Edison Research presented at CRS 2014, “Understanding Country Radio’s Next Generation of Listeners,” research on the music and media habits of 12-to-34 year olds, aka Millennials. Larry Rosen with co-presenters Megan Lazovick and Jayne Charneski unveiled results from an online survey of 1,550 12-34 year olds which was followed with in-person interviews for the fast growing 29% of that group that identified themselves as frequent country music listeners.
#BeMyFilter: Millennials are overwhelmed by the choices in their world; they own multiple devices, use an average of 4.4 social networks and welcome reliable filters. 78% of the respondents agreed they listen to FM radio to discover new songs. Lazovick told programmers, you already are the filter for country music. Find strategies to build on that asset.
#Connect and #RecognizeDiversity: Social media has broken down the walls between corporations and consumers and Millennials enjoy musical and ethnic diversity. Only 23% of Millennial country fans are “socially conservative.”
#LocalRules: 68% listen to local FM radio to find out about things going on in the community. “It has never been more important to play up your localness.”
#DoGood: Millennials have a strong connection between commerce and conscience. Making the world a better place is highly important to them and radio stations were advised to make sure Millennials know about the good work your station is doing.
#EasyButton: Radio has a tremendous advantage simply because the easiest thing to listen to in the car is local FM radio.
At the close of the presentation Rosen issue a tersely worded warning for programmers. “Country radio, like all radio, is in the fight of its life among younger consumers,” he said. “Broadcast radio is no longer the entire universe. Millennials are different from the previous generations of country fans and you are competing with so many options today. You came to this fight with a lot of advantages—expertise, relationships, local sales staffs, talent, history and one billion installed devices.” But Rosen noted, “…you are facing the huge challenge that digital radio brings and the related connection that these young people have to their smartphones where FM stations are in competition with infinite other options.” Rosen urged programmers to “double and redouble your social media efforts; sell yourselves as the filter for people’s overwhelmed lives, not just on your own airwaves but off as well.” Rosen garnered huge applause when he said, “We say live and local all the time, but it turns out that it isn’t just a line, it’s what the consumers say about us. That’s why voice tracking and the nationalization strategies are essentially a disaster for the radio industry. Even if you are being forced to voice track or run national shows it is up to you to keep yourself local at the same time in whatever spaces are left in your broadcast day.”