve relations with the music industry. And discover new and better ways to produce great content. Focus on the content and consumers, that’s all that matters..