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Wednesday, February 4, 2013
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Online Radio Industry - Time to Revamp

There's nothing like seizing opportunity, which means you should not wait until you're ready to move on something if circumstances outside your control improve the chance for success today. Tens of thousands of online radio station programmers are being handed opportunity by a radio industry that continues to stumble.
"Internet radio can offer so much more because the radio industry now offers so much less."

Of those online radio stations started over the past decade, only a small handful will create - have created - something that's different, worthwhile of returned attention by an audience large enough to matter. The rest play songs, or talk topics that interest the owners.

The "rest" will (and should) remain pleased with what they've accomplished. There's nothing wrong with riding the line between amateur and professional. Golfers, artists, writers, musicians all have millions of faithful who are quite satisfied doing it as a hobby.

What follows is not for enthusiastic amateurs, though. This is for folks who want to become professional radio operators online, those who want to build a profession and make a living.

Here is an exercise that demonstrates just how much opportunity there is for you at this time: Visit major radio trade publications and notice how there's nothing that shows broadcasters offer you serious competition.

Nearly all radio industry "news" deals with stations changing formats, people being given more responsibility because of budget cuts, and sales people trying to explain why the world isn't moving into digital.

There's one trade, today, offering words from a General Sales Manager who compares the entire radio industry with Pandora - this is not unusual. There is so much fear, and so many people wearing blinders, that the existence of other online "radio" competition constantly goes unmentioned. Pandora seems to be all anyone in the radio industry focuses on.

What's being presented as over-the-air programming today is duplicative of what thousands of enthusiastic, amateur, internet radio owners offer - a jukebox on steroids, with little station personality. Notice that this is not phrased as "personalities on the station" because voice-tracking and jock firings have removed a majority of personalities.

Internet radio station owners have a wide open field of opportunity to create the next generation of programming - to build stations with personality.

Radio online can offer so much more because the radio industry now offers so much less.

Here are some guidelines to set an internet radio station apart.

Over the past few weeks I've had some conversations with online radio operators who glow about their creating "new," "unique" programs. They then go on to explain how their morning show includes yada, yada, yada. Only, online, lose this concept of producing a program for a given daypart. It's always "morning" for someone in your audience.
The concept of playing to a local crowd is not a reality online. The chance that any person - whether their name is Tom Leykis or Tom Smith - can draw a consistently large online audience from a given geographic area is slim. You play online, you play to an audience with no borders, and your programming needs to reflect that approach.
Lose the crowded, hard-to-navigate web site design which is standard in the radio industry. Simplicity is your goal.
Define the one or two reasons why a person comes to you and present that in an uncluttered way on your site.
Decide exactly what it is your online radio station offers; there should be no time spent by a visitor trying to figure out what music or talk experience they will receive from you.

Over the next few weeks we'll discuss more suggestions on the opportunities for radio online, but do digest this one last item now: The radio industry is in disarray. Its leaders are old, out of touch with technology, and sprinting towards anything that looks like it makes them wise (even if it doesn't work, or they have no means of measuring whether it works).

For those who want to make a profession of radio online, there's no better time to make your move. Be creative and unique, because your broadcast competitors are going in the opposite direction.

All that's needed is to "seize the opportunity." It's there, waiting for you to make it happen.

While the broadcast side of radio has a near lockout on indie artists, introducing music is open wide to internet stations.
Here's a Pop artist to consider: Diverse - "New Boy."
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We listen for songs that evoke emotion; fast, slow, female, male, group, it doesn't matter. When an artist has the power to please, they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give Diverse - "New Boy" a listen.

Add it to your playlist, free! Such is the new world of music distribution.

The radio industry had its shot. It's time internet radio programmers reach into this huge pile of talent, where new hit songs will increasingly be found.

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