Friday, February 29, 2008

Radio Versus The Recording Industry

This is the best article I have read to date on the recording artist royalty situation. Remarkably evenhanded and balanced.

Once again Seeking Alpha and author J.P. Hannan are an excellent source for insightful and useful articles.

Read it here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Most Powerful Name in Music?

Perez Hilton!

Earlier in the week it was reported that our favorite cat-fighting celeb gossip hound was in negotiations to start his own music label. If I were an aspiring pop artist I would be jumping through rings of fire to get signed by Perez's new label-if it were to come to pass.

He is a force to be reckoned with and his web traffic is off the map:
The power of the web continues to roll.

Who from your station is your local web superstar? Your top-rated morning show? Your afternoon talk host? Maybe your award-winning newsroom?

I hope so.


eMarketer published a poll conducted by Harris Interactive chronicling the daily online activities of US college students which they defined as 18-30 years old. Keep in mind this survey does not include cell phones, pda's etc., so no text messaging. Quite honestly no real surprises here. So the reason I'm posting the results? The percentage of students that download music. 25%.

If you happened to watch my multimedia podcast not long ago you would have seen this graph:
It's the nationwide 10 year AQH Rating trend of 18-24 year olds from Arbitron. The shockingly steep decline was just shy of 25%. Hmmm.

  • Daily music downloads 25%/Rating point decline 25%

For a significant portion of listeners of all ages, in the past, music discovery was an important part of the radio experience. These data suggest, at least in the abstract, that the music discovery component of radio may also be in significant decline. I have to admit I am guessing here, since it would be impossible to correlate that information from the available data. But, I think it's a good guess.

I can't say it enough, these 18-24's will be graduating into the 25-54 demo before we can blink and based on the declining numbers, unless some dramatic change happens, we won't be welcoming many of them into the P1 radio club.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What Were They Thinking?

I'm not sure where this list of quotes originated--having seen it published in multiple places. I would be happy to credit the originator. Whether you have read it before or if this is your first viewing it is worth reading.

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” –Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” –Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” –The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

“But what … is it good for?” –Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” –Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

“If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.” –Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads.

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.” — Bill Gates, 1981

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” –David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” –A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” –H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.” –Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind.”

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” –Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” –Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” –Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

“So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’” –Apple Computer Inc. founder, Steve Jobs, on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer.

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” –Western Union internal memo, 1876.

“Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.” –1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard’s revolutionary rocket work.

“You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can’t be done. It’s just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training.” –Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the “unsolvable” problem by inventing Nautilus.

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” –Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” –Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” –Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” –Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction”. –Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon”. –Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon- Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

I love lists like this. It inspires me to think of the impossible and out of the impossible--who knows! Here's what I thought about reading this list:

  • What seems logical today may be ridiculous tomorrow.
  • What is important today may be irrelevant tomorrow.
  • What seems impossible today may be commonplace tomorrow.
  • Ideas are everything.
  • Nothing is static.
  • Every "somebody" started out as a "nobody."

What did you think about?

Monday, February 25, 2008


Two items have caught my attention.

First from R&R's website-posted this Monday evening:

musicFirst Fires On NAB For Fees

By Jeffrey Yorke

As some 500 local broadcasters collect in the nation’s capital for the NAB’s annual three-day State Leadership Conference in a swanky hotel adjacent to the FCC’s headquarters, musicFirst has welcomed the visitors with a poke in the eye -- or, as the broadcasters see it, a poke in the pocket -- by launching a three-day advertising campaign in a Capitol Hill newspaper that calls for performance fees to be levied on radio.

The lobby for recording artists, musicians and record labels doesn’t see this as an attack but a method of achieving balance. “It’s a fundamental fairness issue,” musicFirst spokesman Marty Machowsky tells R&R, noting that AM and FM broadcasters earn $16 billion annually in advertising revenue and pay nothing for the music they broadcast. “There is no question in our minds that music promotes radio. What we are seeking, and what is in place in most nations, is fair performance rights. No more, no less.” Machowsky adds that not only are performance rights fees in place throughout the world, but also in the U.S. for Sirius and XM, Internet radio, cable radio “and every other format where music is aired for profit.”

While Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill calling for the initiation of fees, there’s not been a groundswell of support nor has there been much real talk against it. Washington is focused on a presidential campaign and other pressing matters. While the NAB wants to the performers' and artists' pleas to get lost in the shuffle, musicFirst hopes to draw attention to their campaign and embarrass the out-of-towners. It’s running a full-page advertisement in Capitol Hill’s influential Roll Call newspaper that shows a sidewalk musician with a few bucks tossed into his open guitar case and the bold headline, “He Just Made More Money Than Any Recording Artist On The Radio.”

“Radio’s refusal to pay artists and musicians a fair performance royalty is indefensible; so they have apparently stopped trying to defend it, choosing instead to hide behind other business issues facing the music industry,” Machowsky tells R&R. “It’s time for the NAB and corporate radio to answer the tough questions about their refusal to pay artists and musicians,” said Doyle Bartlett, executive director of the musicFirst Coalition in a statement released by the group on Monday. “AM and FM music radio stations earn $16 billion each year in advertising revenue. But not a single penny goes to the artists and musicians whose creativity, whose heart, whose soul and whose passion bring to life the music that listeners tune in to hear.

“There are many questions that the NAB and corporate radio lobbyists cannot possibly answer with a clear conscience. How can you justify taking someone’s intellectual property and making $16 billion in annual advertising revenue off that property without compensating the creators and owners of the property? This runs against all basic notions of fairness and respect. You might expect this in places like Iran, North Korea and China, where there also is no performance right on radio, but not in the United States. “Why do you deserve a competitive advantage in the music marketplace? Artists and musicians are paid when their music is broadcast on satellite radio, Internet radio and digital music services delivered through satellite and cable television.”

And, in a particularly clear attempt to cause fissure inside the NAB, Bartlett asked, “Which of your leaders is right: David Rehr, president of the NAB, or W. Russell Withers, head of the Withers Broadcasting Group and chairman of the NAB Radio Board? Mr. Rehr calls paying artists for their work product a 'performance tax.' Really, the loophole in copyright law he is trying to salvage is merely an elaborate payment-avoidance scheme. On the other hand, when Mr. Withers was questioned before the Senate Commerce Committee during a hearing last year, he said, 'I disagree with "performance tax." It’s a performance fee.' What is wrong with paying a fee for product that makes you money?”

Mary Wilson, the longest member of Motown wondergroup the Supremes, last week canvassed Capitol Hill, and more artists are expected to meet with representatives this week. MusicFirst declined to unveil its visiting artists list but acknowledged they will be there.

The NAB quickly responded with a volley of its own on Monday (Feb. 25), saying that it understands that the RIAA and musicFirst “will parade a handful of artists through Congress this week in support of legislation that would result in as much as a $7 billion annual tax on local radio stations” and that it would defend itself. "We welcome the debate over which side has been more 'fair' to artists -- radio stations or RIAA-member companies,” NAB executive VP Dennis Wharton said. “America's hometown radio stations expose and promote musicians to 232 million listeners every week. Contrast that with decades-long exploitation of artists by foreign-owned record labels, demonstrated just this month in a $6 million lawsuit against Universal Music Group for 'cheating' artists like Count Basie and Benny Goodman out of royalties."

And then Cramer is back with a biting commentary on the role Congress and the NAB has played in trying to block the XM/Sirius merger--for more than 12 minutes tonight on CNBC's Mad Money.

On the one hand Congress appears to want to "help" terrestrial radio with its opposition to the SatRad merger, but on the other hand Congress seems to be perfectly content, to at least consider, what amounts to levying a music use tax on the radio business.

If both, the merger and the artist royalties, were to go through which would have a more detrimental effect on the radio business?

From my vantage point I believe that a freshly minted music tax could endanger music radio as we know it. Already weakened by a growing pull vs. push consumer mindset, one can only believe that radio (terrestrial and satellite) will have an even more difficult time competing in the future. Now, maybe that is the natural order of things. I would like to think that if we, the experts in audio entertainment for more than 80 years, can figure out new and creative ways to entertain listeners, including music programming, it might not be as severe. It seems to me that XM and Sirius are in the same boat as their terrestrial cousins.

I might be in the minority when I say let XM and Sirius merge. Right now, FM and AM radio is competing against two aggressive satellite radio companies. With the merger approved it will be just one and in theoretical terms that should be good for terrestrial radio-only one competitor vs. two.

All this competition is only the beginning. We have only begun to see the roll-out of personal audio devices, mobile and auto streaming, and technologies yet to be invented. I am not alone when I say content, content, content across multiple platforms--available anytime and anywhere.

At the end of the day these two pending issues will come down to politics. Who in Washington has the loudest voice AND the most money dedicated to the "education" of our lawmakers.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

It Starts Here...

BMW will be offering the option of in-dash unrestricted wireless internet in all of their Euro models this year. It will be on the EDGE system which is kinda slow but it's just the beginning. When they will bring the internet option to 3 Series near you, here in the US, is not known. Engadget had the complete story.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Another Look at the Future of Marketing

Leo Burnett is a marketing communications company that operates worldwide and works with some client names you know including: GM, Kellogg's, Hallmark, McDonald's and many more. They employ a futurist who has released this video predicting the future of marketing.

As we work to bring listeners into our store (radio station) and to help our advertisers bring clients into their businesses this video provides some useful insights. The link to see this video in its original form is here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More From Phoenix

Undoubtedly sports radio fans know this guy.

Dan Patrick. He and Jimmy DeCastro were the breakfast session this morning at the Talk Media Conference. While radio is the centerpiece of their enterprise, they have multiple platforms they call home including a prominent spot on Sports Illustrated website. It's good to be a talent like Dan Patrick.

There's a lot to be learned from their strategy of being everywhere even if your brand isn't a big as Dan's.

Dave Ramsey was up next and if you have ever heard his show you know the kind of passion that comes through the radio. His talk here was equally as powerful.

Digital guru and radio host Kim Komando followed Dave and she talked about getting the digital strategy and tactics right. She drive a lot of hits to her own site to the tune of 10 millions hits per month.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

So, What's Going On?

The RAB released the January revenue figures that, to say the least, were not very good.

Here's the bad news:

Jan. 2008 vs. Jan. 2007

Local Revenue All Markets -5%
National Revenue All Markets -13%
Local & Nat'l Revenue All Markets -7%
Non-Spot Revenue All Markets 11%
Grand Total Revenue All Markets -6%

Local and national revenues are based on approximately 150 markets as reported by the accounting firm of Miller Kaplan Arase & Co. Non-Spot data has been collected and verified since January of 2002, and reported since September of 2004. As previously announced, the RAB will report quarterly Radio revenue in dollar amounts beginning with the 2007 results. Monthly percentage growth rates will continue to be available on the RAB website at The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) is the sales and marketing arm of the Radio industry with nearly 7,000 members including close to 6,000 stations in the U.S., and over 1,000 associate members in networks, representative firms, sales, and international organizations.

As you can see the only bright spot was non-spot revenue which increased 11% year over year. It's good to see that "new media" is getting some traction, but we all know this is not going to compensate for the spot revenue loss.

Is this a double whammy for radio? A soft ad market coupled with an uncertain economy? Could be. But these numbers hit like a ton of bricks.

One thing struck me as I was reading these numbers, right at the top of the release is the RAB logo, contact information and "slug line."

230 Million people listen to radio every week. One would think a platform that robust would have more business than they could handle. Obviously, there's much more to this story than total users--like perceptions, predispositions, people, content, buzz, momentum, structure, competition, etc.

I read in one of the trades that some radio managers said the next couple months were looking better...I hope so.

On The Road In Phoenix

Hopped a plane today to attend Al Peterson's Talk Media Conference. The opening keynote speech was Paul Harvey Jr. He has been writing "The Rest of the Story" for his dad Paul Harvey Sr. for 30 years and has been behind the mic many times himself over the years as well.

He talked about the need for unique content, and to have it written and produced to the highest standards. He criticized some of the "lesser" content on the radio and suggested the industry was in dire need of writers and producers to bring the content to life. He also spoke of a day when some longer term broadcasters might re-enter the broadcasting business and commit to broadcast excellence. He's certainly not the first person to speak similar words and he won't be the last.

It's hard to argue that our industry would benefit from these suggestions, but, given today's thrifty environment it's hard to imagine any of it happening in the near term.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Save The 18-24's!

A multimedia podcast-Why 18-24's are pivotal to radio's future success

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Radio Donna Turns You On

I can't resist posting this. Not exactly the standard issue CHR spot one might see here in the US. Although, I seem to remember seeing this spot done for another station or another product. If you know the history let us know.

From Radio Donna in Brussels:

Certainly attention getting!

OK, hopefully that made you laugh a little. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog. While I have you, please let me remind you to check out a post from the end of the day Friday that you might have missed. Be sure to look at "Unlocking Cool" - an outstanding slide show that we can all learn something from.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Jane Fonda Ruckus

One of my favorite sites TV Newser recounted the Jane Fonda C-Word incident:

Friday Feb 15, 2008
Jane Fonda: What's All The Ruckus?

Jane Fonda talked to US Magazine about letting the "C" word drop yesterday on Today.

"I didn't even think," Fonda, 70, added. "I'm sorry if I offended anybody ... I think it's pretty silly."

If you missed it and feel so inclined Click here to see the video...

So, if this happened on a morning radio show what do you think would happen? Riiiightttt.

Unlocking Cool

Trendhunter Magazine put together an amazing presentation-Unlocking Cool. This is so relevant for the radio industry-especially now, when a little bit of cool would go a long way. Please forward this post to everyone you work with, acquaintances, and friends. Yes, it's that good!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More XM/Sirius DOJ Rumors

Seeking Alpha a stock opinion and analysis web site has yet another article speculating about when the DOJ will announce whether the XM/Sirius merger is a go or not. It seems every week the speculation meter starts to rise only to be back at zero by weeks end. What I found interesting about this article is that it chronicles all of the possible stipulations that Justice might impose on the merged company as a condition of approval.

As you read through the list see if you can identify which interested parties might have requested some of the stipulations. If I had a prize closet I would award a prize.

• offer a smaller package at a monthly price lower than the current basic package, with additional channels being offered on an à la carte basis, similar to what the companies agreed to do in the spring, with the final details to be negotiated;
• move all “indecent” programming from the basic package to à la carte offerings;
• freeze prices for some period of time;
• assure that the radios currently being used by subscribers continue to receive the satellite signals;
• provide some minimum amount of public interest programming;
• address exclusive deals for content or equipment in some way;
• make interoperable radios (that work on both XM and Sirius systems) commercially available by a date certain; and
• make the satellite radios interoperable with HD (High Definition) radio.

Any way, the gist of the article was to point out that the rumors of a decision
were starting to percolate again. We'll see.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DOJ Approves Clear Channel Deal

From Reuters:

Reuters U.S. Company News
5:22 p.m. 02/13/2008

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. antitrust authorities said on Wednesday they had conditionally approved the proposed buyout of U.S. radio operator Clear Channel Communications Inc (CCU) by two private equity firms.

The Justice Department said it would not oppose the acquisition of San Antonio, Texas-based Clear Channel by private equity firms Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners, as long as Clear Channel divested radio stations in four U.S. cities. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

From Dow Jones News Service:

Dow Jones Real-Time News for InvestorsSM
5:29 p.m. 02/13/2008

By Corey Boles and Shira Ovide

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--The U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday it would require radio station company Clear Channel Communications Inc. (CCU) to sell stations in four cities in order to win approval for its sale to two private-equity houses.

In a statement, the Department of Justice's antitrust division said it would approve the deal taking the nation's largest owner of radio stations private once the divestitures were complete.

Clear Channel is being bought by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, two private-equity firms, in a complicated $19.5 billion transaction.

The Department of Justice approval is the last regulatory hurdle to the Clear Channel sale being concluded. It earlier won conditional approval from the Federal Communications Commission, again with the obligation to sell some stations first.

The four markets where the Department of Justice said Clear Channel must sell stations are Cincinnati, Houston, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

"Without the divestitures obtained by the department, advertisers that rely on radio advertising in the affected cities likely would have faced higher prices," said Thomas O. Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of the department's antitrust division. "The divestitures will ensure that advertisers will continue to receive the benefits of competition."

No Static At All

Remember the movie "FM"? Released in 1978, it wasn't what one would call a blockbuster; but for those of us who loved Steely Dan, Linda Ronstadt, and radio we were thrilled.

IMDB provides the plot line:
Q-SKY is the #1 radio station in Los Angeles mainly because of the music they play, and running the station the way they want to. It has led them to a ratings success. The interesting radio personalities include: Jeff Dugan, rebellious head of the radio station; Mother, who is burned out from being a DJ; Eric Swan, a self centered romantic who wants more than just being a DJ; The Prince of Darkness, the hip night DJ; and Laura Coe, the easy-going type. The movie focuses on the battle between Jeff and his corporate bosses, who want more advertising and less music.
A lot has changed and then again not much at all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Fight For The Dashboard

The first in-car radio was in a 1936 Buick; ever since then the radio has held a prominent spot in dashboards. Later came the addition of 8 tracks, cassettes, CD's, cell phones, XM and Sirius, and rear seat video systems. Just a few short years ago, an input jack was added to many car models so the consumer could plug in their iPod or other mp3 player.

What does the future hold for dashboard entertainment? For terrestrial radio this is the billion dollar question given the huge percentage of radio listening that takes place in the car. Reuters has a story that suggests the dashboard of the future will be less about built-ins and more about plug-ins.

"The car of the future will have the necessary chargers, iPod mounts, and ports for navigation and even the Internet, rather than a factory-installed all-in-one system".
Does that mean that radio will still have a prominent place right there in the middle of the dash or will the car of the future simply feature ports, an amp, a flat screen and speakers spread through the car? The long-term answer to that question is unclear. I would guess the standard radio featuring AM, FM, and more and more, Satellite Radio will be included in the dash for quite some time to come.

"...the car industry can no longer hope to compete with consumer electronics' aggressive product cycles".

"Their best chance is to offer connectivity for the many gadgets on the market, pleasing customers who expect to be able to use the same devices they use at home and on the street".

Let's assume that things go along this path and instead of hard wiring new technologies into cars the automakers instead offer consumers the chance to plug in practically any device they choose; how long before Apple, Blackberry, and Nokia become the auto entertainment standard?

Ultimately, this will expedite how fast new technology goes from home and handheld right into the car. So, if you can do it on your handheld, you will be able to do it while you commute to and from work in your car. As long as it's convenient and easy broad consumer acceptance will come.

So while it makes sense to think the standard radio will be in the dashboard for a long time to come, the questions we all need to be asking are: will anybody want to turn it on and will radio's content be available on that device that will be attached to the dash?

Read the entire story here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Live From Atlanta-The RAB!

The RAB conference is underway in Atlanta and I believe it just might be the most important radio industry gathering of the year.

Right now there is nothing more important than growing revenue. Yes, we have significant programming challenges ahead, but until the revenue picture improves little or nothing will improve on the programming side.

Let's hope the attendees in Atlanta come up with some creative ways to jump start the sales effort. We're counting on them!

This year the RAB, I believe for the first time, is making the audio of all of the sessions available via live stream. You can listen in here.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Shocker: Wall Street Doesn't Like Radio!

Wanna feel sick?

The always outspoken Jim Cramer comments on the radio business on The Street.Com.

It's not pretty but definitely worth watching.

Click here to watch the Jim Cramer Video

I hope he's wrong!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Truth, Ignorance or Bluster?


Last Night On The Grammy's did you hear what Neil Portnow, the President/CEO of The Recording Academy had to say?

"We advocate for the rights of our music community in Washington , D.C. , and all across the country. This year, we will fight to pass legislation to once and for all ensure that, just like in every other developed country in the world, all music creators are compensated for their performances when played on traditional radio."

Seems like we will be hearing more and more on this subject. Stay tuned.

From Inside Radio:

Label chief Edgar Bronfman doesn’t seem to think radio’s much help. His company has this week’s #1 Top 40 song and last year’s biggest-selling CD, but Warner Music Group chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman doesn’t think radio had much to do with it. He says “In today’s interactive environment, terrestrial radio no longer has the dominant promotional role for music sales that it once had.” So he’s talking up a move in Congress to do away with radio’s royalty exemption. Bronfman says “The legislation’s goal is simple — requiring those who profit from the use of music to pay for its use. We look forward to working to achieve the same fair standard in the U.S. that exists around the world.” On a call with investors yesterday Bronfman noted radio pays royalties in all but five countries: China, Iran, North Korea, Rwanda and the United States. Warner Music, the third-biggest record label, saw its CD sales drop 28% in the fourth quarter as the company skidded to a loss. Lobbyists expect the royalty fight between labels and radio to drag on for years.

Truth, Ignorance or Bluster? You make the call. I will say this: what better way to improve your bottom line than by trying to collect royalty payments from radio stations-the medium that uses your product to the tune of millions of spins every year.

Do we need to prove our worth? What would happen if stations (and it would have to be all stations) for a week or even a day stopped player their product? We'd better be prepared for the answer to that question. Whatever that answer might be.

On the one hand, how dare the labels kick their long time marketing partner in the teeth. After all, they have had free access to the airwaves all these years and sold a lot of records because of the promotion and airplay. No doubt radio has had lots of great music to play and it has served us very well too. But, on the other hand there are far more places to discover music today and while I still believe we continue to hold on to a dominant music discovery position one has to wonder, just a little, if Bronfman's comments are made looking through his crystal ball into the future.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Well, you gotta hand it to Emmis! What was the least likely format to pop up in New York? OK, OK -I know it's country (despite the fact that I believe Country could be a consistent 2.5-3.0 share in NY). Well after country it would be another rock station, a triple A station no less.

Radio-Info had the story this afternoon:
"The New York Rock Experience" - WRXP - may provide the tri-state area with the full-market adult alternative station that it's lacked. Emmis PD Blake Lawrence even promises that the on-air personalities and staff will "play a direct part in choosing the music", from artists like Franz Ferdinand, Springsteen, Nirvana, Coldplay, U2, Pearl Jam, the Who and Radiohead. First song today at 4pm: Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground's Rock and Roll, followed by what Emmis says is the world premiere of a new REM track titled Supernatural Superserious. WRXP replaces smooth jazz WQCD - which had been rumored to be on the market for sale by Emmis. The new website is here.
A few questions come to mind:
  • Are there enough sophisticated rock listeners in NY to drive a enough cume to the frequency?
  • Will the coalition of new music, classic rock, and alternative form a viable hybrid? (And I truly love hybrids)
  • Where is the audio stream? It seems a little behind the curve to launch without it.
  • With Smooth Jazz gone in NY, does this in effect issue a death sentence for the format nationally?
  • How much of WQCD's African-American audience (about 1/3) migrates over to WRKS (98.7) to further bolster its ratings?
  • Will WRXP's promise of personalities being involved in music selection:
    • flash back to the prog rock era of jock programmed shows or simply will they have a vote in the music meetings?
    • will this tactic be communicated over the air as a listener benefit?
    • will the masses care?
These are not naysayer questions--to the contrary. But anytime a big signal New York station does something outside the lines one has to ask the questions. I am happy to see someone taking a chance and doing something I would have to say is surprising.

We'll all be watching!

Wanna Chip In?

Got an upcoming charity event or worthwhile cause you are trying to raise money for? Here's an easy way for your listeners to "chip in". It's a simple widget that can be added to a website or blog.

Of course, it can be used to raise money for just about anything. On the popular, a live self broadcast video site, I saw a woman trying (and successfully) asking people to chip in so she could buy an i-Phone. She was about half-way to her goal! For $20.00 someone convinced her to eat a teaspoon of cinnamon. If you search You Tube you can see others trying to do it and it's not easy or a pleasant experience.

It's goofy and fun and people are watching. Check out and you will catch some radio shows broadcasting on there as well.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Last week Microsoft announced an unsolicited mega billion dollar offer to buy Google says it might want to team up with Yahoo in some sort of deal or try to stop the Microsoft deal altogether...CNBC reports that AOL now might be in play because everyone else is in play. There will be deals done in this space and no matter what deals are done it is not good for radio.

The genesis of Yahoo's problems is not traffic but sales. Yahoo has lots of users but has failed to monetize their traffic. Advertising revenue is the engine that has been driving Google and killing Yahoo. At the same time, Google continues to grow, innovate, invest, and dream up new ways to be a part of your world; while Yahoo's much touted new sales platform was troubled from the start and failed.

The biggest on-line players will ultimately get bigger, better, stronger, and more competitive over time. And that doesn't account for what is being cooked up in someones garage right now that will change everything all over again. While we in the radio business continue to hold on to our 1980's music machine and spot model.

Not only are our music positions at risk, but the very lifeblood of every station, our spots, are at risk too. And right now your LOCAL ADVERTISERS can advertise FOR FREE on Google. I know. I did it. And it took less than 5 minutes to set up. They call it the Local Business Center.

So if someone did a search for my company, Harve Alan Media, this is what they got in Google Maps-a likely place a consumer would end up if they were searching for a local furniture store.

From there they could choose 'more info' and get this:

How about coupons? No problem:

Attract new customers by creating a coupon for your business. Creating a coupon is free, and only takes a few minutes. You can create as many coupons as you want. Coupons will appear along with your business listing in Google Maps.

I'm not suggesting we have all been sitting around doing nothing to address the problems, but innovation has been slow to come especially when compared with our competitors in the on-line content and advertising space.

BTW-how long before Google starts charging for those free ads?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Let's Go To The Movies

IMMI reports young moviegoers are heavier radio users than non moviegoers-virtually double. That sounds pretty encouraging until you read the chart-it illustrates that the average 13-24 year old moviegoer listens to the radio a paltry 49 minutes per week. With the non-moviegoer only spending 25 minutes listening per week.

Only 7% of frequent moviegoers don't listen to the radio; while nearly 65% of frequent moviegoers are heavy or medium users. Of the non moviegoers, nearly 50% of that group are either light radio listeners or don't listen at all.

IMMI, Integrated Media Measurement Inc based this report on its panel of 13-24 year olds in IMMI’s Research Panel across six major DMA’s.

IMMI itself suggests at the end of their piece:

"Advertisers looking for the avid moviegoers can reach most of them through radio."

Let's turn that around a little stations looking to increase its listenership can reach strong prospects at the movies. While usage is light by traditional radio measures, it does represent an opportunity to market to notoriously difficult people to reach.

Invited Guest and Volunteer

On Saturday I was an invited guest at The Conclave's board meeting here in Minneapolis. It was a day-long meeting talking about among other things the upcoming summer learning conference. As always, it will be an excellent convention. Take a look at The Conclave website for what's lined up so far for the conference June 26-28.

One of the things that struck me about this organization is just how serious they are about living up to the organizations mission statement.

“Through education, the Conclave’s mission is to improve the quality of broadcasting and related industries so they may better serve the public interest."

Thanks to Tom Kay for the invite.