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Wednesday, November 23, 2011
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Still Misguided After All These Years

There is a great example at AllThingsD of why the radio industry is having problems attaching to the growth of anything digital. Actually, there are a few examples exhibited there, in the comments about a story on TuneIn (a radio app that's on a fast-rise to importance). TuneIn was started by Bill Moore years ago. It's a directory of radio stations. But, more importantly, like Pandora, it's reached "everywhere" status online.

At the heart of our discussion are comments by readers of this article - not the author. They appear to come from radio industry veterans who don't quite understand that it's not being on the web that matters, it's being found.

"Radio industry executives are still trying to mold the internet for their use, instead of finding which of the internet's applications can be best used by radio." AllThingsD says this about TuneIn, " October it had 30 million active users listening to 58,000 different stations from all over the world, with 200 new streams, podcasts or on-demand channels added every day."

Rephrased, this speaks of Tunein sending 30 million users to radio station streams. It can do that because the TuneIn application is becoming as ubiquitous as Pandora. So, how do a few commenters respond about this promotion of radio?

Here's an example from Dave Huff: "When will radio stations realize that by allowing TuneIn to play their stream for free, they are essentially giving up their listeners along with the ability to monetize them on mobile devices."

How can someone so grossly misunderstand how consumers use TuneIn, and what it means for radio? Dave's Twitter profile reads: "Currently working to change radio as the VP of User Experience @ BE Digital Media." (BE = Broadcast Electronics, which just purchased Dave's former employer "LocalMedia.")

There are a couple of other people commenting who support Dave's view. (I commented, and don't.) One says, "TuneIn monetizing the efforts and audiences of radio groups feels dirty." Another speaks of how "Radio owners / operators will become smarter and smarter about their digital content, especially their audio stream."

To the former, I ask how is leading someone to your radio stream dirty? TuneIn is monetizing the software it created, which organizes radio's online presence so stations may be found online. To the latter, let's just say if radio owners and operators haven't become smart enough about their digital content by now - 15 years after the web started to grow - I'm not holding much hope the next few years will produce swifter progress.

Getting online is simple. I can get you web site hosting for free and have the site up and running in an hour. If yours is a radio station web site, you can say your URL on air and maybe get the locals to visit. But, I'll guarantee that in the vast majority of cases there won't be enough people visiting monthly to monetize based on delivered-impressions. It's having applications like TuneIn, and to a far-less degree Audio Graphics' RadioRow, lead people who have never heard your stream or seen your web site.

Why should a person have an app leading to one station when they can have an app that serves them a plethora of stations - from which they can pick their favorites?

Radio industry executives are still trying to mold the internet for their use, instead of finding which of the internet's applications can be best used by radio. IMO, they don't see how this handing to conusmers of a multiple choice process is the biggest game-changer for radio. It's viewed as stealing listeners, when it should be seen as an opportunity to grow current audience.

Using the same logic these commenters applied to TuneIn, I find what another one says strange: "They [the radio station} built their brand, attracted the audience, pay the royalties among other overhead, and as such should be livid that someone like TuneIn is reaping the rewards of those efforts."

This sounds very much like the argument by artists on why the radio industry should pay musicians performance fees. Radio is, after all, using a product that those artists created.

Oh... radio is "promoting" the artists. Please then, explain the difference with TuneIn and radio stations.

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