Spacial Audio Solutions, an audio technology and software company, is giving free Internet radio stations to 50 newly unemployed radio industry professionals. Calling these giveaways Radio Bailouts in reference to the recent government bank bailout, Spacial Audio says “the value of the Spacial Radio Bailout is $3.7 million, with each recipient able to acquire up to $75,000 of services and software – free!” So far 30 people have been awarded their radio bailout.
Each person receives the tools to start streaming an internet radio station, including Spacial Audio’s radio automation system, ad insertion software and bandwidth for 500 concurrent streams for up to 5 years. Presumably, if the individual grows the station audience to more than that, they would be expected to purchase additional bandwidth. “After someone is relieved of their job, hearing them say ‘Wow! Thank you for the awesome gift! I’ve always dreamed of starting my own radio station and now you’ve helped me attain it!’* is as good as it gets. This is the next generation of radio owners.” says Spacial Audio CEO Bryan Payne.
To qualify, you must have been employed by a radio station for at least 12 months and lost your job since July 1, 2008. The package is non-transferable, and Spacial Audio may claim up to 30% of the ad inventory on the station for their ad network. To register, click here.
This is a great opportunity for out of work radio folks to learn how to run an Internet radio station. It’s also a great way for Spacial Audio to grow its network, and get some great press at the same time. The people lucky enough to get that package will be knowledgeable in the radio business and likely to be successful in Internet radio as well – and they’ll probably be pretty loyal paying customers in the future for Spacial Audio Solutions!
Internet radios certainly made the hot topic list at this year’s CES held last week in Las Vegas. Everyone was talking about new devices that allow listeners to stream their favorite station. Lots of companies introduced new streaming devices: Philips, Acoustic Research, RCA/Audiovox, and VTECH. Chumby‘s tiny Internet radio/Alarm Clock was even featured as part of Sony Chairman Howard Stringer’s keynote address. Sony will produce a next generation Dream Machine alarm clock in partnership with Chumby. According to sources including the blog Paid Content, Stringer said that in two years 90% of Sony devices will have connectivity.
In addition to streaming table top and stereo devices, Blaupunkt and miRoamer made news and a few “best of show” lists with an announcement of an in-dash Internet car radio – gaining kudos from industry blog Venture Beat and Popular Mechanics award for innovation. And mobile streaming platform Flycast was featured by PC World as one of the best products at the show as well.
Thanks to Internet radio, technology and electronics are taking a second glance at radio. During his speech, Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro said Radio is deeply ingrained in the U.S. culture. According to website mysanantonio.com, Shapiro said, “Radio in the 1930s lifted the economy out of the Great Depression.” People listened to news and entertainment and drew hope and inspiration from the broadcasts, he said. Today, radio continues to play an important role in the consumer electronics industry, which generated $1 trillion in economic activity globally last year, Shapiro said.
I’m not sure if Internet radio will lift the economy out of our current misery, but it sure is looking more and more like it might be one of the few bright spots in 2009 and that’s a very good prospect.
Faced with the recession and falling revenues, the radio industry has begun to sell online assets with some success. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, in the first three quarters of this year the radio industry has grown off-air revenues, which mainly include online and promotional dollars, at a rate of 9%. During the same period, local and national revenues dropped at the same rate of 9% (against a much larger number). You can read more in business publication Seeking Alpha.
This trend is good news none to soon given that radio revenue projections for 2009 are bleak. According to Mark Fratrik, VP, BIA Industry Services, “the industry will weather the storm providing it strategically invests in its online presence, which will prove to be its rescue as ad budgets continue to shift to more measurable online media.”
The words “measurable online media” are key to the future development of online sales for the radio industry. The advertising industry is shifting dollars toward measured results and away from generic “branding” – and the ongoing recession is accelerating that trend.
Online Recession will be mild
This week eMarketer pulled back on an earlier projection of 14.5% for interactive revenue growth to a more modest 8.9% for 2009. According to an article in The Economist, the recession for online advertising will be a mild one due to the fact that online advertising blends branding with “below the line” advertising because it can be measured and tracked to consumer purchases. The article cites an example from Randall Rothenberg of the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) of a “rich-media ad for Kraft, … in which a yummy image raises brand awareness, a click reveals a recipe that increases consideration, another click provides coupons and yet another click initiates a game that can be shared with friends.”
There’s an enormous opportunity for radio to develop creative cross platform opportunities that can drive traffic and provide measureable results for advertisers. The win is that once you provide those measurable results, you become a far more essential, recession-proof element of the ad budget.