Music apps play loud but fail to silence the Radio

The Buggles sang their hit song ‘Video killed the Radio star’ back in 1979, troubled as they were over the effects of technology. Little did they know that their worries would snowball only to become pocket-sized one day.

The growing popularity of music apps has once again triggered a debate on whether it is the beginning of the end for the good old radio. Yet, four decades since the song, the radio is far from being dead and continues to sing at its own frequency. Indians have always been passionate about their music. Our parents have listened to Ameen Sayani as religiously as we now rock our heads to the latest hip-hop and pop. But as they say, times they are a changing.

To get a sense of what Indians think about this age-old but renewed debate, Piplsay reached out to over 12000 people across the country with a quick survey and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

Radio holds its own and how

Music apps may be populating our smartphones these days but for more than half of those surveyed, radio also continues to be their source of music, though less pronounced. This trend is most prominent with over 60% respondents above the age of 25.

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Individually though, music app scores over the radio across all age groups mainly due to their portability and diverse content library. Youngsters, particularly in the age group of 18-34, are hooked to different music genres and prefer to have their kind of music at their fingertips.

Still, Radio is not tuning out anytime soon as shown by the Piplsay survey.

While many seem to think that the radio is nearing its end, an impressive number of people continue to believe that both radio and music apps will co-exist

Singing the Genx tune

Despite its strong base, radio seems to be losing out on the young crowd. In that, radio stations are caught in a catch 22 situation. Over the years, they have gone the extra mile to engage with their listeners, bringing in RJ’s who are young and peppy and dishing out a mixed bag of humor, emotion, updates, chat shows and even activism. But these very factors seem to be alienating the youth who increasingly prefer uninterrupted music.

Interestingly, North and West India with cities like Delhi and Mumbai with a huge student and working crowd feel this disconnect the most

Among the App users, 6 out of 10 respondents told Piplsay that they actually subscribe to music apps. This just goes to show that people are really particular about their music and don’t mind paying for it. People down South seem to be most generous with their pockets followed by those in the North.

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Clash of the Music Titans

The race to outdo one another is strong across both platforms. While radio channels are heavy on advertisements and properties, music apps come backed with global investments. Even regional FM stations, which have a dedicated listener-ship are caught up in this race as national networks join the fray with their own regional channels.

Overall, going by the Piplsay survey, Times group owned Radio Mirchi and music app Gaana lead across both platforms and by a significant margin


Both music sources have unique aspects that help them sing along. For radio which is a free medium, reach has never been a problem – first with radio sets and now with mobile phones with a built-in radio. The increasing mobile penetration is only helping it extend its frequency to the remotest corners in the country. Apps, on the other hand, come piggybacking on faster network speed and reduced data charges. They are like your personal jukebox except with unlimited songs and music that you can own.

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So in this fight between the selected and saved playlist, apps are definitely swinging the high notes while radio marches along the beat.

As for music lovers, the choice is theirs to make. The music meanwhile will continue to play.

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