Online, Don't Mirror Offline Radio Industry

By James | Posted 86 days ago
Feature Article
We are in an age of opportunity. Those who supported the radio industry ignoring online competition are beginning to be drowned out by reality. Most recently an eMarketer report surfaced, stating internet radio will reach half of the U.S. population next year. Radio execs are just now realizing that they've done little to prepare for what's already out there, and nothing to prepare for what's to come.

There is no shortage of online audio options and, despite insistence that "radio" and "internet radio" occupy separate silos, youthful consumers consider anything digested through ears as "audio." Spend time on any internet music service, radio station, music and speech download site, or app which delivers audio options previously unnamed, and you are not spending time on an AM/FM radio program. Broadcasters are worried about this.

Every big online name you can think of is launching an internet audio service - some call it radio. Tens-of-thousands of amateur enthusiasts are starting their own radio stations, podcasts, and social media-linked programs. The commercial radio industry is noticing and finally getting ramped up with motions that should have begun a decade ago. What an audio mess!

We in the U.S. are going into another Labor Day weekend. It's our way of saying 2013 is almost done. Get ready for 2014. But just how do you do that if you're interested in creating an online audio venue that attracts audience and advertising dollars when competition for ears is growing? There's no simple answer.

Though you won't find the magic bullet below, from someone who tracks this arena daily, I'll throw out a few suggestions.
  • Decide what you are and who you serve. It may be a "doh!" statement to you but visit any number of internet audio websites and it takes time to understand what's being offered. It's not always lack of focus that's behind this confusion; sometimes a concept takes time to explain to a public that has no time for explanation. 

  • Is advertising part of your business model? Then give serious thought to who you sell to, what you deliver, and how to demonstrate ROI; it's the latter which determines if a business will return. There are millions of dollars spent for internet advertising every day, yet nobody is going to hand you the money without a professionally executed proposal, delivery and invoicing system. 

  • Do NOT mirror what the radio industry is doing offline - it caters to an increasingly older audience. 

  • If you can't be something new, you have no reason for being!
Anyone who has worked with mass media understands the concept of familiarity; the audience seeks it. Over the last couple of decades the masses added to this by huddling in groups of similar-minded individuals, resulting in the dichotomy of mass media serving more niche audiences.

Anyone who has spent a few hours listening to a traditional radio industry station knows it lacks in exposing new artists. That's part of the void online audio sites are charged with filling. As we reach into 2014, and deeper into the eMarketer projection that internet radio will reach half of the U.S. population, bear in mind a need to be a different kind of audio delivery system.

No matter what it is that you do in audio, online, trying to be like the commercial stations that generations have tuned to by pushing buttons on a receiver is a wrong choice.

To have hope of breaking through the clutter you have to be specific in intent, professional sounding (from the audio processing side), and unlike anything currently found - which brings up the most important aspect of competition in today's online world. You first have to be found.



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