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An Indie Artist Pipeline to Internet Radio
Monday, April 1, 2013
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Online Directions for Lost Radio Industry

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a GPS (Graphics Positioning System) showing the way to what your radio station should do online? I would have these instructions vocalized immediately:

"Shrink that header graphic, which is 4-times bigger than it needs to be."

"Move the 'listen' icon to near the upper-left corner, because that's where a visitor's eyes first rest when entering."

"Make the 'listen' icon a 'mute' icon, and just have your radio station start playing when a visitor enters."

"Design a 'contact' method that doesn't require the audience to supply the station with information prior to asking a question."
"...with few exceptions, the internet radio community reflects terrestrial radio industry web sites.

Building ease-of-use into internet radio can no longer be ignored by those claiming to be a radio station online. Making it difficult to contact the station or to query it on buying advertising also needs revision."

My online radio industry GPS would also carry one major instruction voiced each time it's turned on by your web designer: "Get rid of the crap!"

There's one positive for anyone who's involved with internet radio. You don't have to worry about any major radio company designing a web site that's worth your worrying about. The downside is there are few pure-play radio station web sites that the broadcast radio industry needs to worry about, either.

Just what is it that radio is trying to do online? From all indications, it doesn't fall within "trying to be esthetically pleasing."

In adding stations to Audio Graphics' RadioRow, I visit about a dozen radio station websites each week. Each one is new to me, and seldom do they display a look that makes navigating easy. Take a quick click through these seven alternative radio stations to see what I mean. Only the last, "The Loser's Lounge" radio, seems to understand that simplicity is at the heart of a quality User Interface (UI).

105.7 The Point - Emmis Broadcasting
94.3 The Dam - Cumulus Media
98.9 The Drive - Bell Media
102.1 The Edge - Corus Radio
105.9 The X - Clear Channel
Alternative HD - LA Cable Radio Network
The Loser's Lounge - Cruise and Good Radio

After more than a dozen years (during which hundreds of categories of online companies have reworked websites to simplify), it appears that the radio industry is still chasing down a promotional laden look that confuses. Frankly, most online radio stations need to have about one-half of whatever they offer deleted - or dispersed into a hierarchy of links off the home page.

Want an example of this simplicty? Visit - yes, Coca Cola company has their own radio station and, though it's based in Brazil, not aimed at the U.S. audience, design esthetics are kept simple. Visit the iTunes store and you'll find Coca-Cola FM apps for Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and El Salvador.

Take another internet music destination that understands online visitors want to do as little search and understand as possible. (Now defunt) Grooveshark is fast building an audience. The reason is simple. Its website is simple. As simple as Pandora, which is also giving the radio industry - online and off - a run for all money.

We can continue with Songza and Rdio, among many other online radio options. Even satisfies this call for simplicity which is, curiously, diametrically opposed to how its owner CBS Radio designs its radio station websites. View CBS Radio's WNCX, Cleveland site. See how long it takes you to find the "contact" link.

While at WNCX, let's discuss one other element of radio industry website design that makes no sense; and it doesn't matter if the site is a pure-play or broadcaster. That link usually titled "Advertise With Us," or something similar, leads to a page carrying a sentence similar to this: "Do you want to advertise on 98.5 WNCX? Fill out the form below and someone will be in contact with you!"

The above carries six required information fields that need to be filled in BEFORE the station will even think about talking to that person - someone who, by visiting this page, has shown an interest in advertising on the station. Can anyone demonstrate a better method for driving people away from spending money with you? What happened to "Leave your phone number and we'll call, pronto."

Before moving on, let me answer the above question: How about the station offering no phone number or street address? You'd be surprised how often radio stations online leave out these vital bits of information (especially when asking for "donations to keep us online").

It's out of hand, and, with few exceptions, the internet radio community reflects terrestrial radio industry web sites.

Building ease-of-use into internet radio can no longer be ignored by those claiming to be a radio station online. Making it difficult to contact the station or to query it on buying advertising also needs revision.

Despite Pandora offering a slick video explanation of what the potential advertiser/agency receives, it requires a long list of questions be answered BEFORE submitting. I cannot think of anything which limits response more than this style of inquisition. Worse, each question could be easily answered AFTER the Pandora rep reaches the submitting person.

Online, the radio industry is failing. Each day more people are tuning into audio alternatives that rest outside of what has always been defined as "radio."

Use your own Graphics Positioning System (GPS), or visit successful online companies to uncover elements in web design that are missing from your radio station's web site.

Continuing down the road as it has will leave online radio with a diminishing audience, lost to other internet audio sites.

Believing there's no harm in the way things have been done will be as destructive as believing the radio industry is impervious to listener erosion. And we all know where that approach has led so far.

Fewer people will be listening if the internet radio industry doesn't start responding to how generating response works, because how it's being done is void of making it simple for the user.

While the broadcast side of radio has a near lockout on indie artists, introducing music is open wide to internet stations.
A Jazz artist to consider:
Matthew Smith & The Legandary Skyview Band

sample song
Sun to Son

Download Song


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 Matthew Smith & The Legandary Skyview Band's "Sun to Son" 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 take a chance and reach into a huge pile of talent. It is there that new hit songs will increasingly be found.

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