I just found this on the Bridge Ratings website: TSL is UP Among MP3 Users? OK, so it’s from last May and I’m a bit behind in my reading. 😉 But what it essentially says is: the longer folks have a digital music player, the greater likelihood that they are listening to it less, and listening to radio more, than they did three months earlier.

This finding isn’t at all surprising, for two reasons…

First, if you’ve ever had a new “toy,” you know that you use it a lot and first and then tail off. When you get a new car, you drive it more than you really need to; a few months later, you drive to get somewhere. There’s no reason iPods and MP3 players should be any different.

Second, radio serves needs that music players just can’t…

Digital music players are a closed environment… you get out of them what you put into them. So there’s no sense of surprise, even if you put them on shuffle!. You’re not going to hear anything truly new, different or unexpected (unless you’re listening to a podcast, but that’s essentially just a new way to deliver radio programming, even if it’s not literally “on the air”).

Radio is a companion for listeners. In our psychographic research, most rate radio’s ability to “keep you company when you’re alone or lonely” as an important reason for listening. How does a music player do that???

People are social animals. They want a connection to other human beings. They want to hear human voices, they want to hear others’ points of view, hear about others’ peccadilloes and they want to be surprised and even shocked sometimes. This is what radio can do.

We’ve always had ways for listeners to play their own music. Today’s technology makes acquiring our “own” music far more convenient and efficient than older tech (like cassettes) and that makes it a far bigger threat to radio.

This means playing the “right” music — while crucially important — won’t alone win the battle with iPods (or satellite radio). Radio can and must be a source of connection for listeners!