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Monday, February 13, 2012
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Internet Radio Stations Need Attention

Here's an across-the-board observation made during my journey to add 6 stations to Audio Graphics' RadioRow this weekend: Some serious attention is needed if these radio industry programmers want to lift their audience levels to beyond a few hundred (or dozen?) simultaneous listeners.

The bulk of attention that we give to online radio stations comes whenever Triton Digital releases its Webcast Metrics - you can get a report that I compile on these stats here. But, in this list of some of the most powerful radio stations and networks online, there's no mention of other powerhouses like Bill Goldsmith's Radio Paradise, Radioio, or thousands of smaller players.

"I don't understand why a radio station that streams would not want to be in a place where people go to look for streaming radio stations." With millions of people spread across these new competitors to the broadcast radio industry, we do need to point out that: 1) there's an extremely "long-tail" of stations to choose from, and 2) many of these stations need serious help in defining themselves online, to grow an audience.

For the first time since launching RadioRow in 1999, I've created a list titled: These are the rules I follow each Sunday to decide if a station gets listed at RadioRow.

You may smile when reading through it, but let it be known that a large number of stations are rejected just based on these 5 simplistic points.
The station must be streaming when I go to listen. No sound, no listing.
I must have an email address for the station.
(If the station only has a "contact form" page, it will not be listed.)
Please make sure the station is complete. No "under construction" web sites.
If you are the owner of the station, state that on the submission - it will help you.
Please make sure your "listen button" is easily found.

If I were to add anything to the above about what the radio industry could do to improve its growth opportunities online, it would be for broadcasters to become more active in trying to get word out about their station's existence.

Just a cursory look through the more than 170 stations in queue, for consideration (to be listed at RadioRow), shows a tremendous lack of broadcasters wanting their station name at an online destination where people go to find internet radio stations. Out of 75 submissions still waiting for consideration, and dating from September-December 2011, here's a breakout of two items.

38 originate from within the US border. (That leaves 49.3% as international stations.)
Only 2 of the 75 submissions are radio industry stations!
(That's 2.6% as broadcasters wanting to be listed... what's wrong with this picture?)

Not to spend time on this, but if I estimate the genres of formats submitted, they look like:
20% are dance stations
10% jazz
15% some form of rock
10% hip hop & rap
25% spiritual
5% country
5% talk
10% specialty/other

I don't understand why a radio station that streams would not want to be in a place where people go to look for streaming radio stations. Do a search for "internet radio stations" or "radio stations." See how many broadcasters are returned, and you'll begin to understand that getting noticed online is more than just saying "visit our website" over-the-air.

More attention needs to be given to what the radio industry features online, too.

With a growing audience of internet radio listeners, there's a larger group of people to share. And if you really want to make your radio station's stream stand out, try putting content on it that cannot be found on your broadcast signal. Audio Graphics' "Intro to Indie Artists" program series can now boast that 165 stations play 406 "Intro to Indie Artists" programs. (Sample these programs here.)

Giving the audience something that it can't find anywhere else is (as any good programmer knows) the first step in drawing that audience back multiple times.

If it wants to grow an internet audience, the radio industry needs to offer more of "different" online. Broadcast radio - and the smaller pure-play stations - should have unique programming online, like those other popular internet radio players.

When a station wants attention, it needs to give attention to what it offers the audience.

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