Is radio still relevant for musical artists?

Image credit: Viberate

In the battle of streaming versus radio, music streaming is winning. But a new report shows we shouldn’t discount the role of radio waves just yet.

With every new audio invention, the fear ensues that technology will kill what came before. The situation between radio and streaming is no different. Does the rise of music streaming mean the end of new music on the radio? A Viberate report found it to be more complicated than that.

Viberate’s report offers insight into the demographics of artists doing well across both listening mediums, from genre to generational divides. The report compared the analytics of the 100 artists on Spotify with the most streams with the 100 artists with the most radio streams in June 2021.


What are the most listened to songs on the radio right now?

While Olivia Rodrigo had the most streams on Spotify in June 2021 with 1 billion streams, on radio Dua Lipa took the top spot with 445.3k plays. Interestingly, Michael Jackson and Queen were in fourth and fifth place on radio plays, with Drake and Justin Bieber the equivalent on streaming services. This correlates with findings that 64% of artists on radio airplay have been in the business for 15 years or more.


Do people still listen to the radio?

Just as MTV did not mean the end of traditional radio plays, music streaming did not lead to the obsolescence of radio. On average, people spend 99 minutes a day listening to radio in the United States and 140 minutes streaming. Meanwhile, in Europe, people spent 116 minutes listening to the radio compared to 99 minutes streaming.


What music plays the most on the radio?

Dive deeper into which artists are having the most success across the two different mediums. 75% of radio plays were in the pop (42%) and rock (33%) genres. On Spotify, pop accounted for just 27% of streams, while hip hop accounted for 38% of streams.

The report found that on streaming services, releases quickly create a buzz, but that buzz dies down as soon as the next big sensation hits. Thereafter, however, radio takes over, with the track maintaining continuous rotations on radio stations and remaining on listeners’ radars.


So, will we soon see the end of the music listened to on the radio? Viberate signaled a coexistence between streaming, radio, and video. While total stream volume is higher, for the 100 artists with the most radio plays, streams were still at 154,000.

The difference is in which artists perform best on different platforms and how the arc of a successful release unfolds. Radio still has a role to play, especially for established artists.