2010 American Youth Study

For many, the high point of the 2010 NAB held in Washingtonm DC in late September was Larry Rosin’s presentation of his 2010 American Youth Study (sponsored by Radio-Info.com). This was a follow up to an Edison Media Research study in 2000, which looked at the media usage of 12-24 year olds. In 2000, Larry Rosin advised the radio industry to target 12-24 year olds or watch them fade away. He also recommended the adoption of internet audio and co-branded side channels. Furthermore, he said that, “We can’t just depend on young people showing up any longer. We need to recruit them.” Most of his predictions came true, and you can see the hard evidence in his 2010 American Youth Study. The following is a recap of the study and takeaway points for your consideration.

This year, Edison interviewed 1,533 people aged 12-34 across America in an effort to shed some light on media usage among this young media generation. The results showed what Rosin called, “the impact of an incredible decade of media transformation, the extraordinary resilience of radio, and the challenges radio faces.” If you were not at the NAB, these are the highlights of the study.

 1. Four out of five 12-24 year olds say they have their own cell phone—and 43% of those who carry cell phones own a Smartphone.

  At the same time, most 12-24s own a broad variety of devices—most of which did not even exist in 2000. This year, 56% own a laptop computer, 46% own Apple iPods, and 35% own a portable mp3 player other than the Apple iPod.

 2. Only 16% of 12-24 year olds listen to AM/FM radio streams on their phones, while 18% of 12-24s listen to internet-only radio such as Pandora. Text messaging is done by 92% of 12-24 year old cell users. 

   One in three 12-24s have tried Pandora, and they have a self-reported 13% weekly cume rating. That’s more than all other Internet and AM/FM streams combined.

 3. In 2000, 12-24s reported an average of one hour per day online and 2:43 per day on radio. In 2010, teens and young adults are reporting nearly three hours per day on the internet and MUCH less radio. Now, the average 12-24 year old is spending 1:24 daily on the radio and 2:54 online.

 On a positive note, radio is showing more listening over 2009—while the internet and phone are also showing increased usage. 

  4. At least you’re not in newspaper. When asked how often they read the newspaper, 58% of 12-24s said Almost Never. Only one in ten said that they read regularly but not daily, and 4% said that they read almost every day. 

 5. Radio is THE place for learning about new music. Nine out of ten 12-24s say they frequently or sometimes learn about new music via listening to the radio. Similarly, one in ten 12-24s identified “streaming AM/FM radio stations online” as a source of new music. 

 6. Listeners say that radio’s strengths / best attributes are 1) in order to hear their favourite songs, 2) to learn about new songs, 3) to find out what the popular songs are, and 4) hearing personalities and DJs along with the music. 

 7.   Facebook is unstoppable. Compared to one year ago, 51% of 12-24s are using Facebook more. MySpace is struggling to grow. Twitter is growing—but slower than Facebook. 

8. One third of 12-24s say that putting an FM tuner on their cell phones would lead to more listening. Respondents were asked, “If your cell phone had an FM radio tuner, would it lead you to listen to FM radio a lot more than you do now, a little more, or would it have no affect on your radio listening?” In response, 11% said that they would listen a lot more, and 23% would listen a little more.

 9. Despite the fact that HD radio has been the most frequently heard advertiser on radio over several years, only 42% say that they have ever heard of HD radio.

 10. Communication between listeners and radio stations via “modern means“  is still in a development stage. One in five 12-24s have communicated with an AM/FM radio station or one of its DJs by phone, and 8% have communicated with a station by text message. 

   The Edison Media Research study on America’s youth is perhaps the most comprehensive view of radio’s future we’ve seen this year. Now, what do we do with this information? 

 1. It’s not just PPM favouring Top 40 formats, it’s the listeners! Top 40 hit music nearly doubled its appeal among 12-24s from 2000 – 2010. Across the country, Hip Hop and Top 40 were the formats most loved by survey respondents. During the same period, appeal for contemporary rock formats dropped by 50%. This doesn’t mean that you should drop your Alternative Rock format—it may still have tremendous upside in your market. However, it does show that the national “mass appeal” of pop and rhythmic music, including Hip Hop and rap, is strong and growing. Top 40 isn’t just a “format that PPM likes.” The listeners appear fond of it too! I believe that this represents a tremendous opportunity for radio. Rosin is showing the industry that Top 40 can be a strong ratings magnet—and it can help to naturalize younger listeners to radio. 

If you already are targeting younger listeners, sell your strengths. Use your imaging to teach your listeners how to use your station. Edison says that 12-24s come to radio 1) in order to hear their favourite songs, 2) to learn about new songs, 3) to find out what the popular songs are, and 4) hearing personalities and DJs along with the music. If it makes sense for your brand, take ownership of those benefits on your station. For example, a personality on the air may sell a benefit of your station this way… “When you listen to Kiss-FM, you know you get songs you like, and you’ll keep up on new music too.” 

 If you are a top 40 station and you are NOT doing well in PPM’s with 12-34’s, something is awry.

 2. Give the audience a real-time voice. Week after week, we see press in the USA on Pandora’s growing share of Internet radio listening. This study points to Pandora’s ability to “customize its stations around the listener’s favorite songs/artists” and its ease of use as its most valuable points of differentiation. Four out of ten 12-24s in this study say that Pandora’s ability to learn about their personal music tastes and continue to adapt the music it selects is one of the most attractive features of the service. 

 This is one of the reasons why our company is representing Listener Driven Radio (LDR) in Canada because we think this offers radio stations a real opportunity to allow listeners of any age to influence the music you play and give critical feedback to radio programmers. We do not have Pandora in Canada so your radio station can own this position in the minds of your listeners and potential listeners by utilizing the benefits of LDR. LDR is software for radio stations that makes it possible to create a “broadcast version” of Pandora. Each station can customize the program to fit their approach. Listeners have the ability to choose which song plays next, which songs should play more or less, get alerts when their favourite songs play, and upload their own music for consideration by the PD. Of course, all of the playlist manoeuvres are made within the rules set by the PD—and there is direct integration into the PD’s music scheduling software and automation. There is also valuable integration into Facebook and 280+ other social networks, helping a station to grow its reach through social media.

 LDR gives listener a voice which is the KEY to making our stations relevant to future generations. Pandora has set a market-level expectation that good radio stations shape their playlists around the audience. Programs like LDR make it possible for radio to do that in real-time, just like Pandora.  

 3. Daypart your content online, and don’t miss mornings and middays as an important online opportunity. Rosin says, “In the last decade, radio has lost its edge as the most prevalent activity in the morning for young people. In 2000, 74% of 12-24s listened to radio in the morning. In 2010, only 41% listen to the radio regularly in the morning. At the same time, internet usage has more than doubled (from 16% using the internet in the morning to 42%). 

 There is also a major decline in newspaper usage in the morning. Now, only 4% of 12-24s say they even look at a newspaper on any kind of regular basis. 

Why are so many people online in the morning? I’ve heard listeners say in focus groups that they are “catching up” from everything they’ve missed overnight. They’re checking e-mail, looking at the weather, reading news, and getting important survival information before they hit the door. The audience that comes to your site in the morning vs. middays is in a different mindset. Daypart your content accordingly. In the morning, think instant service and survival information. What do your listeners NEED to know today? 

 Then, during the workday, bring them back to your site for lifestyle-oriented information. Keep their attention at work to earn valuable at-work AQH. 

 4. Streaming, Diversity of Options, and Database Mechanisms are critical to a future-minded radio strategy.  Your audience wants options, and your audience wants those options to be accessible via streaming. Edison’s study is not the first to point out that mobile streaming is increasing. If you aren’t streaming, you’re not accessible to an important young/future audience. Look for ways to extend your brand with special online content and premium streams / audio downloads. 

 Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, and other popular new services also know your listeners by name. They are amassing impressive databases with your audience’s names, contact information, personal interests, and details on their individual preferences. How much do you know about each of your individual listeners? Start building your database today—the best way to start is to give your listeners a reason to want to share this information with you. 

 5. If music is ALL that makes you special, you’re in trouble. Now, twice the number of 12-24s download music online compared to youth in 2000. At the same time, illegal downloads have increased and listeners can get any music they want with just a few clicks. 

 Yes, you should play the most popular songs. 
Yes, you should sell the benefit of “new music” on your station. 
And, yes, you should use personalities and positioning/branding to make your station unique. 
Even YouTube delivers music now. Why should listeners get their music from YOU? 
Why YOU? Be unique and remarkable.

 Yuo can see the complete study here