The buzz at both the NAB Radio Show and Public Radio programmers convention was the need for stations to have smartphone apps.
Creationists and evolutionists can debate the chicken or the egg but you can’t argue app before content.
So what, besides Fred Jacobs and other brilliant salespeople whispering in your ear to buy, does an app do for a radio station’s listenership if its programming content just plain sucks out loud?
Too many stations are rushing their apps without having the content to back it.
There’s a huge difference between public and commercial radio. Public radio has content people want and can’t get anywhere else.
Let’s do the math. At this moment we have 85,000 apps in 20 different categories. The iPhone’s limit for apps is 148 – spread over 9 pages. What page do you think your radio station will be on?
There’s more. This week iPhone app downloads hit 2 billion. Do competing new app storefronts even have a chance? Android and BlackBerry’s apps aren’t even close to Apple’s tonnage.
Now, ponder this. The money this industry tossed on HD Radio could’ve gone to fighting the RIAA to be on line and able to play music on main and multiple support channels on the Internet and mobile – where everyone lives.
Instead, that money was thrown away on expensive licensing fees, transmitters that overheat and cost a ransom to run, and other miscellaneous costs that will never be recovered.
HD Radio isn’t showing growth. It’s a tumor eating away your revenue.
Here’s iBiquity’s Bob “Booble” Struble trying to snake-oil sell digital delivery by claiming your AM will sound like FM. You can accomplish the same – and reach a real mass audience – with your stream.
You want to get real creative? Put surround-sound on your stream. HD’s never going do that.
The smartest stations are those that didn’t fall for the hype. If you’re counting on that iBiquity IPO, keep counting and counting and counting….
HD Radio, otherwise known as the political machine grafted onto to the radio industry, is AM stereo in drag.
While those in radio best defined as clueless cheered for Apple’s new fifth gen iPod nano – FM radio included – none were aware that Apple also approved apps for RealNetwork’s Rhapsody and the Swedish-based Spotify.
Both operate free, on-demand music-streaming services. Those I polled in radio know of Pandora. Those I talked to who work for CBS Radio have working knowledge of Last.fm. A few knew Rhapsody – but fewer knew what it was – and absolutely no one had a clue about Spotify.
To the radio-radio people; those drinking the Kool Aid and believing everything they read from the NAB and RAB on the "success' of the “Radio Heard Here” campaign, let me explain.
Both Rhapsody and Spotify are fee on-demand music streaming sites. You can hear almost any song you request any time you want to.
Those I know who are not in radio – but know the net were surprised – no, shocked - that Steve Jobs and Apple would allow apps for both services – especially Spotify – even though it hasn’t launched in America yet.
See, 70 percent of all digital music sales come from iTunes. That adds up to around $958 million and change in Q3 alone. 74 percent of all digital music players are manufactured by Apple. And that’s not counting the iPhone. You want figures? The iPhone accounts half as many sales as all iPods combined – but its sales are growing in triple-digit percentages.
So ask yourself the question. Why would Steve Jobs cannibalize his own iTunes store? For the same reason a dog…never mind. Because he can. And because it makes sense.
Yes, initially it may cut into iTunes’ sales – but not really. Users of these on-demand services, which also include Ineem and CBS’s own $280 million acquisition Last.fm, also buy more paid digital downloads than non-users. Some of those instant requests translate to songs consumers buy from iTunes.
Remember, back in the old media days when terrestrial radio could break and sell music? Same thing. Well, not exactly. The one difference is that requests are usually songs you already know and want to hear.
Radio’s added value now and in the future will be to – paraphrase Tom Waits – give ‘em a little somethin’ they can’t get at home. If I have to explain it, you don’t belong in the radio business – or the entertainment business.
Back to Spotify. This is the one to watch for. It’s a next generation music streaming site. It’s more reliable (it’s less likely to deliver a re-record or different version of an original hit) and can deliver music as fast as most digital music players. It’s already the rage in Europe with 5 million users and scheduled to hit our shores by year’s end. Spotify already collected over 100,000 e-mail requests from potential U.S. users. It’ll come in two versions – free, with advertising and a commercial-free $16/month Premium.
Yes, media are changing rapidly. There is more to learn than any one person can assimilate. Attempts to control this new leviathan are beyond any one person’s capability.
Earlier generations had to master the evolution of old media. Today’s generation will master new media. They’ll need mentoring and guidance.
Therein lies a dilemma in attracting young people to the radio industry. Can we trust the mentoring of the next generation by those running radio today?
If you have to ask….