Faced with platforms, music radio stations struggle but still remain important
Faced with the rise of Spotify, Deezer or YouTube Music, music radio stations are losing ground in France. However, they remain staples of the French musical landscape.
Music stations, which have been hit hard by declining radio audiences, remain important to the sector but must reinvent themselves in the face of competition from streaming platforms.
The youngest left in favor of YouTube, replaced in favor of bluetooth with Spotify or Deezer in the car… Music radio stations lost 1.2 million subscribers between the end of 2021 and the end of 2022, joining only 17.3. According to Médiamétrie, a million listeners daily.
France’s former premier radio station, NRJ, fooled over 300,000 listeners during the same period as Fun Radio and Skyrock 260,000. General manager Tristan Jurgensen told AFP that RTL 2 “uses a clear position and manages to retain 2.2 million pop-rock fans”.
AFP Stéphane Bosc, general manager of Lagardère’s music radio stations, points out that, in detail, the decline in audience “is quite a contrast between youth radio stations and radio stations that are more adult or youth oriented.” For him, appealing to “13-24 year olds is like fishing in a lake without fish” is Europe 2’s (ex-Virgin Radio) targeting of 25-49 year olds.
According to a recent report by the Syndicate of National Phonographic Publishers (Snap), “streaming” isn’t just attracting Generation Z, and its paid subscription formula is reportedly catching on among the over-35s.
According to the same source, audio and video platforms, with their playlists and recommendation algorithms, have even dethroned radio as the first source of music discovery for the first time, accounting for 48% of responses cited by the public surveyed. Radio.
The world of radio surprisingly prefers to highlight the figures of the 2022 Médiamétrie study, according to which the favorite media of the French remains the first in terms of prescription for 60% of respondents, well ahead of music streaming (20%) and video. Platforms like YouTube (28%).
“The platform is cold, the radio is hot,” says Stéphane Bosc, comparing platforms to jukeboxes. Like him, Maryam Salehi, head of NRJ Group, advocates the “human” added value of “local media,” while algorithms “cover their audience in already known or even boring territory.” Guillaume Piau, RTL 2 antenna director, “We bring a little surprise, we take into account the weather, the mood”.
In any case, radio remains an “extremely valuable partner for record companies” and a “complement” to broadcasting, explains Snap general manager Alexandre Lasch.
“Both are important to me,” says Vincent Frèrebeau, founder of independent label Tôt ou Tard, which produces Yael Naim or Vianney in particular.
An example is the success of Mentissa’s song “Et bam” with “Positive Exercise Phenomenon”. The higher you get on the radio, the higher the flow.”
“We have every interest in working together,” said Aurélien Herault, Deezer’s director of innovation, recalling that the platform broadcasts radio stations live. But the match is not held under equal conditions. Unlike platforms, radio stations are subject to quotas for French-language songs, recalls Maryam Salehi, calling for “loosening the regulatory noose”.
“Quotas are a bad fight,” replies Alexandre Lasch, two Frenchmen, Orelsan and Jul, who dominate sales in France.
“It’s important that radio continues to dig into the mystery of the recipe, it will stimulate public interest,” he said. “He has to play the novelty card to the full,” adds Vincent Frerebeau.
A century-old media, radio knows how to adapt and “does not remain inert”, Arcom member Hervé Godechot insists.
To challenge the giants of the network, digital terrestrial radio is proven by the combination of public and private radios within the DAB + or Radioplayer application.