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Really Spotify?

September 10, 2019

I am a lover of radio. I spent thirty years on the air and programming radio stations. But I do listen to a lot of Spotify. Why? Hey, I’m a former PD. No one can build a better playlist than I can.

I don’t pay for the premium service. It’s not because I’m cheap (well, maybe a little). It’s because I want to hear the commercials. I’m curious to see who is advertising on the platform. Unfortunately, I get more promos than spots. Most of these are, frankly, lame and boring. However, a recent one got my attention … and raised my ire.

It starts with the simple phrase: “Thank you for listening to Spotify. Really, thank you…” OK, this is good. It is always a nice gesture to show appreciation to your listeners. But that is not the intent here. The promo goes on (and I’m paraphrasing a bit).

“You could be listening to the radio …” Taking a swipe at the competition? I’m fine with that. We have all done that before. But it didn’t stop there.

“Or you could have spun some vinyl, or popped in a cassette tape. Or, listened to an 8-track, if you even know what an 8-track tape looks like …”

And there you have it. Spotify has lumped radio into the category of outdated technology. We are an anachronism, a cute bygone item that is fit only for nostalgia geeks or as a set piece on Stranger Things. The problem here is that radio is portrayed as being old without being cool.

We can cite stat after stat about radio’s reach. About radio’s effectiveness as an advertising medium. How those generations targeted by the Spotify promo actually do listen to a decent amount of radio.

None of those matter because we are not “cool.” We are not the bright shiny object. We are perceived as being old and busted instead of the new hotness.

That is on us. We need to unite – as an industry – to change this perception. It has to start at the top and bubble up from the bottom. How do we do this? I have a few ideas but the discussion needs to start now.

We aren’t getting any younger.

Please share your take in the comments below.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant