What were you listening to 19 years ago? If you’re like most people, your primary sources of audio were likely radios and your own music collection–perhaps even a carefully curated mixtape on your Walkman.
In 1998, the founders of Edison Research picked up signals that online media–including music and other formats–were becoming a “thing,” so it embarked on a study to measure consumer usage of “new” media. While that first report concluded that only a small portion of the population used online media, they detected plenty of listener enthusiasm for what the future held.
Obviously, much in the media world has changed since the late 90s, except the fact that Edison Research still measures online consumer behavior every year. Their annual Infinite Dial report has become a much-anticipated annual event among media providers and advertising professionals.
With each new Infinite Dial study comes new and interesting findings, but one trend that never seems to change is the pace of change. For example, Edison only began measuring smartphone ownership in 2009, yet mobile penetration has since reached near-saturation among young adults. Here are 5 key findings we learned from the recently-released 2017 Infinite Dial:
Edison’s studies have documented the correlation between smartphone ownership and online audio usage, and there’s every reason to believe that as more people own a smartphone, the likelihood of them listening to online audio, including music, increases dramatically. As of this year’s Infinite Dial, an estimated 170 million people listened to online radio in the last month; 148 million listened in the last week.
There are also signs that AM/FM’s grip on in-car is loosening. While 47% of respondents cited AM/FM as the medium used most of the time, that figure is down from 61% last year. Owned digital music, online radio and satellite radio are on the rise. We have seen via other studies that drivers of newer cars (which tend to be equipped with more advanced media features) are more likely to listen to digital audio instead of AM/FM.
This finding aligns with other research from Nielsen that reported a sharp uptick in time spent with smartphones among people of all ages. 
These five Infinite Dial findings once again underscore the growing popularity of personalized, online media, particularly as more people use internet-connected devices at home and on the go as their primary way of consuming content. Music has always been at the forefront of this shift to online and, as a leader in streamed music and digital audio advertising, we are emboldened by these results.
If you’re still curious about just how powerful digital audio is for delivering brand messages that stick, check out our new podcast series: The Power of Audio. You can tune into Episode 1 here…but keep an eye out for more episodes COMING SOON!1. Nielsen Comparable Metrics Report, Q3 2016