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An Indie Artist Pipeline to Internet Radio
Thursday, April 18, 2013
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Radio Online Lacks Objective

"How can I make money with my online radio station?"
"Why is it so hard to build an audience?"
"What can be done better with my internet radio station?"
"We broadcast to the world!"

In reply to each:
Offer something of value.
Competition has never been so plentiful.
Nearly everything.
Who cares?
"If you want a leg up on people, I suggest you turn to the RAIN audio of its seminars (which occurred adjacent to the NAB/RAB get-together). You may not find direct answers, but you'll most assuredly hear comments and suggestions that place you in a direction to improve."

The online radio industry is suffering, but not in the sense that there's no future. If the recent past shows anything it's that momentum is building for listening to radio online. This "suffering" is akin to wandering in a forest with no real idea of which way leads to a road.

We see major organizations like Clear Channel, Cumulus, Pandora, and Slacker devoting effort to capturing an audience online. By all measurement the latter two are doing a much better job at it than the former two. But all are having difficulty in creating worth for advertisers, the kind that creates a rush towards the product instead of a slowly building "try-and-see" approach.

If your internet radio station is not tied to the above - being either associated with a lesser known broadcast group or as a stand-alone pureplay operator - then attracting audience and advertisers is more difficult.

I know those in the broadcast industry won't listen. But to the thousands of internet radio operators looking to build on the public's momentum towards digital everything, here's a tip: Get an objective.

The simplest objective is to not be like the radio industry.

We're coming off another NAB/RAB convention. As in nearly every year for the past decade following it, I've said this: Point to something - anything - that is being done differently by any broadcast operator which is a direct result of what was learned at the convention.

If you want a leg up on people, I suggest you turn to the RAIN audio of its seminars (which occurred adjacent to the NAB/RAB get-together). You may not find direct answers, but you'll most assuredly hear comments and suggestions that place you in a direction to improve.

As for what happened over the next few days at NAB/RAB, you may disregard it as most in the terrestrial radio industry do.

The problems faced by radio - online and off - are all a result of not having an objective that relates to being online. In nearly every case, internet radio stations emulate their broadcast counterparts. They play songs (or talk), then play ads (or PSAs).

The difference between what was and what is follows these facts:
Ad agencies are still getting up-to-speed on the best ways to use what the internet gives them. There is no standardization on requests for proposal, affidavits of performance, invoicing, or accountability.

The numbers of competitors online far outweigh anything that has been presented in a broadcast environment. Your internet AC radio station is against thousands of others, with each displaying a different level of competence in look and programming.

Nearly everything can be done better with your radio station online. Look at the number of times tech-savvy companies have rebuilt their websites over the past decade. It's a state of continuous flux; adapt and rebuild is mandatory. How many times do radio stations rebuild their websites?

But here's the biggest, and last, suggestion to ponder. Your audience comes from outside of one geographic area. By trying to limit this, all that's done is to limit growth potential. A good example of this was launched last year by - supported by The Boston Globe, to serve Boston.

While I might be missing it, I urge you to look and visit RadioBDC. See if there's a pronounced mention of the Boston Marathon tragedy on its home page. All I could find was a short blurp in the "RadioBDC Blog," which carries the disclaimer: "This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe. The author is solely responsible for the content."

RadioBDC is just one of thousands of stations competing in the radio industry online. That it is has the backing of an institution like the Boston Globe should provide the necessary items to help it become a driving force. It doesn't, though.

Internet radio is not going away, but it needs to morph into a usable media that's more than a jukebox on steroids. That's the bad news.

The good news is that those who are in the "professional" broadcast radio industry have even fewer clues as to what works online. Even though they have the power of promoting an online presence over-the-air, it does little good in increasing the online audience or in educating the radio sales staff on how to sell its digital component.

The only thing I can point to that's shared by all is a lack of objective.

Online radio is NOT a build it and they will come proposition. The faster this is understood the quicker we'll begin to see someone other than Pandora, Slacker, Clear Channel, and Cumulus grabbing attention online.

We wait for suffering to stop within the online radio industry, yet it won't unless creativity and taking chances are built into the design.

Internet radio will eventually win. Over how long a period of time depends on how aggressive the internet radio industry becomes, and how quickly it finds an objective.

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: Carmin Blinn.
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Carmin Blinn

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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 Carmin Blinn's "I Wish" 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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