A Fine Day For Internet Radio

 

Attendees to the RAIN Summit this week in Las Vegas were immersed in a deluge of discussions on Internet radio platforms, strategies, legal issues. The keynote addresses were delivered by two thought and execution leaders in the space – David Goodman, President of Digital Media and Marketing for CBSRadio, and Joe Kennedy, CEO of Pandora. Goodman provided an overview of their digital platform and strategy, including CBSRadio’s willingness to invest in the future with its major purchase of Last.fm. He humbly credited his boss Dan Mason with a futuristic approach that has driven them to create their impressive digital platform.

Kennedy was equally inspiring, talking about the way media must shift from a mindset of broadcasting one channel to thousands of people to a one to one approach that understands the way listeners wish to consume their media in the future. Both companies have seen remarkable success in the past year with their digital platforms, and have lead the space in terms of audience growth and innovation. They’ve also generated substantial buzz which has benefitted the industry as a whole.

rain-summit12Highlights from the five panels were too numerous to mention, so here are some random notes. On a panel about monetizing streaming audio, Jag Duggal of Google Audio provided hints of their new Internet radio ad platform which will resemble AdSense in many ways. Later he told me that within a month or so we’ll hear more. Cheryl Lucanegro talked about Pandora’s :10 audio units with banners or links that are seeing very high click through rates (.02 to .10).

On a panel about Performance Royalties, moderated by legal expert David Oxenford, Citadel’s John Rosso provided a very good explanation of the benefits and thoughts behind the recent negotiated settlement between NAB and Sound Exchange. Most interesting was his statement that his company is already monetizing streaming at a higher rate per listener hour than broadcast.

There were two panels discussing Internet radio’s new devices, mobile, automotive and tabletop. Bonneville’s Russell Banz noted that station’s shouldn’t have “digital strategies” separate from broadcast strategies at this point, rather, digital platforms are an essential part of any broadcaster’s strategy. RadioTime’s Dan Halyburton added that times are certainly tough, ad sales are challenging, but now is the time to move toward establishing a mobile platform.

There were so many industry wizards in the room it’s hard to mention them all: Cox’s Gregg Lindahl hosted a panel; Targetspot’s Perlson, Katz Online’s Benedik, and Triton’s Freund sat side by side to discuss revenue strategies; Online stations like Radio Paradise and Digitally Imported shared their wisdom; the CEO of Goom Radio Rob Williams talked about their strategy; Bob Maccini of AndoMedia, Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Media, and Tom Webster of Edison Research gave excellent research presentations.  Kurt Hanson capped off the day by delivering his signature state of the industry talk, The Future of Radio, followed by a cocktail party by the pool.

I’ve been “around” Internet radio for a very long time now, since around 2001. There have been many frustrating days (years) waiting for audience to grow, advertisers to catch on, buzz to build. This week at the RAIN Summit the room was full of optimism, and everyone was bullish on the industry. It was a fine, fine day to be in Internet radio. If you were there, please comment on what you thought the highlights of the day were!

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