Charlie Cook On Air: The Power Of Country, Pt. 2

Last week I took at look at the brand new CMA study as part of their Power of Country initiative. The CMA has taken the lead in checking the pulse of the Country Music/Radio fan. The research project started years ago under the guidance of Joe Galante, then of Sony, and the Research committee chairman of the CMA.

The organization spent a great deal of resources to dig deep into the psyche of the Country Music fan. A great deal was learned about the buying, listening and concert going public. From this research was born the CMA Insider Fan Panel, a group of more than 13,000 Country Music fans. Throughout the year the CMA reaches out to these panelists and is able to measure changing attitudes.

Last week I dealt primarily with how these panelists used Broadcast Radio. This week I am going to explore the fans’ use of Country Music online; how and where they buy music; how they use Social Media and how important new artists are to the genre and Radio.

The headline is that Country fans that listen online prefer Pandora more than 2 to 1 versus Spotify.

Pandora leads the pack with 51% of the listening online with these respondents. Spotify, the newer and less well known of the two, comes in at 24% with Slacker and Rhapsody at 18%.   What is not asked is if any of the respondents use the paid versions of these services.

Personally I use Pandora and Spotify but I don’t pay for either service. I use Spotify to find music that I cannot find in other places (like Play MPE) just to sample. I like that it is on demand. Pandora is good for a “Tears for Fears” mood that hits me every once in a while.

Not only is Pandora the “cume” leader but it is far and away the TSL leader with 31% of its users locked in for up to 3 hours a week and 11% for over 6 hours a week. None of the other services are in the same zip code. By the way, none of these numbers are even close to the listening levels for Broadcast radio.

The real difference between Broadcast Radio and Online Radio is location of listening. Ninety-Three percent of the respondents said that they listen to Broadcast Radio in the car. (51% said that they also listen to Broadcast Radio in places other than the car). When questioned about online locations 42% said at home, 25% at work, 10% in the car.

I just learned that many workplaces are restricting the use of online listening on company computers. This will certainly impact the listening levels to all music in the workplace at some point.

Not only does Mark Zuckerberg have about $12B he has a lot of friends. Almost 90% of the respondents in this survey are on Facebook. And half of them comment or reply to a Country Radio post.

Twitter is far behind and engagement is also behind Facebook. You might remember that I have cautioned that at some point Facebook will rise up and try to take away a station’s listener base but for now stations need to use every avenue to communicate with listeners.

Right now the Internet is still very Broadcast Radio friendly with 75% of Country fans visiting a station’s website in the past 30 days. The really good news is that the number one reason is another commerce driver. Concert information is why 62% say that they check station websites regularly.

Over half of the station’s fans use the site to enter contests and 20% claim to visit the site as part of their daily routine.

I can tell you, as a radio programmer, that the number one discussion today is about new artists. We get about dozen legitimate new acts every quarter. Radio gets heat for not being aggressive with new acts but the survey says that 73% discover new artists and songs from their local Broadcast Radio station.

Radio also sends the fans off to do some research on new artists and their new music. The Internet is so much a part of our life today and the access to information is so easy that radio serves as the spark but the Net is the accelerant. A quarter of the fans are moved to purchase a CD or individual track from following a song they like on the radio. A pretty darn good return on investment. Anyone at RIAA listening?

Music videos come in second with 53%. Friends, Facebook and Twitter are all about the same at just above 30%.

Having the listener reach into their pocket is one of the most important things they can do. That will be the only true measurement of success.

Almost a third say they are planning to buy more digital tracks and young fans are more likely to buy more digital tracks than other groups.

Selling music is not what it used to be but the concert business is improving, particularly for the superstars and Country Music fans look to their favorite Broadcast Radio station to play new music, current hits and provide concert and touring information. Stations need to do this and they need to talk about it every day, taking credit for what you do and emphasizing what we know is important to the listener.

Country Radio is the number one source for information and access to new music and new artists. Country Radio needs to take ownership of this and make sure that it delivers everyday to the listener’s expectations.

And kudos to the CMA for being willing to take on this continuing project. This is information that its entire constituency can benefit from everyday.

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