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Friday, February 10, 2012
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Radio Industry Missing Another Oncoming Train

As thousands of radio industry personnel do each day, I climbed on the internet and made my way from one industry trade publication to the next this morning. It's a ritual. Outside of communications from peers, this is the sole way I keep abreast on what radio industry executives deem important - or what the editors of each radio industry publication see as information needed by radio executives to maintain a cutting edge in the business.

"...we are now in a time when a radio/TV program doesn't need to be 30 minutes, or one hour. Fact is, online, if the program takes 47 minutes to complete - it's the internet - go ahead!" For years I looked at these publications hoping to see information on a growing internet radio industry. It was an oncoming train that needed to be discussed, yet never seemed to make its way into the radio industry trades in the early years. We all know where that led radio.

The bantering about this new competition seems to be a daily routine today; in retrospect, talk of streaming and the online advantage should have started years before it did.

Today let's talk about another oncoming train - the one I did not see mentioned in any radio industry trade this morning but that should have been labeled a top story (because it impacts in-home radio listening).

Last night iTunes featured a concert by Paul McCartney... the artist that helped build radio into a daily habit simply by producing thousands of great songs with those other fellows, "The Beatles."

Now we could banter about how this was an innovation in entertainment that not only signaled a shift in the magnitude of "who" is using the internet for distribution of new music, but it was also a shifting of the demos targeted on the internet for introduction of music (and music video).

Paul McCartney, on iTunes, introducing a new album that's made up of songs which relate to the 50+ crowd is an historic moment (even if it was not mentioned in any radio industry trade).

Only, what's more important than the above sentence, and what also did not appear in any publication that radio executives read to stay abreast of new music happenings, were a few short words uttered by Sir Paul near the end of this 55-minute concert. Let me quote him: "So I think we are off the air...who cares, whatever...It's not air [broadcast] anyway, it's Net!"

This oncoming train is showing what's been talked about for over a decade at Audio Graphics - we are now in a time when a radio/TV program doesn't need to be 30 minutes, or one hour. Fact is, online, if the program takes 47 minutes to complete - it's the internet - go ahead!

That Paul McCartney could/would do an introductory concert on iTunes and not even receive a mention of it in radio industry trades demonstrates: 1) There's no awareness of the importance of this event; or 2) The radio industry doesn't want to be informed of trend-setting events. You choose which, because I'm baffled and can't.

Not only did we have one of the biggest stars in music doing an online concert last night, but he acknowledged in the program that this was the "Net" and, therefore, not held to any of the restrictions traditional media impose. These are two huge factors that didn't get so much as a word mentioned in those publications you read to help you produce a better radio product.

What happened yesterday was another step towards making radio less relevant - not destroying it, but opening up the masses to options radio does not deliver.

Think about it... this was Paul McCartney in concert, on iTunes! If our trade publications do not see how this interplays with the radio industry and it's competitive positioning today, they are missing another oncoming train. And, what generates the most fear for me is that this one's headlamp simply could not get any brighter.

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