Radio Isn’t Pandora and Pandora Isn’t Radio

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Ev...

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Streaming music platforms are getting a lot of attention lately. Pandora’s been growing its audience at an impressive rate, MOG, rdio and others are getting funding, former radio personalities are showing up on Internet radio, and lots of folks are talking about it.

It’s a groundswell that started, like many do, as a teeny tiny trend that many folks said would never take off. Back in 2003 when I started Net Radio Sales (now Katz360), the other guys were starting RL Radio (now Targetspot). Arbitron was shutting down its streaming measurement platform (called Measurecast). And revenue was tough to come by.

That’s not the case anymore. Investment money is flowing into online music platforms, and Pandora recently announced a plan for an IPO to raise $100 million. Audiences are growing fast. Targetspot recently told Inside Radio that their revenues were up 75% over last year. The future looks bright and getting brighter.

But all of this seems to have thrown radio broadcasters off of their game. Instead of focusing on their core competencies, they can’t take their eyes off of Pandora or Slacker, or another streaming music platform. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots to like about those platforms. They can deliver unique personalized streams and targeted ads to registered listeners, and that’s a great thing.

But they aren’t a replacement for broadcast radio. They’re not local and their not personable. They’re not…human.

In developing their online streaming presence, Radio broadcasters should focus on the human aspects of their programming. Concentrate on talent, news, and excellent programming. Not programming for the highest cume, but for the happiest and most engaged listeners. Interact with those listeners in meaningful ways, and give them ways to interact with the station and each other. Create fun and interesting blogs, side channels, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages that listeners can love. And please, register those users.

Stop thinking about what Pandora is and trying to be that, instead think about what they aren’t and play that card…

3 responses

  1. Jennifer, I couldn’t agree more about the differentiation between Pandora/Slacker/MOG and AM/FM radio and even online-only radio stations. We could list a litany of items that radio has which music services do not have such as DJs, sports play by play, live news coverage, and talk shows. There is certainly a place for both radio and music services in the world of audio entertainment. Our company, TuneIn Radio, works with our broadcaster partners to develop ways to expand their reach and promote the unique content they produce on a daily basis. The challenge is figuring out how to make monetization work for today’s users listening on phones, connected home entertainment systems, and connected car radios.

  2. The way I see it is streaming music services are for those people who do not listen to radio anymore.

    Radio is playing fewer songs these past several years and it is all about research. Radio has seen the numbers where a smaller song list helped increase the listener base. Whether this is a temporary gain in listeners remains to be scene, but that is what the statistics show so that is what radio models after.

    Radio lost me years back to cds and I don’t think there is one thing radio could do to make me go back. Streaming music does one major thing that radio can’t and won’t, which is I can put in an artist and get to hear a lot of other similar artists that I would never have come across otherwise.

    So yeah, radio and streaming services aren’t the same because they don’t offer the same services.

  3. As a long time broadcaster in radio I’m with you 100%. This is the same message I’ve been telling people for the last few years. Radio as we know it has been circling the drain for some time now, it’s time to stand up, toss aside “focus group approved playlists” and canned jock tracks creating cookie cutter radio stations from coast to coast. Radio’s strength is in the fact that it can still be the campfire we gather round to tell stories, get local info from, and feel connected to each other in an increasingly separated society. Sadly, all too many programmers don’t understand this and instead keep digging into their same bag of tricks, time and time again only to lose more and more market share at every turn. So it goes….

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