Is music still the bricks of radio’s format?

In the first of a series of research articles from Xtra Insights, exploring The Future of Music on Radio, Hannah Lovegrove explores listener attitudes to music and content in Australia and the Asia Pacific region.

There was once a time when FM radio used to be all about the music.

Other content offerings like talk, news, weather and traffic updates, and advertisements were purely secondary, or the domain of AM.

With more choice than ever in terms of both music and audio, does the idea that music serves as the bricks of the format still hold true for these music stations?

Recently, Xtra Insights interviewed close to 3000 people across eight countries in the Asia Pacific region to gain a better understanding of their views towards radio and music. While music was often at the forefront of people’s responses, our research found that the future success of radio lies within the variety of content it offers compared to alternatives.

Music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, as well as other audio options like podcasts and audiobooks are seen to be very real threats. However, they don’t offer the same convenient music and content package that radio provides.

For many, radio offers more than just music. It’s a source of entertainment and information.

One participant noted: “I get popular and new music, current news and events, interesting conversations, and entertainment from my favourite hosts…” (Female, 24, Australia).

Others felt that the content radio offered made it preferable to other music streaming services: “I prefer radio to Spotify now, due to its mix of songs (old and new), getting news & information, which Spotify & other music apps can’t provide.” (Female, 31, Singapore).

Other participants highlighted the human element as an important factor that sets radio apart from its substitutes: “As opposed to music streaming like Spotify, radio offers the human element. It’s also engaging, informative and at times funny, which is something you won’t get through streaming. The feeling is more personal.” (Female, 27, Singapore).

Content is no longer just a form of entertainment or a source of information, it’s now an opportunity to connect on a more personal level with listeners while setting radio apart from potential competitors.

As the importance of content grows, so too does the need for it to be of the highest quality. Ultimately, an average song will still perform better than average content.

 So, while music will continue to form the bricks of radio, it’s clear that content is now an equally important piece in the programming foundation.


About the Author

Hannah joined the team at Xtra Insights in 2016, bringing with her a passion for data research and analysis. Since joining Xtra, Hannah has worked on a number of research projects in Australia and overseas and enjoys applying her skills within the media and entertainment industry.

As Project Coordinator, Hannah is involved in many facets of the company from marketing to music research. She is an integral part of the regional radio surveys team, helping to coordinate the release of multiple ratings surveys each year.

Xtra Insights specialise in media research. Xtra translates data into actionable insights. As an innovation leader, Xtra works with some of the biggest media companies around the world, using cutting edge methodologies to engage with their audiences. For more information head to



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