The Fragmentation of the UK Radio Sector

I’ve yet to properly write about the recently published RAJAR report, Audio Time, based on the last MIDAS survey. That will come. But it does implicitly present some food for thought about the future of radio in the UK, identifying some of the threats it may face.

“Amongst 15-24s, the weekly reach of radio is very similar to the total population, but there is a clear
preference for online forms of audio – the most widely used being online music video on sites like YouTube.”

After last week’s RAJAR release, I highlighted some serious concerns about how much the amount of 15-24s listening to radio falling.

To overturn some of these trends is going to take something of a concerted effort from everyone in the radio industry. These aren’t trends that can be ignored because we can’t just expect people to discover radio when they get a bit older.

So it’s interesting at this point in time, to note how fractured UK radio actually is.

Obviously, I’m not talking about industry ownership. That’s more consolidated than ever, with Global and Bauer dominating, and the latter having just bought up Orion. But not everyone in radio is singing from the same hymn sheet.

The news that Global Radio has pulled its Patron support from the Radio Academy has, I fear, been a while in coming. For those who haven’t been following recent developments, in short the Radio Academy over-spent on major events like their Awards (aka the Sony Radio Awards) and the Radio Festival, and had to make nearly all its permanent staff redundant – with just a temporary CEO left in place.

The Radio Academy Awards were cancelled altogether – the last set of awards were in 2014, and there is currently no sign of a replacement despite promises of its return. A pretty dreadful state of affairs. If you make great radio, there’s nowhere for you to compete against all of your peers. It’s not just about having a shiny piece of perspex in a cabinet somewhere; award recognition can drive someone’s career.

Meanwhile, the Radio Festival was slimmed down and moved to London, and the organisation has been trying to reshape itself, although the recent news about Global’s withdrawal from the Radio Academy suggests that an overall appeasement has not reached. (It’s also worth reading what Paul Easton thinks about the situation and what it means for members like him.)

But beyond squabbles within the Radio Academy, if you look across the wider industry, these are not the only lines of disagreement:

  • Wireless Group, formerly UTV, pulled out of commercial radio’s trade body RadioCentre a few years ago now, as did UKRD. (As a consequence, neither enter the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards, even though the awards are now open to all commercial stations, regardless of RadioCentre membership.)
  • There are certainly differences of opinion over DAB and it took tortuous negotiations to agree a Memorandum of Understanding between commercial groups, the BBC and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. And you certainly won’t find uniform agreement about any kind of potential “switch-off” or “switchover” to a fully digital broadcasting solution. As we get closer to a symbolic 50% digital listening percentage, those differences in opinion will probably only widen
  • RadioPlayer is a joined up success and most stations have bought full into it. Yet visit some of Bauer’s sites (example link) and you still won’t get the universal player as you would with Global, the BBC and most other commercial stations, despite Bauer being a shareholder in the group as a result of its purchase of Absolute Radio.
  • The only real pan-radio group is RAJAR – everyone uses the same currency. Except, of course, some smaller commercial stations and most community stations, since RAJAR’s methodology would not satisfactorily measure these stations without increasing costs massively.

I should point out most people use RadioCentre’s Clearance services to ensure that advertising copy is fully complied, and pretty much all national radio advertising is scheduled via the JICRIT system for trading.

And of course an entire industry will never see eye to eye on everything – you wouldn’t expect any industry to do so. But radio, a medium now facing unparalleled challenges, really doesn’t present a particularly united front on anything.

Following Global’s withdrawal from the Radio Academy, On Twitter, I wondered, with my tongue only very slightly in my cheek, whether in fact Sound Women was now the de facto pan-industry radio group?

Sound Women of course has a specific set of aims and ambitions, notably: “to build the confidence, networking and leadership skills of women in audio.”

To those ends, they hold events and festivals, provide training, and including a regional programme.

They’re open to all – including men – and, at least at time of writing, I believe that they’re supported by most of the radio industry including Global, Bauer and the BBC, as well as several radio indies, Skillset, RadioCentre and Ofcom. Oh, and the Radio Academy!

I must confess that I’m not a member, in large part, I suspect, because I know I would feel like an usurper attending their events. I’m a white middle-class man after all.

(Aside: It’s perhaps also because my own bête noire is the representation of diversity in radio. It shouldn’t just be defined in terms of sex or ethnicity either. As I’ve argued before, social background is at least as important, because we’re not talking to our audience while our industry is predominantly middle-class. With so many routes to entry based around unpaid work experience, we’re effectively barring those without private incomes or who’s parents can’t support them.)

Sound Women is doing an excellent job in raising key issues about the gender imbalance in radio, audio, and indeed the wider media.

But beyond them, who’s looking after the rank and file of those who work in radio, audio and beyond? What’s the venue for sharing knowledge and learning from our peers? The Radio Festival and Hall of Fame are all very well, but only a minority get to attend. The Festival tends to be aimed at managerial types. Yes – that includes me. Meanwhile the Hall of Fame is somewhere to take your talent – or for the most senior people in your station to schmooze.

Regional Radio Academy events were open to all. Anyone could attend – even non-members for a small fee. You could learn, network and discuss relevant issues with your peers. For many members – most members? – these were the only things the Radio Academy directly offered them.

Is this being lost?

Now, if you work at a Global Radio station, you’ll need to personally spend at least £36 a year to get along to an event. That said prior to notification of the upcoming 30 Under 30 event, I honestly can’t remember the last time there was an event in London – and like it or not, that’s where the big groups, and a large proportion of Radio Academy members live and work. (Yes – I know that regional events have been rather better organised, with a number of events taking place recently).

One way or another, at a time when the medium is under attack from a variety of interlopers in the radio and audio world, the industry doesn’t appear to speak with a singular voice on pretty much anything. And now we’ve reached a point where there isn’t even a single representative organisation for everyone in radio.

This seems a pretty appalling state of affairs. Maybe I’m making it sound worse than it is, but you’re going to have to work to persuade me otherwise.

It seems that corporate differences, entrenched views and personal grievances have won the day. Will the all the UK’s commercial radio groups be sending delegates to the UK’s main radio conference later this year? Will they all speak at the event? Will talent regardless of station be eligible for the Hall of Fame? Perhaps the answer to all of these will in fact be ‘Yes.’ But these are awkward questions that we shouldn’t have to be asking.

Is it time to start afresh and do something different? Do we need something that is open to all without corporate involvement? Something for individuals and beyond the reach/interference of organisations? Of course doing something different will have costs, and that raises the question of funding. In many industries, corporate patronage is a key part of making these kinds of groups viable. Is that something we need to rethink in the future if at a corporate level, agreements can’t be reached?

Yes, there are independent operations – conferences like Next Radio (The 2016 conference has just been announced!) and Radiodays Europe. But they’re relatively few, and in the latter’s case, at nearly €1000 a delegate, few employees of stations are likely to dip into their own pocket to attend, meaning that you have to rely on your employer’s support.

I look slightly enviously at Television where the BAFTA Awards still happen – BBC; ITV; C4; Sky; Netflix; Amazon; everybody represented. There’s a conference in Edinburgh that anyone serious in the industry must attend. There are events for both BAFTA and Royal Television Society members. There’s a trade body that all the major commercial groups are members of.

I’m sure it’s not all perfect, and that there are differences between members. But it looks somewhat rosier than radio from where I’m sitting.

At a time when global giants like Apple and Google are investing ever more into audio, can UK radio be outward, joined-up and inclusive, rather than inward, fractured and narcissistic?

Watching European Football Finals on TV

Well the first results are in. BT is very pleased that BT Sport got a record audience on Wednesday night for the Europa League Final – the first big final of their three year exclusive contract for UEFA Champions’ League and Europa League coverage.

According to Media Guardian, it drew an average of 1.6m viewers on BT Sport Europe, and a further 606,000 viewers on BT Sport Showcase, giving a combined audience of 2.2m.

If you’d wanted to watch the game on Wednesday, then Virgin and Sky viewers could tune to BT Sport Europe which was unencrypted for the fixture meaning all could watch. If you were a Freeview viewer, then you could navigate your way to channel 59 where BT Sport Showcase mostly acts as a “barker” channel encouraging you to subscribe, but on Wednesday was showing the game.

When BT won the rights to these European games in 2013, it promised UEFA that each British team in the competitions would appear at least once free to air. And in the first season of the deal, they did all appear precisely once. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know when games are free to air, and although BT did do some marketing, you might have had to search.

Frankly I don’t believe the average viewer even knows BT Showcase exists, let alone that you could watch some football on the channel. And yes, I know BT did buy some advertising to promote the final including, for example, the back page of Metro on Wednesday.

When it came to the final, BT announced a deal that sees the games stream on YouTube too. Sensible, and it should be added that YouTube viewing is not included in that 2.2m. Be wary of any numbers you see banded around, as they’re unlikely to be directly comparable to the average audience figures that BARB publish. Nonetheless, YouTube does at least mean the game was accessible if you knew where to look, even if a mobile device is not the best way to watch football.

But you have to think that a match featuring a club the size of Liverpool would have achieved much greater viewing figures overall had it been free-to-air.

I dug into some old fixtures and came up with this list of performances over the last five Europea League finals.

DateTeamsResultChannelAudience (m)
18 May 2016Sevilla v Liverpool3-1BT Sport Europe/BT Showcase2.20
27 May 2015Sevilla v Dnipro3-2ITV40.80
14 May 2014Sevilla v Benfica0-0 (4-2 pens)ITV41.21
14 May 2013Chelsea v Benfica2-1ITV15.66
9 May 2012Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao3-0C51.46

Put into that context and 2.20m is pretty low. Yes – other games have had lower audiences, but then they weren’t exactly “must watch” for UK viewers.

When Chelsea was in the final in 2013 it was watched by 5.66m. Liverpool would probably have done better than that on ITV.

For what it’s worth, 885,000 people watched the highlights on ITV at 10.45 – around 1.5x the number who watched on BT Sport Showcase. How many didn’t even realise they could watch live?

There have been rumours that UEFA is unhappy with BT’s performance with their free-to-air games. It may be too late for this contract, but these low viewerships do affect the revenue UEFA brings in in sponsorship. But then BT is paying through the nose for exclusivity.

It should be said that these are overnights for this year, and might rise fractionally once delayed viewing is added – although it’d be a particular type of masochistic Liverpool fan who wanted to watch the game later. And I really have no idea how popular YouTube was.

The Champions’ League Final will be interesting to cast an eye over in a week or so. With no British club in it, the interest will be lower. But just how low will it be?

If I was BT I would have sub-licenced these games to ITV or C5. I’m sure some kind of a deal could have been done where the game was presented to audiences at “BT Sport on ITV” or some such thing. (ESPN uses this model with its sister network ABC in the US – although they’re obviously both Disney companies). ITV would generate much bigger ad revenues which could potentially be shared, UEFA is kept happy, and BT gets a free showcase to promote its ongoing coverage of the full competition next season.

RAJAR Q1 2016

RAJAR

Once again, this post is brought to you in association with RALF from DP Software and Services. I’ve used RALF for the past 9 years, and it’s my favourite RAJAR analysis tool. So I continue to be delighted to be able to bring you this analysis in association with them. For more details on RALF, contact Deryck Pritchard via this link or phone 07545 425677.

All views here are clearly my own!

It’s not the biggest station in the world, or indeed in London, but everyone is going to be curious how it did. In Tuesday night’s Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards, Radio X won the marketing award for its launch campaign. I don’t know how much Global spent on the campaign, but it must have been a healthy seven digits, and if it was aimed at someone like me – well their targeting worked, as I saw it repeatedly.

But how has that transferred into listeners?

Last time around, we only had London numbers which weren’t extraordinary to be honest. But now we have a national picture.

In overall terms, you might consider that Radio X is doing OK. It has a reach of 1.24m and 8.8m hours. They’re both records compared with the previous Xfm figures nationally, although that should be set against Radio X getting a D1 DAB slot, meaning that it was fully national. Xfm had to make do with a number of local DAB multiplexes.

In overall terms, then a positive results. But in London, the picture is pretty poor. A reach of 337,000 represents the lowest reach figure the station has had since Q2 1999 – obviously then under its previous guise of Xfm. I don’t think there’s any way of spinning this – it’s a very poor result. Hours are not quite so bad, down on recent quarters but up on the previous year. But that reach is worrying for Global.

In Manchester, the other place where Radio X has FM transmission, reach was 179,000 which is the lowest its been since Q1 2014. Again, hours are stronger.

So something of a mixed picture for the service.

Elsewhere, if you’re waiting for news of the new channels that have launched recently on D2, then you have another three months to discover how TalkRadio, the new Virgin Radio, TalkSport 2 and the rest are doing.

Overview

The overall All Radio picture remains decent, with listening remaining over 1 billion hours. But the commercial share of radio has slipped back from 44.0% to 43.1% – the BBC’s share increasing from 53.5% to 54.1% in the last quarter.

Average hours per listener remain at 21.0 overall, the same as last quarter, but still at an all-time low.

And yes, if we look at 15-24s, the youngest age group that RAJAR reliably measures, there are some worrying records. Only 84% of this group listen to the radio (although it has been as low as 83%), but they listen for 95m hours – a new low – and spend an average 14 hours a week listening to the radio – also a new low.

There are some challenges here.

Let’s go through network by network

Radio 1 is unlikely to be happy with a quarter that saw its reach drop below 10m again. Reach is down 4.1% on the quarter, although 2.1% up on last year, to 9.907m. But the real story is in hours, where it has a new record low of 56,780,000. That’s down 8.3% on last quarter and down 12.9% on last year. Radio 1 listeners now listen for an average of 5.7 hours a week when once it was closer to 10.

Radio 2 had an excellent quarter with reach creeping up to 15.5m, while hours leapt to a new all-time record of 187m. Put another way, that’s 18.6% of all radio listening (aka market share). Its listeners spend 12.1 hours a week with the service.

Radio 3 has seen some of its best figures in quite a while, up 3.2% on the quarter and 1.6% on the year, it’s hours have grown even more. It now reaches 2.117m, its best result since 2013.

Radio 4 had a so-so quarter, with reach down 3.3% on the quarter and down 2.9% on the year. Hours were similarly down, but the station is listened to for 11.5 hours a week. (For what it’s worth, The Archers were down a little this quarter to 4.7m across its various Radio 4 outings!)

Five Live possibly benefited from an incredible Premier League season as Leicester never faltered. Its reach was up 3.4% on the quarter to 5.774m while hours were also up.

Absolute Radio followed up Tuesday night’s Station of the Year award with a very good set of results – the best since it rebranded from Virgin Radio in 2008. Reach was up 2.2% on the quarter and 9.3% on the year, with hours seeing even better improvements up 14.5% on the quarter and 8.4% on the year.

Classic FM has had a very poor quarter, down more than 7% in reach on both the quarter and the year, with even worse performances in hours, it has achieved its lowest reach and hours since the new methodology began in 1999, with 5.1m reach and 32.5m hours. However it’s worth remembering that Classic FM remains two and a half times the size of Radio 3.

TalkSport also seemed to benefit from the Premier League title run-in, with a modest quarter on quarter increase of 0.9%, but a larger increase in listening, up 2.1%.

The BBC World Service saw a small dip this quarter, down 2.7% in reach, but up 8.4% on the year. Listening hours are well up however.

Digital

Digital Listening is worth examining this quarter because RAJAR has removed – or rather, modelled out – unspecified platform listening. There was always previously a small rump of listeners who either didn’t know what platform they were listening to, or who just failed to record it.

What that means is that there have been a few jumps this quarter. Digital listening rises to 44.1% – inching ever closer to the majority of listening – although since this is a post-Christmas quarter and DAB sets get given as gifts, you might expect that to happen anyway. However that modelling does also mean that AM/FM listening rises slightly too.

And if you look within that digital listening this does also mean that Internet listening has reached a high of 7.8% of all listening.

And 63.7% of all radio listeners spend at least some of their time listening via digital platforms.

(Update: Since Phil Riley asked me, here is the position with AM/FM listening. 55.9% of listening is now AM/FM. This is up from last quarter when it was 50.7%, partially because of the modelling of unspecified listeners I mentioned above. However a good number of people still listen to at least some of their output in analogue. 75.4% of the population (or 84.5% of radio listeners) spend at least a little time on AM/FM. I would suspect that the car is a major place for this.)

6 Music has set new records – I feel like I’ve typed those words before. It’s reach is up 1.5% on the quarter (and 8.3% on the year) to 2.236m, a new record high. Listening hours are also up to a record high of 20,954,000. 6 Music listeners hear the station for 9.4 hours a week now.

Absolute 80s has had another massive quarter with its biggest ever reach of 1.72m up 9% on the quarter and 19% on the year. Hours are down a fraction however, and of course it has now moved off D1 to D2 – which means fewer people can listen to the service. It could well fall next quarter which would be a real shame.

Radio 4 Extra has slipped back a little this quarter from some recent highs. It’s not clear what’s happened, but it’s down 12.4% on the quarter and 14.8% on the year. It’s similarly down in listening hours.

LBC is obviously on FM in London, but available nationally digitally, and it has just had its best ever results with a reach of 1.54m (up 7.0% on the quarter), and 15.241m hours (up 8.1% on the quarter). It’ll be interesting t see what, if any, effect TalkRadio has on LBC next time around, but they’re clearly flying right now.

1Xtra crept up over the 1m reach again, while Kisstory had another good quarter, up a little to 1.441m. Capital Xtra was also up to a new high of 1.202m.

Absolute Radio 90s had its best ever reach of 681,000, while Absolute Radio 70s was down very slightly to 285,000.

Jazz FM – back on national DAB from next quarter’s results – had a steady quarter, up slightly in reach to 506,000 but down in hours.

And it’s always entertaining to see that The Hits is still reported. It has 693,000 listeners down nearly 15% on the quarter. I know it essentially delivers the Bauer City 3 network, but it’s not actually on any platforms aside from Freeview and the internet!

Networks and Groups

BBC Radio is basically flat on the quarter overall, with fractional changes. The same is true comparing year on year, with no change in reach, and a modest 1.7% fall in hours.

Global Radio (based on the stations they own rather than those they sell or the brands they licence), is very slightly down on the quarter (1.1% down in reach, 2.3% down in hours), but decently up on the year.

Bauer Radio (including Orion which they recently purchased, but for whom they’d been selling nationally previously) are up in reach (0.8%) but down in hours (-0.3%). Again it’s a better result on the year.

Finally, Wireless Group (previously known as UTV Radio until the sold the “TV” part of the business to ITV) saw some falls, down a fraction in reach on the quarter but down 2.7% in hours. On the year, the falls are more significant, down 6.9% in reach and 13.1% in hours. Obviously they have a host of new national services that’ll be included in next quarter’s results.

Looking more broadly at some of the networks, the Magic network increased a little to 3.434m ahead of its new services being added into the mix next quarter. Meanwhile the Smooth Network came down a little after last quarter’s record levels.

The Capital Brand achieved its highest ever reach of 8.162m up a little on last quarter. Hours are down a touch however. And the Heart Network was down a little off its record high to 9.014m, again ahead of its spin-off brand being included next quarter.

The Kiss Network performed very strongly – just short of the record it set six months ago.

Finally, the Absolute Radio Network was down a fraction on the quarter (down 0.7%) but well up on the year (11.9%) in terms of reach.

London

The first thing to say about London is that radio listening is down in the capital – quite substantially. Reach has fallen 2.7% on the last quarter, while hours have dropped 5.0%. Year on year, listening is up, but we continue to see some odd shifts in London that frankly, I wouldn’t expect to see.

So Capital has done very indeed – up a massive 10% in reach and 11% in hours (and up mre than a quarter on both measures, year on year). It’s easily the biggest commercial station in London in terms of reach.

However Heart grabs the hours crown amongst commercial stations – despite seeing its reach fall 14%, it managed to increase its hours by 4.6% on the quarter. I’m afraid I can’t explain that. Lots of people stopped listening, but those who stayed more than made up for it in terms of hours? Average hours for the station jumped from 5.1 to 6.0 in one quarter.

Meanwhile Kiss saw its reach flat in London, but hours fell by 15%. Another very curious result.

LBC is another station that saw a slight fall in reach (down 3.8%), but a massive fall in hours (down 17.4%) on the quarter.

Magic experienced a more standard pattern, being down in reach and hours (9.2% and 15.2% respectively on the quarter).

Absolute Radio was another oddity – down 6.4% in reach, yet up 22% in hours. Year on year figures were more consistently down 18% and 12% respectively.

We’ve already mentioned Radio X, so let’s draw a veil over lines on a spreadsheet that show results down about a third in reach and hours on the quarter.

Smooth could probably be said to have done well being down a little in reach but flat in hours.

That couldn’t be said for BBC Radio London down a third in reach and nearly 20% in hours on the quarter.

Incidentally – the youngest commercial station in London? Capital Xtra. But they had a disappointing quarter in the capital too, quarter on quarter, down 3.7% in reach and down nearly 10% in hours.

And because I’m a little obssessed about younger listeners, here’s a chart showing average listening hours amongst that age group falling over time in London.

Breakfast

Breakfast is the bread and butter of radio. 86% of radio listeners listen at breakfast – that is Mon-Fri between 0600 and 0900. The peak radio listening moment tends to be about 8am on a weekday.

Listening hours at breakfast account for 23.4% of all radio listening – a big chunk all things considered.

So I was interested to have a look at some overall breakfast listening trends, since it’s such a critical part of the day.

As of Q1 2016, 76.4% of the adult population listen to breakfast radio. A pretty good result, although it’s down from about 80% from five years ago. And you can see from the chart below that this does seem to be a bit of a trend.

If you look at 15-24s it falls from just over 70% to 63.3% today.

My question then is this: are we still providing the right mix of things people want at breakfast?

Obviously the smartphone has come along and is able to give us news, sport, weather, traffic and social media. Many of those things were – and are – radio staples. So what’s radio’s unique proposition? What can it do to maintain audiences and stop them departing from breakfast radio?

As for some national shows themselves?

As with the station overall, it’s not been a great quarter for Grimmy, down 7.4% in reach on the quarter, although only down 1.1% on the year. He now has 5.4m listeners.

Chris Evans on Radio 2 has – if not quite a record audience – then a very good one. He’s listened to by 9.7m people each week, up 3.1% on the quarter and 2.8% on the year.

Across the Absolute Radio Network, Christian O’Connell has his best audience ever, just short of 2m listeners, and up 4.7% on the quarter and 21% on the year. He also won big on Tuesday at the Arqiva Awards.

On TalkSport, Alan Brazil has 1.239m listeners, down a little on the quarter (-4.3%) and more heavily on the year (-16.6%). Again this reflects the overall station performance.

And Chris Moyles has 784,000 listeners which is up 16% from the previous quarter, and nearly double what Xfm was doing the year before. You would imagine that getting over 1m listeners is within reach for him.

Average Ages

Finally, we often talk about “average age” and invariably we get a mean figure which hides a lot of light and dark. So I thought it might be interesting to look at the distribution of reach by age across a number of stations.

So while the average age of a Radio 1 listener is 35, the modal age (i.e. the biggest single age) is actually 24 which is where the peak on the chart below is. Average ages get skewed by, for example, a handful of 88 year olds who just won’t let go of Radio 1 (or are forced to listen to it by their grandchildren!).

Interestingly, Radio 2 has peaks in a couple of places – between 48 and 52, and 64-69. However this is probably more to do with population demographics than anything. The latter are baby boomers for example.

The other stations are slightly lost on this scale, so here’s a second version of the chart rescaled a bit.

Because these stations are bit smaller, the charts get messier (RAJAR isn’t really designed to be looked at this way), but you can see Absolute’s peak at 34, and TalkSport’s a bit older.

Further Reading

For more RAJAR analysis, I’d recommend the following sites:

The official RAJAR site and their infographic is here
Radio Today for a digest of all the main news
Go to Media.Info for lots of numbers and charts
Paul Easton for more lots analysis including London charts (on his redesigned blog
Matt Deegan will have some great analysis
Media Guardian for more news and coverage
The BBC Mediacentre for BBC Radio stats and findings
Bauer Media’s site.
Global Radio’s site.

Source: RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB, period ending 3 April 2016, Adults 15+.

Disclaimer: These are my views alone and do not represent those of anyone else, including my employer. Any errors (I hope there aren’t any!) are mine alone. Drop me a note if you want clarifications on anything. Access to the RAJAR data is via RALF from DP Software as mentioned at the top of this post.

Live Football on the Radio

DSC_0007

No, I’m not writing about the new Premier League contracts for UK radio. They do seem a bit overdue though, and I’m slightly sad that Absolute Radio has made clear that it’s not bidding for live coverage from next season. So I expect some kind of carve up between Five Live and Talksport, with Talksport 2 perhaps getting the Absolute Radio second choice 3pm on a Saturday while they do “around the grounds” on the main service.

Anyway, we’ll wait and see.

No, I thought I’d write about a couple of my experiences of the (almost) final day of the Premier League this season. As ever, all the games kick off simultaneously at 3pm. Sky Sports tend to show about three of the games live on TV, while Five Live and Absolute Radio each broadcast a game on the radio.

I was at Arsenal’s final game of the season against Aston Villa. While most of the league had been decided, there was still a small chance that if Spurs failed to get a draw away against an already-relegated Newcastle, and Arsenal beat bottom-of-the-table and also already-relegated Aston Villa, then we’d finish ahead of them for the 21st season in a row.

Small consolation for underachieving in a very a hit and miss season that had season 5000-1 shots Leicester storm away with the title, but these things matter in North London.

There was also a small chance for Man Utd to just pip Man City to final Champions’ League spot. This was the fixture that TV and radio was most interested in. Gaining that spot makes a massive difference to the clubs involved.

So I brought my Pure Move 2500 DAB radio with me to listen at the game – primarily to discover what was happening at St James’ Park where Spurs were playing.

Now you might think that in this day and age, we’ve moved on from radio, and mobile websites and apps are where it’s all at. I could even stream Sky Sports on my phone with Sky Go.

Well that’s fine in principle, but have you tried to get mobile data in a venue with 60,000 other people? Let me tell you that it doesn’t matter who your operator is, or what kind of 4G they’re offering, you’re going to struggle to send a text or update Twitter. Unusually, we were sitting quite high up in the stadium and could probably “see” mobile masts from further afield, but data was a struggle.

So for the first half I put a headphone in my ear from time to time to see what was happening. Obviously there was confused news from Old Trafford where a security alert would lead to the game against Bournemouth being cancelled (It was later reported to be a dummy device that had been mistakenly left in the stadium after a private security company had conducted a test. I imagine heads will roll.)

Arsenal scored early to go 1-0 up, and I knew that Newcastle were leading against Spurs. Things were looking good. But it wouldn’t take much for Spurs to get an equaliser. I took my headphones out to be sociable.

When midway through the first half, the crowd roared, I knew that meant another goal had gone in for Newcastle. I popped my headphones back in and when Five Live threw to the Emirates, they reported that the crowd here had cheered the second Newcastle goal.

Then the presenters got a little supercilious. They noted that Five Live had reported the goal a good thirty seconds or more prior to that. Was technology actually slowing things down? With everyone using apps to get the score, they were doing so on a larger than necessary delay? The old-fashioned “wireless” was faster!

They had a point. We were getting our information slower. So for the second half, I didn’t remove my headphone.

Arsenal were still only 1-0 up, and although dominating, had not scored a second goal for safety. Meanwhile Spurs had got a goal back, and now Newcastle were down to 10 men. This wasn’t good news. It didn’t matter what the Arsenal result was if Spurs gained a draw. We’d finish behind them.

Then the crowd roared again. It was 3-1!

Except, I’d heard no such thing on Five Live. But the joyous guys in front were pointing at the goal on the BBC Sport app. On the radio, Five Live was confirming the Man Utd game to be off, talking about other games, and not mentioning Newcastle.

Finally they reported that there was a penalty at Newcastle and crossed to the game. We then got [delayed] commentary of the goal. It was indeed 3-1.

But that had taken a full minute or more to report.

Given the comments earlier, they couldn’t complain about fans using apps, while they were not instantly reporting goals!

Yes – it was a potentially very serious situation in Old Trafford where the bomb squad had been called to check a device that we now know was safe. But it’s probably not best to pipe up about how good radio is when it actually wasn’t nearly as fast as other means.

It was about then that I realised I was listening to the wrong station. BBC London carries a lot of Spurs games, so I retuned and listened to the rest of the Newcastle game enthralled, as Spurs collapsed and the commentators could hardly believe what they were seeing.

I was able to relay 4-1 and then 5-1 scorelines in rapid succession to those sitting around me – far faster than anybody else!

So yes, radio can be the fastest. But don’t oversell yourselves…

That all said, if any of the big Euro’s games go to penalties, switch on the radio. Things like HD encoding and satellite delays mean that you’ll hear the results on the radio a good 3-5 seconds ahead of television, even on DAB. So you’ll be put out of your misery faster!

And of course you should still always carry a radio to the final game of the season.

Leading Questions

These are my own views, and do not represent those of my employer. Now we’ve got that out of the way, we’ll continue.

It’s fairly understood that depending on how you ask a research question, you can get different answers. In research terminology, questions that can elicit a particular response are called “leading questions.”

You see the same things in legal dramas all the time: “Objection Your Honour! The prosecutor is leading the witness!”

SurveyMonkey published a great blog on the problem last year with some good examples of leading questions:

“How short was Napolean?” rather than “How would you describe Napolean’s height?”

“Should concerned parents use infant car seats?” rather than “Do you think special car seats should be required for infant passengers?”

Sometimes leading questions can appear by accident, or through poor phraseology by whoever’s asking the questions. But other times, it’s deliberate. Perhaps a particular answer is being sought, and the research just has to back up a pre-determined view.

This week saw the publication of the White Paper on the future of the BBC under a new Charter.

Now I don’t propose to write too much about that here – it could all get a little heated and contentious. Buy me a pint or get me a cuppa if you want to know my views. But I do want to highlight some of the research that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published alongside the White Paper.

While research is always useful for a major piece of Government legislation, and indeed a research-based approach to legislation would be welcome, it was curious that the research that was commissioned was conducted in the first quarter of 2016 after nearly 193,000 consultation responses, 9,000 Radio Times responses (once the DCMS asked for the password), more than 300 industry experts and organisations had been consulted, and 9 industry round tabels had taken place.

Charter Review Timeline

But nobody can complain about additional research can they?

Well, up to a point Lord Copper.

Take this example question:

Local regional national

(The colours from left to right represent: Completely agree, Agree strongly, Agree slightly, Neither agree nor disagree, Disagree slightly, Disagree strongly, Completely disagree, Don’t know)

The question implicitly infers that because the BBC has radio stations, then commercial radio stations will not be able to get an audience. It’s binary. You either listen to the BBC or commercial radio. You can’t possibly listen to both.

That’s not an egregiously bad question, but it’s certainly poorly framed.

There are questions asked where it’s frankly impossible for a member of the public to fully know the answer. For example, is the BBC spending licence fee money efficiently?

Unless you work within the media sector, you probably don’t actually have much knowledge of this. Indeed, even within the BBC, you might need to be in finance to have a true picture.

You may have a perception of how efficient the BBC is with its money, but that might be tainted by anti-BBC press reports for example. Perception is important of course, but we need to be clear that’s what we’re measuring.

If your view on efficiency is based on disliking how much prize money is awarded on Pointless (a relatively trivial part of a single programme’s budget compared with studio and staff hire, etc), then you’re not really answering the question properly.

Distinctiveness is a key word in this charter. Some variant of this word is used 155 times in the White Paper by my count.

But how do you determine distinctiveness? Seemingly, you just ask.

Here are a pair of questions again about radio:

Radio Distinctiveness

And again they’re very leading. The questions infer the answer in the way they’re asked. The first questions seems to saying, “Radio 1 and Capital/Absolute are the same aren’t they?”

In spite of that, most people don’t actually know, because most people don’t listen to Radio 1. Now 10m people a week do listen, but 43m people don’t. The question wasn’t just asked of Radio 1 listeners, or Radio 1 listeners who also listen to Absolute Radio or the Capital Network. That would be a sensible thing to ask, since those people would actually be able to discern the differences. So the answers again come down to perception, perhaps based on no knowledge of the stations at all. And when does perception become prejudice?

The same of course applies to the Radio 2 question, comparing it with Heart and Magic. It’s asked of everyone regardless of their listening habits.

And of course all of this is before the reality of the differences between the services – a quick look at CompareMyRadio can help here on the simplest level – the range and overlap of music played by different services.

Now to be fair, I think most of the questions in this questionnaire were actually fine, and the results are pretty consistent with other responses. But when you see a few questions like that sticking out, it does make you ask deeper questions about the whole process. And when those findings are then used to frame key parts of the White Paper, you only question the process even more.

The End of Digital Downloads?

That’ll teach me for writing this too quickly. I based this on a Digital Music News report which was published Wednesday evening UK time. A few hours later, and ReCode was reporting that Apple is planning no such thing. Of course plans change all the time, and record labels can get angry. So who knows what the truth of it was. But I think the piece stands either way.

On Sunday, after a week or so teasing the internet by turning their website to pure white and closing various accounts, Radiohead released their new album, A Moon Shaped Pool. I was able to head off to their website and buy a download instantly.

I’d given Radiohead some money – cutting out middlemen retailers as it happens – and they’d given me some files that, as long as I’m careful, will be playable for years to come.

This is essentially the same kind of transaction I’ve been conducting when I buy music, since I was a child.

But we are in the early 21st century, and it’s all about streaming. So if I hadn’t chosen to spend £9, how else could I have listened? Well, there’s Apple Music or Tidal. The new album is available to stream on both platforms.

Notably though, it’s not on Spotify.

No skin off my nose, as I don’t pay for a premium Spotify subscription, and only every rarely listen to the free service.

But if I was a different – probably younger – listener, I might be a bit miffed. Because if I have a Spotify subscription, I’m unlikely to have either an Apple Music or Tidal subscription as well. Why would you pay twice for access to the same music?

And therein lies my problem with streaming services – they don’t always deliver. Indeed, Radiohead has reportedly been removing some of their other music from Spotify as rights return from their old label to the band itself.

So in that context it was interesting to read a report that suggests that Apple will phase out digital download sales from iTunes within the next two years. The US and UK are likely to be first!

[Update: Apple has quickly denied that it is planning to stop selling downloads according to ReCode.]

The thinking is this:

  • Download sales peaked a couple of years ago and are now falling.
  • In their place is rapdily growing subscription revenue, so why maintain a dual economy?

The article also mentions some Apple specific issues around matching music incorrectly, and “orphan tracks.” Those are a bit of a red herring though since they’re software issues that Apple could quite easily solve if it really wanted to.

iTunes Song Downloads

If download sales are in decline, then why should Apple bother continuing to support them?

But look at this larger picture chart of music industry revenues:

Infographic: Rise of Digital Music Stops the Industry's Decline | Statista

While digital overtakes physical, it doesn’t show a healthy overall picture, and that’s because streaming revenues don’t make up for losses from physical and downloads. Growth is actually coming from other revenue areas.

Special offers aside, the cost to a consumer of a streaming subscription is $120/£120 pa. Yet the average amount spent by British consumers on music currently is less than £40 a year.

By removing the option to buy, Apple is banking on a good number of current downloaders stepping up to become subscribers, yet for the “average” person, that involves a 200% increase in their music spending!

Well, good luck with that.

But my main issue is the one that I started with. Music rental removes my control over my music.

  • If EMI goes out of business tomorrow, my EMI CDs are still safe.
  • If Radiohead decides it doesn’t want to be on Spotify, my Radiohead CDs and downloads remain available to me.
  • If Spotify goes bust, I still have access to my music library.
  • If Apple Music puts its subscription rates up tomorrow, and I can’t afford the new price, I can still listen to all the music I own today.

It’ll be interesting to see how the music industry reacts to this story.

Podcasting: Data/Tech Improvements or Leave Alone?

A couple of interesting pieces on the development of podcasts, and Apple’s role, have been published recently and thought worth thinking aloud about (that’s effectively what my blog is – me thinking aloud).

The New York Times published a piece that suggests major podcasting groups have been talking to Apple asking for extra functionality from them – in particular access to data, but also the ability to better promote podcasts.

Meanwhile Marco Arment challenges the NYT, and argues that podcasting is better off as it is now.

I do understand Arment’s perspective. He argues that Apple has actually been pretty open – for example providing an iTunes API that lets apps like PocketCasts use the iTunes directory to find podcasts.

And he takes a certain purist view that the current way things work is fine. Anyone can make a podcast, submit it to stores like iTunes, and host the podcast wherever they like.

Podcasts are simple mp3 files, playable in a vast range of apps, and on a multitude of devices.

I understand all that, and yet…

The main thing the unnamed podcasters seem to be asking Apple for is more access to data. At the moment, data is very low-level and actually quite hard.

Assuming your host is capable of supplying information, the best it can really tell you about how your podcast has performed is the number of times it was downloaded (although what about partial downloads?), the IP address of the downloader (therefore some idea of location), and the platform it was downloaded by.

And that’s basically it, unless the podcast is listened to via a specific third party app.

Now I do agree that I don’t especially like the idea of Apple dictating terms of podcasting. Apple has a built in advantage in podcasting that the two articles suggest leads to around 65%-70% of the market being on Apple devices. (I suspect that’s the US market, and believe ex-US Apple may have a higher share).

While Google has soft-launched podcasting in the US via its Google Play Music app, and there are plentiful excellent Android podcast apps, the market is massively skewed towards Apple compared with overall device ownership. In any case, I’m not sure that Google has yet shown the desire to truly push podcasting as a platform.

For better or worse, Google Play Music is not every Android owner’s default audio app, and so Google doesn’t have the same power that Apple has by pre-installing a non-removable podcasting app on every Apple device.

I’m not saying anything new here, but to re-iterate previous blogs, I do think podcasting needs some work. The status quo works at an enthusiast level, but doesn’t really work for those who want to build a stronger commercially viable medium. So there are things that need “fixing” with podcasts:

1. Data

Sorry, but it’s needed. If you’re hosting your own podcast for fun, as an enthusiast or for your own pleasure, then fine. But if you’re trying to produce podcasts as a business – and they’re a form of media, so this is totally legitimate – then you need some data.

Beautifully constructed, heavily produced podcasts with excellent production values take time and money to make. In any other part of the creative industries, there’s a means to earning if you’re good enough and enough people love what you do. Podcasting needs to be no different.

Now Apple handing some more data over probably doesn’t cut it. They may still represent the majority of listening, but that should decline over time, and mean that a broader form of data is required.

That said, Apple almost certainly does know how consumers are listening to podcasts including metrics like whether a downloaded podcast was actually listened to, how much of the podcast was listened, were pre/mid-roll ads heard, and so on.

Does providing data run the risk of decreasing diversity? Actually I don’t think so. Sure, a big network like Panoply or Gimlet may decide to ditch certain types of offerings and change direction to the mass market, but that shouldn’t affect what everyone else makes. These are businesses that have to make returns to their backers or else they go under. They have to work within the advertising market place. If they don’t, they go away and we lose their podcasts.

I would look at something like YouTube to prove that a platform can be completely open to all, even if there is strong underlying data. I upload a drone video I made to YouTube and do it for the fun of it. I make no money; I expect no money. Perhaps I hit lucky with one my videos and it becomes a viral hit. There’s a mechanism that allows me to prosper a little should I choose. And then at the other end I might strike it lucky, become a YouTuber, and earn a decent crust on the platform (highly unlikely, I realise). I can use the platform for promotion.

YouTube isn’t directly analogous. It’s a closed Google-owned platform. But there’s little to stop me uploading my own work to YouTube as much as I like, incorporating a number of different commercial business models should I choose to.

Look – I know as much as anyone that much digital data is flawed, misleading or downright wrong. Data is open to manipulation, and advertising agencies are still too in awe of it. But if I buy an ad in just about any medium, the least I can aspect is you to provide me with details of who had an opportunity to hear, watch or see the ad.

Data is necessary. But it’s needed across the piece, and I’m not sure how that would work across multiple platforms. To be treated seriously by advertisers you need some data. Every advertising medium offers data, and podcasting can’t be an exception. Of course if you don’t take advertising from advertising agencies, then this perhaps isn’t an issue to you. But I’m not sure it

2. Promotion

If you’re launching a new podcast, you may be really up against it.

If you’re an existing podcast publisher, then you promote your new podcast on your existing programme. You might mention it lots, run promotional spots for it, or even include an episode in the RSS feed of your podcast. But if your new podcast is aimed at a different audience to the one your current podcast appeals to, this doesn’t really work.

If you’re a big media organisation – a radio station or web publisher – then you can promote across your own platform.

Seemingly a major issue with the big podcasting companies is that promotion on iTunes – still the best way to drive new listeners to a podcast – is at the whim of a single person in the US iTunes Store. Others are in charge of their national/regional stores.

Now podcasters may be treating those individuals as restaurateurs treat celebrity reviewers – “Pick me! Pick me! Write nice things about me!” – but surely the major issue is that we need more avenues to promote podcasts. And critically, there need to be methods to subscribe in a simpler manner. I really shouldn’t have to copy an RSS feed from a web page and paste it into a box in my podcasting software. But that’s what I have to do…

3. Android

As I’ve said again and again, it’s ridiculous that Apple has such a hold over podcasting when so many more devices are Android. You can buy a $50 Android phone that’s capable of playing podcasts, but have to pay 8 times that for a new Apple device. Look beyond the coasts of the US, and the metropolitan centres of Western Europe. There’s a massive market to reach – whoever your podcast is targeted towards.

Apple is not going to provide all the solutions, and more importantly, it shouldn’t provide them.

Yes – Apple has the whip hand now, but that’s not a sustainable position for a medium that is actually technology neutral.

4. Technology

Not really mentioned here, but perhaps underlying everything, is whether we need a kind of “Podcast 2.0” format – something that offers better data about whether a podcast was listened to and who listened to it. There are talked about hackabouts that sort of let you do things with mp3s, but they tend to work hidden pixels and the like. But an RSS feed is structurally limiting.

What I am certain is that I don’t want to see us go down a bespoke private networks route. Podcasting is a very open platform.

But as the web has developed, so do podcasts. Like many others, I don’t want podcasters to know my name and address, unless I choose to provide them (e.g. on a subscription basis). But I know that the medium is limited without some developments.

Summary

I don’t want to destroy an ecosystem that allows anyone to make a popular audio piece and serve it to millions of people around the world. It’s brilliant that anyone can produce a podcast on just about any subject and it can be made available to all. But I’m not sure that anything I hear stops or prevents this. Data and technology move hand in hand, and while Apple can help, it shouldn’t be the be all and end all. It’s worth remembering that podcasting extends well beyond the US!

Elsewhere: read this week’s Hot Pod on this whole issue.

YouTube v Radio

Since Phil Riley, Chairman of Orion Media, suggested it, I thought I’d have a look at what’s happening here.

YouTube has just published a strong blogpost penned by Christophe Muller, Head of YouTube International Music Partnerships, essentially defending their payment structure to musicians, saying that they do compensate rights holders fairly, and that perhaps radio should take a closer look at itself.

I think it’s a slightly scatter-gun argument, so it’s perhaps worth examining the various elements of what Muller is talking about.

But first a bit of background. What you need to know is that Universal, Sony and Warners, three of the major record labels, all have upcoming renegotiations of their agreements with YouTube.

YouTube is also phenomenally successful. It offers a simple, free, proposition for consumers to listen to music. Some reports suggest that more music is listened to on YouTube than Spotify and Apple Music combined. Users can build playlists, and plenty use the video streaming site as a de facto audio streaming site, not actually watching the videos all the time.

According to the FT:

Last October, Jimmy Iovine, the head of Apple Music — and the former chief executive of Interscope Records — told the Vanity Fair New Establishment conference that YouTube was responsible for 40 per cent of all music consumption but generated only 4 per cent of the industry’s revenues.

Set against YouTube are the paid-for streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. These pay more to the labels, but there’s a limit on who’s willing to pay for such services.

Spotify recently said it had 30m paid for users, while Apple Music has reached 13m. But those numbers are drops in the ocean compared to the wider music-consuming marketplace. Those are global numbers, yet more people listen to music radio in the UK in a given week than those two combined.

Of course, there are many more paid-for services, but it puts these numbers into perspective.

And with YouTube having over a billion users, it’s estimated that as much as 35% of its traffic is music.

With physical sales and downloads declining in revenue, the only real growth for pre-recorded music (I’m excluding “live”) is coming from those subscription services. So the labels are obviously looking at YouTube and thinking that it’s not paying its way.

That explains why YouTube is coming out on the defensive. But what about the radio charges?

Like radio, YouTube generates the vast majority of our revenue from advertising. Unlike radio, however, we pay the majority of the ad revenue that music earns to the industry. Radio, which accounts for 25 percent of all music consumption in the US alone and generates $35 billion of ad revenue a year, pays nothing to labels and artists in countries like the U.S. In countries like the UK and France where radio does pay royalties, we pay a rate at least twice as high.

I’m not going to defend the US rights situation. I do think it’s iniquitous. But it’s worth noting that US broadcast radio does pay the songwriters. It’s the performers who don’t get paid. And it’s also worth noting that performers are compensated on satellite radio and on streaming services such as Pandora.

Beyond that, it’s worth noting that the share of revenues that artists, songwriters and labels get, is something else entirely. When you hear about an artist receiving a cheque for a relative pittance from Spotify plays, it’s worth examining what Spotify actually paid out, and how much – or little – of that found its way to the artist.

But with radio, the truth is that it does provide valuable promotion. Simply put, if radio was just leeching off the music industry, then why would labels work hard to employ pluggers, send their biggest stars to do interviews and to a greater than ever extent, agree to often appear at stations’ events – e.g. Radio 1’s Big Weekend or Capital’s Summertime Ball.

As for the charge that YouTube pays music rights at a higher rate than radio? Guilty as charged. But there is a mighty difference between radio and YouTube. Radio selects what it plays, and listeners get little choice in the matter – tuning in to hear the tracks in the order the station has determined.

Radio certainly is a promotional vehicle in that you don’t get precisely what you want when you want it. On the other hand, you’re introduced to music and discover music as a result of radio.

If I want to hear some Bruce Springsteen right now, I could turn on Radio 2 or Absolute Radio, and perhaps, after several hours of listening, it’s just possible that I’ll hear a single track.

YouTube on the other hand is an on-demand service. It’s like Spotify in that regard. You choose what you want to listen to. If I want to hear Bruce Springsteen, I can cue up most of his biggest hits before you’ve finished reading the end of this sentence.

YouTube, as with Spotify, is used as a direct replacement for buying music. Radio exists alongside as it has always done. There are more stations available, but actually less time being spent per person listening to the radio. Radio shouldn’t be considered the “villain” of this piece from the music industry’s perspective.

Let’s get back to that YouTube piece:

Instead of talking about a “value gap,” we should be focusing on a “value shift;” if the ad revenue currently spent on radio instead flowed to online platforms, it would double the current size of the music business.

Well good luck with that. A couple of days ago, the Advertising Association in the UK announced the value of advertising in the UK. Advertising in the UK has now reached £20bn of which £8.6bn is spent on the internet (43%). Compare this with £592m or 3% of advertising spend on radio.

I’m not sure quite how much money YouTube would to see further “shift” from radio to the internet.

Yes, I realise that they were thinking of the US market where radio gets closer to 10% of the ad spend, while TV is still bigger than digital (at least, it was predicted to be at the start of 2015). But there as everywhere else, digital will take a larger bite of the advertising pie, at the expense of “traditional” media including radio.

I think Muller is driving at the idea that £1 spent on radio advertising delivers less to music rights holders, than £1 spent on YouTube. Except that advertising goes from medium to medium. That shift is already happening – internet spend has gone from 0% to 40% in less than 20 years. There should be plenty of money floating around already!

The lines are blurred now; where once there was paid-for music you owned, and free music you listened to on the radio, there are now paid-for and free music streaming services. Consumers stopped buying CDs or mp3s and started paying for subscription services or using ad-funded free services. These services launched “radio” stations that might allow the skipping of songs you don’t like. It’s all very different.

Yet radio is the key discovery mechanism for music, and provides validation. Most people do not want to spend hours trawling through new music blogs looking for something new. Radio still does that job.

Incidentally, Radio 4 has just broadcast an interesting two-part series The Business of Music. The two episodes have been edited together to make a single episode in Radio 4’s Seriously podcast, and it’s well worth having a listen.

Celebrity Deaths in 2016

Small Purplish Chap

No. I’m not about to pen a piece about sad the death of Prince. I couldn’t ever say I was a massive fan, although I’m enormously respectful of him and the range of his music. But in truth I never owned much of it. I think the album I must have listened most to of his was actually his Batman soundtrack – or at least the album of songs inspired by Tim Burton’s film, a handful of which actually made it into the movie alongside Danny Elfman’s score.

Instead I wanted to highlight a very worthwhile piece that aired on Radio 4’s More or Less last Friday exploring why so many celebrities seem to have died in the first months of 2016. There certainly do seem to have been more this year, although there are always ups and downs.

But what was hypothesised in the programme was the fact that we’re now reaching the period after which television, and pop and rock music made many more people famous than previously.

Suddenly there were an awful lot more people who’d found fame – often people who touched our lives during our adolescent years. And sadly they’re now reaching an age when they’re more likely to die.

That’s not to say that 69 for David Bowie, 62 for Victoria Wood or 57 for Prince aren’t terribly young ages to die at in 2016. But it does seem likely that celebrity deaths will become more common than they once were because from the latter part of the 20th century we had more cultural touchstones.

The edition of More or Less is really well worth a listen.

And that photo above of Prince?

It was taken at a great fun day out at the O2 in 2007 during Prince’s 21 night residency, when Virgin Radio took the entire station for a night out to see him. Prince had a strict “no photography” rule, but I was snapping away nonetheless until I felt the tap on my shoulder of a security guard. Worried that he was going to either wipe or take my SD card, I palmed it off to a colleague next to me, before being forced to put it in storage until after the show.