"Personalized" Radio is Industry's Next Hurdle
Let's place a bet. You're the bookmaker. What odds will you give me that at least one terrestrial radio station will start airing a positioning statement similar to "10X.3 - Personalized Rock Radio, your way"?
Continuing with our little game, let's say that you, still as the bookmaker, just found out there's a new internet radio service that allows a listener to "enter an artist in the search window to create a station based on music from that artist and from similar artists." This service is Wi-Fi based and portable (like an iPod). And it's just another in a growing list of internet radio stations that "personalize" playlists. Are you going to give me the same odds against the forementioned bet? This is just a guess, but after the trend to tell listeners a station was on "shuffle" so soon after iPod released its "Shuffle," I'd say look for the "personalized" references from terrestrial radio sooner rather than later. Slacker has been introduced, and its "personalize" feature is the "shuffle" for 2007. Personalized radio is the latest internet radio industry buzzword. The concept goes much deeper than can be explained here, but it boils down to listeners telling a station what type of music they want. Over a short time, the listener narrows down what's played for them to songs they believe are all hot tunes.
Slacker is the latest in personalized internet radio. Last FM is out there along with Pandora and a few others. The list is growing, and folks are tuning in because it gives "control" to the user. About Slacker, it does do a few extra neat tricks such as getting internet radio stations away from the computer - via a Wi-Fi refreshed portable unit that fits in your pocket. Now that personalized radio is becoming portable, look for these internet radio stations to start gaining audience, quickly, especially with youth. Read about Slacker through this link. Then start thinking how it's nearly a sure bet that we'll be hearing broadcast stations start making some reference to personlizing the station or listening experience. So, here's the bet now. What are the odds that in the next few years the perception that a playlist tailored to your taste will be the main reason a person chooses a station? My thoughts, pretty good. And, getting back to our earlier bet about broadcast radio, any takers that we'll start hearing personalized references on terrestrial radio within two months?
Direttamente riferibile alla questione dei contenuti personalizzati c'è questo altro commento di Audiographics sulle recenti polemiche a proposito delle tariffe che i detentori di copyright vorrebbero far pagare alle radio su Internet per la diffusione dei brani. Secondo Audiographics il discorso andrebbe esteso a quella che su Internet e nel mondo digitale è la materia più preziosa di tutte: la notorietà. La cosa che può spingere verso un artista poco conosciuto la folla dei consumatori multimediali. Anche ipotizzando di guadagnare il giusto, è la notorietà, la reputazione che può farti ricco col tempo. Secondo Audiographics a questo punto diventa opinabile (una questione da uovo e gallina) stabilire chi sta facendo un favore a chi. La radio che trasmettendo un brano poco conosciuto crea notorietà per l'autore? L'autore che riempiendo i palinsesti delle radio con buona musica attira nuove revenues pubblicitarie? La casa discografica che trae vantaggio dalla stessa notorietà generata da una Internet radio che paga la stessa casa discografica per poter diffondere i brani? Hmm. Uovo o gallina mi pare che qui ci sia sempre qualcuno che ci guadagna due volte... E non è quello che suona la chitarra o apre il Web stream. L'altro giorno ho seguito la diretta (Web) di Corriere.it con quell'angelo in terra di Giovanni Allevi. Alla domanda, che ne pensi della pirateria?, il pianista ha raccontato di un suo fan che gli ha scritto una mail per confessargli di aver scaricato un suo disco da una rete P2P e di essere rimasto talmente colpito dalla sua musica da decidere di "fare ammenda". «Ha comprato tutti i miei dischi per regalarli agli amici, non si è più perso un concerto. Se la pirateria è questa, viva la pirateria.» Non si chiama pirateria, è una macchina che produce reputazione. Piaccia o non piaccia è il concetto di disco, di casa discografica a essere saltato per aria. Come sistema per distribuire la musica, il disco ha funzionato bene per cento anni, ora non funziona più. Ma sono solo cavoli di chi i dischi si ostina a produrli, o che si ostina a vendere le registrazioni digitali come se fossero i cilindri di cera di Edison. La musica, i musicisti, gli ascoltatori, le stazioni radio, analogiche, digitali, via satellite, via Internet, i podcaster, lo hanno capito da un pezzo. Le case discografiche e le associazioni a tutela dei diritti d'autore (che somigliano ogni giorno di più a inutili e costosissimi partiti politici) no. Più presto si abitueranno meno duro sarà il risveglio.
"Chicken or the Egg?" for Internet Radio Industry
This is just beginning to surface as online radio stations play unsigned acts, and it's a question closest to the one about "the chicken or the egg." Does an artist gain recognition from producing a great record, or is it the exposure radio gives a great record that generates recognition? I recently had a discussion with one person who believes all recording artists should be paid by any radio station that uses their music. It's a concept which I have trouble accepting, and here's why: Done right, radio is much more than music. There are many elements besides the songs that give a station - online or broadcast - its personality. Given that most similarly-formatted stations play the same songs, a high ranking station gets there because of what's played after the music stops.
A song is introduced to the audience in similar manner regardless of the station, though. Rotation is slow to start. Increased exposure comes only after it's proven the audience likes it. This person who voiced concern that all artists should be compensated for any music played argues that all music has value; it attracts an audience. (Mentioned here the other day: "What is a song worth, and why should a popular song be worth the same as one that's only so-so?") Let's twist this into reality. A radio station provides the platform that gives musicians a chance to be heard. It places their product in front of a group of people. This is defined as advertising. Bottom line is that if acts want their songs heard, they may go to the record labels in hopes to get backing under reasonable terms; or they can provide their music to online radio stations in exchange for the exposure the stations offer.
So is it the chicken or the egg?
Good numbers do not come solely from playing good music. There are costs to building an audience that negate the money due an artist before their song is accepted by the public. What's packaged around the songs creates the relationship with a radio audience. It's the relationship that keeps people coming back to the same station - and that has value too! Independent artists can be made into stars if the online radio industry organizes an effort to distribute quality music. This will take time, but it will also take a lot less money than paying the new royalty rates.
Check RRadioMusic. It lists artists who have signed waivers giving radio stations the right to play their music in exchange for the exposure it brings. These musicians realize they must advertise their work to gain recognition, and they've chosen to pay for that advertising by trading royalty payments for play. If the public starts accepting a band's music, royalty payments are due. Although, who judges this is up in the air for now. (My suggestion would be that the musicians contact SoundExchange. They will get a response only after SoundExchange recognizes there's a market for that band's music.) The above describes willing sellers meeting willing buyers in a free market system - exactly what the Copyright Royalty Board declared as its must-meet criteria, which molded their latest decision. Chicken or egg? If online radio stations start playing independent artists' music and making their own stars, the chicken wins.