Radio is where we discover new music. So what?

It’s true. Radio is where people discover new music. All the research points to it, from Edison Research’s annual figures to excited YouTube comments: for the majority of us, we discover new music on the radio. After all, you can’t search Spotify for an artist that you don’t know.

What’s interesting is how few radio stations own “music discovery” for themselves. Is your station doing everything it can to tell your listeners that the radio is where they’ll hear new songs they’ll like?

Now that we’ve reached 2015, most radio stations now have now-playing information in their apps and on their website, which is a help. But we can do more.

So, it’s interesting seeing what the BBC are doing in terms of music discovery on their website and apps. They have a thing called the BBC Playlister, and the idea is relatively simple – when you hear a song you like on any of their radio stations, just hit the button.

That song then goes into your own personal playlist, saved on their website.

The clever thing is what the BBC do with that list. Because, with another touch of a button, you can export that playlist to a playlist in Spotify, Deezer, Rdio or YouTube.

So, if you’re a real fan of some of the tracks you heard on the air, BBC Playlister allows you to add it to the music service that you already use. Which is pretty clever. And rather more useful than a dead-end link to buy the song on iTunes.

Now, sure, Spotify or YouTube are competition to radio in one sense. But the reality is that our listeners are using them already. So, why not make it easier to let them play the great songs they were introduced to on your radio station? And remind them – by branding this automated playlist – where they discovered these tracks in the first place?

The BBC Playlister service had over 100,000 users in the first year, with an average of 50 songs per playlist – that’s a lot of people who know that radio helps them discover new songs.

And once you know someone’s favourite tunes, you can of course think about mailing them if you have an interview or a session with their favourite band coming up, and of course thinking about ticket or merch sales. Big data like this can help monetize your station: but in a way that feels personal and connected with your audience.

Radio’s a tremendously powerful way for people to hear their next favorite band. Remind your audience often, and offer them a way to make the most of that. They’ll thank you for it.


Read all James’ columns in the Radio Tomorrow section of our site.



James Cridland is a radio futurologist, and is Managing Director of, a companion website to radioinfo and AsiaRadioToday.

He has served as a judge for a number of industry awards including the Australian ABC Local Radio Awards, the UK Student Radio Awards, and the UK’s Radio Academy Awards, where he has also served on the committee. He was a founder of the hybrid radio technology association RadioDNS.

James is one of the organisers of, the radio ideas conference each September, and is also on the committee of RadioDays Europe. He writes for publications including his own, Radio World International and RAIN News.

James lives in North London with his partner and a two year-old radio-loving toddler. He very, very much likes beer.



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