Listeners Who Value Exposure to New Music Have High Radio TSL's
November 12, 2012
Time for some more fact-checking and myth-busting. Don’t believe everything you hear about Radio listeners who are music-passionate, or new-music-seekers. The truth is that the more passionate a listener is about key attributes that have always defined Radio, the more likely she boasts a long Radio TSL.
There are really only a small handful of essential, traditionally successful, basic music-vintage positions, ranging from old to new, endlessly paraphrased and recalibrated according to format. But at least one of them will serve as a magnet to any successful music station. So let us take a look. Do a lot of listeners today prize each of these music positions? And if so, do those listeners, who consider each of those attributes important, listen to the Radio more, or less, than other listeners?
Is Radio listening robust …
- … among the listeners who place high value on discovering new music?
- … among the listeners who place high value on hearing current hits?
- … among the listeners who place high value on hearing the most popular titles for their target taste?
- … among the listeners who place high value on music that brings back memories?
Naturally, these are important questions to ask because consumers have so many more choices in music listening. Each listener had the opportunity to place high value on as many attributes as he chose. Thus, constituencies can certainly overlap. The same consumer who says exposure to new music as very important in his music listening life may also say that hearing the biggest current hits is very important. We want to do a check-up on each group, one at a time, to make sure that in every one of these constituencies, Radio is addressing their needs. We will look at question (1) above this week, and (2)-(4) in the next couple of weeks. First we will identify precisely who particularly values that attribute, by demos and format constituencies. Then we will compare those folks’ Radio TSL’s to those of listeners who are less passionate about that attribute.
Listeners Say They Want New Music, Peaking with Urban and CHR P-1’s
Most listeners put a high value, at least in theory, to wanting to be exposed to new music. Not surprisingly, this demand peaks young in both genders and is stronger female than male. But the two key take-aways here are: (1) Avowed desire for new-music exposure is solid across the demos, and the young/female skews are not dramatic; and thus, (2) on a 6-point scale, majorities of every demo except Men 35-49 rate exposure to new songs as a "5” or a “6.”add up to one very critical point. We need to remind ourselves that most Radio listeners, not just an intensely music-active young fringe, think they want exposure to some new music. The name of the game is to deliver just enough new music to satisfy that itch, without committing the opposite and potentially more serious sin of sounding too unfamiliar.
Urban P-1’s are the most likely to put a very high value on exposure to new music, at one-third of them. CHR listeners, of course, also say they crave it, but the appeal is far broader than those formats which are by definition new-music-focused. One-fourth of AC and Rock P-1’s each assign a “6,” the highest possible value, on getting some new music. Country and Classic Rock P-1’s are much less likely to give it a “6.” But if we look at how many listeners score this item at a “4” or higher, the Country P-1’s are ahead of the Classic Rock P-1’s, and equal to other format groups.
Listeners Who Seek New Music Listen To Radio Longer Than Those Who Don’t
So the real constituency of listeners who have a strong interest in new music is indeed large. If Radio were truly in TSL trouble among that constituency (as opposed to any small fringe of niche or avant-garde new music seekers), we would see evidence of that trouble in the chart above. We would see a declining, or at least a flat, slope, as we look from left to right. Yet we do not. In fact, among listeners most passionate about new music exposure, 3/5 have TSL’s over an hour. Meanwhile, among listeners least passionate about new music exposure, the number is under 2/5. (We have combined the 1, 2, and 3 groups to get a large enough sub-sample.) Bottom Line: The Radio listeners who most value hearing new songs listen to Radio more than other listeners.
What this means to you
As we have always known, there will always be a rabid sector of the audience that voraciously consumes vast amounts of cutting-edge, new music. Of course, pursuing those folks, while alienating the majority who crave familiarity, is invariably a losing proposition. So the healthiest way to look at that constituency is to include them as a (loud but small) part of the total new-music-seeking audience. Once we do that, and place these folks in that bigger demand pool, where they are only a small subset of new-music seekers, we see the big picture. We are indeed serving that constituency. Radio, on the whole, not only does not have a TSL problem among new music seekers, it has a TSL advantage among them. Now, of course, this is not a substitute for knowing your own particular audience, and it is very important to take their temperature regularly on this question. But chances are good that by giving them just enough flavor of fresh material, and spinning and packaging it well, you are delivering just enough and earning their longer TSL.