Digitisation and the internet have enabled the emergence of free digital music streaming services, like Last.fm, Spotify and We-7, and online-only radio services like Mixcloud, which disintermediate the traditional broadcast radio station’s role as a gatekeeper between the music industry and the listener (Weichmann, 2009). UK radio broadcasters have responded to these challengers with their own webcasting and with a platform – Radioplayer – created by a unique collaboration between BBC and commercial radio stations. Although online listening is still small compared to broadcast audiences, the potential exists for social media to transform the way audiences listen to music online and on mobile devices (Ofcom, 2011).
This chapter proposes a new analytical framework to analyse the different services offered by traditional and digital radio and music services and to evaluate their performance,from an audience perspective. Having differentiated the various services within a competitive field, the chapter gives a more detailed examination to two innovative companies – Radioplayer and Mixcloud - which are attempting to redefine radio services online, on mobile and on social media. The particular focus of the final part of the chapter is in applying the analytical framework to analyse and evaluate the performance of the social media applications implemented by these companies, in comparison with a key competitor, Spotify.