Old car AM radio.

Hearing, Seeing, Earning

No Static At All

According to Nielsen, some 47 million Americans listen to AM radio. Given that there are some 338 million Americans, that isn’t a small number.

While electric vehicle sales are still under 10% in the U.S., the number is growing.

And as it grows, the number of AM radios in vehicles declines. Electric vehicles produced by Audi, BMW, Porsche, Volvo, Volkswagen and Tesla are all AM-radio free.

Ford has announced that its immensely popular F-150 Lightning electric pickup, will not have AM starting in model year 2023.

This isn’t (necessarily) a case of what’s known in the industry as “decontenting,” or removing things to reduce costs and increase profits.

Rather, electric motors throw off electromagnetic interference that affects AM reception in a way that it doesn’t affect FM. (The same goes for other electrical phenomenon, such as non-automotive lightning.)

Because Tesla is by far the most popular brand of EVs in the U.S. (and everywhere else for that matter), it is interesting to note something about its entertainment strategy.

What’s involved in getting AM, FM and Sirius Radio (assuming there is an appropriate antenna affixed to the roof) in a Tesla?

The customer must purchase a Radio Upgrade. It costs $500. But to get the Radio Upgrade it is necessary to get the Infotainment Upgrade. According to Tesla, to obtain the Infotainment Upgrade, “Owners of compatible vehicles can schedule an appointment through the Tesla app for purchase and installation. This upgrade is available for $2,250 plus applicable tax, including installation, for vehicles equipped with Autopilot Computer 2.0 or 2.5 and for $1,750 plus applicable tax, including installation, for all other vehicles.”

But wait, there’s more: “Some features enabled by the Infotainment Upgrade require a Premium Connectivity subscription.” And for that: “Premium Connectivity currently is available as a monthly subscription of $9.99 plus applicable tax or as an annual subscription of $99 plus applicable tax.”

Remember when radios were standard equipment in cars?

The least-expensive Tesla is a Model 3 that starts at $46,990.

Well, at least static from the audio isn’t an issue.

The Game’s the Thing

The music industry isn’t as much of an industrial powerhouse as you might think.

As in 2021:

  • Video games (mobile, console and PC): $192.7 billion
  • Books (print and e-): $120.1 billion
  • Film (home and theater): $99.7 billion
  • Recorded music (physical, digital): $25.9 billion

That per Statista.

(If there is any surprise in those numbers it is the spending on books. Apparently reading isn’t quite dead. Yet.)

Still Not Nothing

Goldman Sachs released a report earlier this year, “Music in the Air.” (This was well before it was reported that the investment bank will usher in 2023 by getting rid of about 8% of its workforce.)

Among the reckonings:

“We raise our 2022/2023 global music forecasts by 7%/5% respectively, and 2030 forecasts by 10%, mainly driven by higher streaming ARPU [average revenue per unit], revenues from emerging platforms and physical sales. We forecast +24%/+8% growth in 2022/23, which is 3 ppt lower than previously owing to the impact of a weaker macro and Russia, while our forecast 2022-30 CAGR is unchanged at +9%.”

And while Spotify seems like an audio Borg:

“The digital distribution landscape remains competitive with ‘no winner takes all’ characteristics. Spotify is the clear leader but continues to lose share, with YouTube Music and Tencent Music the major share gainers.”

Speaking of Streaming

“It has long been the case in recorded music that only a very small minority of artists will achieve the highest level of success. In 2020 over 60% of streams were of music recorded by only the top 0.4% of artists. To reach the top of the chart, songs need to be streamed many millions of times each day and many artists are faced with a situation where their work can be streamed millions of times, but it does not translate into a significant share of their income. For example, 12 million streams a year could earn an artist around £12,000, but less than 1% of artists achieve that number of streams.”— “Music and streaming market study: final report,” Competition & Markets Authority, U.K. Government, November 2022

No Wonder It Broke

Taylor Swift’s “The Eras” tour will take her to 20 large stadia on her U.S. leg.

A rough calculation has it that that will represent 3,912,600 39,126,000   tickets—and it could be more, depending on stage and seating configuration.

Let’s take out the dynamic pricing and the fees that are added like food on the plate of a glutton at an all-you-can-eat buffet. (Yes, an unrealistic exception, but you can just imagine the size of the multiple.)

If the tickets had face value of $49 and $449, the average (and median) price is $249.

$249 x  3,912,600 39,126,000  =  $974,312,100  $9,743,121,000

A lot of damn money.

And While on the Subject of Money

“I think I busted a button on my trousers. Hope they don’t fall down. You don’t want my trousers to fall down, now do you?”

Ah, an earlier day of Jagger and the boys. November, 1969. Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out.

Now, 53 years later, The Stones have gone from being “nod-nod, wink-wink” bad boys to a band marking its 60th anniversary. . .and the British Royal Mint marked it by releasing a five-pound coin with the likenesses of Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie engraved on it.

In response, the band put out a statement: “We are delighted to be honoured by way of an official U.K. coin.”

It’s a long way from that Jagger at Madison Square Garden.

And according to Spotify, there are 21,039,451 active listeners to the Stones each month. They probably do all right there (possibly skewing those Competition & Markets Authority figures).

Perhaps they can get paid in five-pound coins.


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