Passive, Drug-like Pleasures of Radio

[image courtesy of fauxrazor / Flickr ]

Kurt Hanson’s Radio and Internet Newletter recently quoted a report from Radio Business Report [subscription required] that theorized a loss in radio TSL [time spent listening] from automobile iPod/portable music player integration.

Theorization aside, we have touched on this in the past. The figures for the coming year in the auto industry are astonishing: seventy percent of new models will feature connections of one sort or another for people to connect their players.

Here is the important part:

To fill these portable players & iPods, folks are ripping their own CDs, or their friends’, as the BBC has reported. They are not rushing to the iTunes site to fill those gigabytes upon gigabytes with songs at $.99 a pop. Apple is surely aware of this. No one in their right mind would think that users would fill up a 5,000-song iPod with $5,000 worth of $.99 songs. Only 5% of the songs on the iPods are from iTunes, says the above BBC story.

That hasn’t kept Starbucks from partnering with iTunes in hopes of sprouting a sixth or seventh finger on their all-powerful music tastemaker death-grip. Or Best Buy from teaming with RealNetworks and Sandisk to provide an iTunes-like service.

To me, this looks like a situation similar to that of the mixtape. A really huge, 5,000 song mixtape. At some point, many folks want to be curated at. They want to be informed about what’s what, something that radio is ever-capable of doing.

A recent story in the New Yorker tells of Geoprge Orwell reveiwing a book about Mass-Observation titled The Pub and the People. Orwell remarked that the pub was in danger of being “gradually replaced by the passive, drug-like pleasures of the cinema and radio.” Last I heard, pubs are still doing well. So is radio. Despite the iPod. The appeal of the iPod may well be druglike, but it is not passive.

Thank goodness for the passive, druglike pleasures of radio.

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