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Monday, May 20, 2013
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Radio Industry: Don't Bother Me, I'm Drifting

Online or broadcast the radio industry as we know it is in trouble. (As you read, emphasize that part about "as we know it.")

There is more competition everyday for peoples' ears. There is more music available than at any time in radio history. Yet we have an industry that sees continued loss of Time Spent Listening (online and broadcast), a loosening grip on how to monetize its audience (online and broadcast), and a cringing refusal to provide elementary metrics to an advertising community craving data.

"Radio is drifting. It's not locked onto its future course, which is problematic because the future arrived five years ago for most major companies.

I went through each of my regular radio trades today, reading. Not one carried a story about improving radio's content."

Trade magazines continue to report in ways that soften the reality to a "we're in control," or "media buyers don't understand how radio works" reasoning.

I'm not interested in how radio uses the airwaves; with the caveat of except when radio misses opportunity to use the airwaves in ways that enhance growing digital acumen.

You don't need a programer's ear to hear that online stations are engrossed in playing the music, fanning "compelling" content.

Another oddity: Many internet radio stations have a link to "advertise with us" which leads to a form requiring loads of information before response, AND NO ADDRESS OR PHONE NUMBER (sometimes not even an email address). Just who is it that's going to spend money without knowing who is behind a station?

Another online radio station requirement is to sell more than impression based advertising. In an online environment of audio services that include one which plays 4 :15 commercials an hour, and serves 200 million registered users - no station can sell enough ads in a CPM rate structure (cost-per-thousands) to make a go of it. Inventory is not finite.

The online radio industry has many options if it chooses to explore new avenues, but one misstep is the recent report of SAGA Broadcasting CEO Ed Christian deciding his stations will only stream to "local listeners." Inside Radio quotes Mr. Christian: "I canít make a dime out of somebody who is listening in Nebraska to a Columbus radio station..." Yes he can, by featuring advertisers which sell products and services online.

ProFlowers is only one example of a businesses making a majority of revenue from online. Dig and you'll uncover hoards of others.

Mr. Christian has all but guaranteed failure of his company's music streaming operation.

Why is it everything done on the presentation side of radio online appears without thought?

The only concept anyone seems to know is how to sell a group of 1,000 listeners. What hurts is how this happens in radio's digital world; where revenue improved 9% in Q1, 2013. (It was a larger increase for non-radio advertising platforms.) The business is there. Radio, compared to others, is just getting a very low ratio of it - online and off.

Gauging audience metrics and presenting advertisers with post-campaign reports is where advertising is headed. Google Analytics has just improved its platform, making it one of the best programs I've been exposed to for tracking what occurs on your web site. It's free, and can be used in conjuction with whatever you do online. Understanding "how" takes time, even with video support.

How many times has anyone on your staff crunched the numbers and prepared a detailed report? Do you even have a methodical way for quantifying online data?

As we know it the radio industry is having a tough go. RAB's update of its website only exemplifies its continued mindset of "here are the facts as we know them, and why you should use radio." Problem is, for all of advertising (online and off) there is a glut of available impressions. Included is the glut of available in-stream audio impressions.

Radio is drifting. It's not locked onto its future course, which is problematic because the future arrived five years ago for most major companies.

I went through each of my regular radio trades today, reading. Not one carried a story about improving radio's content. They had "people moves," reports of "flat revenue" and "how I got in to radio" articles as verbal litter. Little relates to improving what radio brings to audience and advertisers.

There are only a few online radio stations that are blazing new trails, doing a true "different." They do it well.

As for the rest, we wait for when the next station gets its online rudder working. More effort is needed. Just going about your days as "radio" doesn't work anymore.

Radio is drifting and nearly everyone in a position of authority says "don't bother me now. I'm too busy trying the same old thing differently."

Today's indie artist introduction to internet radio is...
Barbara Kiss


sample song
Catch Me

Stations - 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.

Barbara Kiss - "Catch Me" a listen.

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

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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