According to a study conducted by Arbitron and Edison Media, Web-radio listeners are willing to pay a small fee for commercial-free, high-quality audio they can't find anywhere else.
Forty percent of all Internet audio listeners said they would pay a subscription fee for this commercial-free content, while 9 million, or 11%, of the 80 million people who have ever listened to Internet audio said they would pay to listen to their favorite online channel.
The results are based on a survey of 2,500 phone interviews with a randomly selected national sample. This is the eighth such study Arbitron and Edison have done.
The potential viability of subscription-based models is increasingly critical in the wake of a proposed royalty rate that could force streamers to pay artists and labels for use of their songs. The Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel's proposal -- if approved -- could make it difficult for streamers to continue offering Web radio as a free service to consumers.
The study also found a rise in Internet listening. Approximately 40 million Americans, or 17%, use streaming audio or video in a typical month, up from 13% last year. But listeners are more responsive to audio and video ads than banners, with 52% finding banner ads more annoying than streaming audio ads and 53% finding banners more annoying than streaming video ads.
Arbitron is a third-party media measurement and marketing research company. Edison provides market survey research and information to radio and TV station, newspapers, cable networks, record labels, Web companies and other media organizations.