A new paper by Council for Research Excellence (CRE) with support from the Nielsen Company dispels many of the myths about how people today listen to music. From broadcast radio to MP3 players, some popular notions about listening in the digital age appear to be horribly off the mark. “How U.S. Adults Use Radio and Other Forms of Audio” is the result the tracking of 752 days of audio media usage of participants in five markets — Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Seattle – in parts of Spring and Fall of 2008. The study includes both users and non-users of media devices.
Myth: People don’t listen to the radio anymore.
According to the study, broadcast radio by far has the broadest reach and commands the most listening time. Broadcast radio has a 79.1% reach and gets an average of 122 minutes per day from listeners.
Myth: Young people don’t listen to radio less than older adults.
The CRE found that 79.2% of listeners from 18 to 34 listen to broadcast radio, and they average 104 minutes per day. Radio’s daily reach amongst younger listeners is only slightly lower than its 80.6% amongst 35 to 54 year olds. That older group averages 107 listening minutes per day – just three fewer than younger listeners.
Myth: Nobody listens to CDs anymore.
CDs and cassette tapes are second in reach (behind broadcast radio) and get an average of 72 minutes per day from users. CDs represented 16.1% of daily listening time in the study, over twice that of satellite radio and over three times the share of portable MP3 players. CD listening is higher for consumers with lower incomes and less education. However, the reach of CD listening is the same whether or not the listener is technology oriented.
Myth: Young people are over CDs.
Young listeners actually listen to CDs more often than older listeners, according to the study. Just under half the 18 to 34 age group listen to CDs every day, and they average 78 minutes per day. Only 36.2% of the 35 to 54 group listen to CDs daily, and they average just 74 minutes per day.
Myth: The iPod has killed off radio and CDs.
Portable MP3 players had only an 11.6% daily reach and a 4.9% share of all audio. Even among the 18 to 34 age group, MP3 players account for only 7.5% of each day’s listening time.
Myth: The computer is the new stereo.
Only 10.4% of the sample used their computers to listen to a digital file while only 9.3% streamed audio on their computers.
Myth: The Internet is where people discover music.
The two ways to listen to music on a computer – a saved file or streamed audio – represented very little of the study’s listening hours. Files accounted for only 4.1% of the study’s total daily listening. Streamed audio amounted to only 3.8%. The daily reach of each was about 10%.
Myth: The digital crowd has given up on other formats.
Over four-fifths of people who listen to MP3 players listen to broadcast radio and they average 97 minutes per day. People who stream audio on their computers average 98 minutes of broadcast radio per day.