People said they would never consider buying a car without a radio: Michael Hill at #RDE22

Michael Hill is the Founder and Managing Director of Radioplayer, and a passionate supporter of radio in the car.

Wayne Stamm from radioinfo was able to get a little of Michael’s time at Radiodays Europe following the session on Driving radio into the future: Can it still be the star in the car.

The session panel was Michael Hill, Phillipp Rabel (VW Group) and David Holecek (Volvo Car Group)



radioinfo:  It was a really interesting session today. What is your thoughts on the future of radio given what the two car manufacturers representatives had to say?

Michael Hill:  So we had two very different views represented in on the stage.

We had Volvo who do think radio is important but really don’t think we need tuners, AM FM HD DAB tuners, in the car. They are all about racing for the internet to deliver radio to the car.

Then of course we had VW Group in there who are much more conservative by nature, and they realized that the internet is probably not quite ready to deliver the massive amounts of radio listening that we have in the world at the moment. So they are very supportive of tuners remaining in the car for DAB, FM or HD.

Overall, I think as a radio guy, as long as there’s a radio button which is prominent and the reception is robust, I don’t really care how the signal gets to the car.

radioinfo: As far as the manufacturers are concerned, they are very keen to keep it as simple as possible on their screens.

Michael Hill:  Yeah, that’s because they’re obsessed about driver distraction. So, you know, the car industry is very safety driven industry as it should be. And most of our cars still can’t drive themselves. They will do one day.

So we need to have our eyes on the road. And, you know, they put all their interfaces through very rigorous testing, and that includes the radio.

So even if you’re confused for one second about how you’re going to find the station you’re after or the podcast you’re after, you could have killed a child on a crossing. So that’s why radio in the car needs to be super simple. And those guys in there know they have to mandate that and they will be really, really on it.

radioinfo: Radio is still one of those elements that people are looking for in the car. Your research has shown that it is still one of the favoured things.

Michael Hill:  We took a deep breath and we talked to 6000 vehicle buyers across many markets, including Australia, and we didn’t really know what we were going to find out.

Actually, we thought that people might say, well, radio, you can take it or leave it, not that interested or listen to Spotify and actually, that wasn’t the case at all.

We found that 90% of the people we talked to said that there has to be a broadcast radio, as standard in all cars, and 80% of people said they would never consider buying a car without a radio. 89% of people said broadcast radio is their most favoured entertainment medium in the car, even above things like music streaming services like Spotify, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

So we’re still number one in the car. That’s a big survey of 6000 people across many markets. It’s a very robust data, but we can’t take our place in the car for granted. We need to work really hard to maintain it.

radioinfo: It appears that the short term future is there, though the interesting thing that we heard from Volkswagen was, “…so what happens when it becomes a driverless car and that person, the driver, now becomes a passenger?”

Michael Hill:  Yeah, all bets are off at that point, right? We don’t know.

Are people going to be watching Netflix or porn or talking to their aunts in Cambodia…I have no idea.

I think people will still be listening to the radio because people listen to the radio in their homes and in their beds and while they’re walking around and while they’re jogging and, you know, they listen to radio in their lives and the car is another place where they live their lives.

The challenge for us, I think, is that it won’t be any more the, so for me I talk about the, Entertain Me button.

Radio is a safe, varied entertainment medium in the car where you need to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. In the future if you don’t have to do that it’s quite possible that we could find our share listening in cars eroded.

So again, another reason why we have to work really hard to maintain that.

radioinfo: There was an interesting question that came from the audience about getting radio under the one umbrella

Michael Hill:  I think that goes to in the future, whether particularly in dashboards powered by Android automotive, which is Google’s system.

Basically, everything is an app in that scenario, even the air conditioning controls. Not all apps are equal, though in that scenario, some apps will come pre-installed like the heating controls, a bit like your email app comes in your mobile phone, you don’t have to go hunting in the app store to find the email app, it’s usually baked into your mobile phone, right?

What I think radio needs to aim for is staying pre-installed as an app. Beyond that, every broadcaster will have their own streaming app, and they’ll want to compete in a kind of app store environment, which will be also in the car. That’s going to be quite a tough thing to do because it already is in your mobile phone if you’re a broadcaster with an app, how do you get people to download your app and and give up very valuable real estate on their on their smartphone to your little icon, as opposed to the thousands of other little icons that will also make noise for them.

I think we need to concentrate on those two different zones, and for me, as a radio guy, winning the radio button war is the most important one.

A great, simple live radio experience under a radio button that comes pre-installed in the car. I don’t care how the signal gets there. We’ve got to maintain that.

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