I grew up with radio. It was how I heard the newest records. Yes, I’m “old.” Just ask my kids. But being a baby-boomer doesn’t mean I have given up my love for music discovery. It’s the reason I do The Colorado Sound – it’s that insane sense of discovering new music, and new artists from here in Colorado. I’m very happy that there are five terrestrial radio signals in the state that broadcast my show today … and as far as internet goes? It’s still too expensive for me to launch – royalties and all you know.
The past decade I’ve touted the internet as the new radio – one that opens up the playbook and has allowed us all to discover music that many in radio just “knew” would have people turning the dial away from new and onto nostalgia. That’s how radio got safe.
Research dictated that the older a person became the more likely they would stick with the music of their high school and college days – music that recalled what it felt like to be young .. music that gave us an escape from the pressures of responsible adulthood. And for the most part the research is true.
As I sit watching the audiences at the live shows I do sound for – I recognize that nostalgia pays off. Funk bands playing the hits of Parliament and/or the Funkadelics get people from 21-60+ on the dance-floor. Classic (pre 1980) country bands today appeal to those longing for a return to the past, as well as those searching for the purity / the origins of more modern sounding music.
But, is radio dead or dying as some would believe? All the current research shows that 86% of people still get connected to new music via broadcast radio. Local public radio stations like KRFC Fort Collins and Colorado Public Radio’s “Open Air 1340” have made strong statements supporting locally and regionally produced music. Or, is the internet destroying local radio, as my friend Pete Simon expresses in this view?
WHY PANDORA IS KILLING RADIO
Just throwing out this question: Across the stretches of the Front Range, and through mountain hamlets — some with a community radio station nearby — isn’t there SOMETHING about “localism” that will save the day for radio in Colorado?
Pandora has been hit with a lot bad news lately, but I can cheer them up.
The radio industry never misses an opportunity to denigrate a competitor that goes on to kick their ass.
Terrestrial radio did it with satellite radio.
They are doing it with the mobile Internet that the next generation loves and radio thinks is an add-on.
And radio is doing it again right now to Pandora.
Look, any company that attracts over a 100 million subscribers – the vast majority of whom absolutely love the service is a better business than radio which is no longer local and run by a bunch of Wall Street thieves.
Yes, I am a Pandora shareholder. I always like to tell you that so you can take what I say with a grain of salt. And I have lost half the value of my Pandora stock and I’m holding it just in case you don’t want to take what I have to say with a grain of salt.
Pandora is going to kill local radio.
Even in spite of the draconian music royalty fees they must pay the record labels to use music.
Even in spite of the fact that they don’t have a tower and transmitter in every city. Of course, radio consolidators do and they are falling all over themselves to do remote radio far away from the local market.
Radio’s Pandora problem is going to bite the industry in the butt.
Let me tell you the ways:
1. More and more former radio listeners are opting for Pandora and their many competitors like Spotify to give them a more customized experience. Pandora gets bigger every month and their listeners think it is cool. Radio gets smaller every month bolstered only by drive-by PPM ratings that aren’t real.
2. Even as I write this, Pandora is aggressively hiring great radio people away from the top broadcast groups. Three stolen from Clear Channel in New York and one big seller from another operator in Detroit within the past few weeks. The arrogance of consolidators to think their best sales people will continue to put up with poor treatment. Consolidators are making it easier to hire away their people as they do less local programming. Pandora is poaching your best assets! Ignore this at your own peril.
3. Pandora is coming up with a better ratings system. Radio has Arbitron’s PPM and Edison is doing some great and credible radio-type research for Pandora. While Clear Channel and a few other consolidators prop up their custom ratings company, Pandora is inventing a better way to show its growing reach. Radio has never been an industry to want competition in ratings so they are in Arbitron’s hands all the way down.
4. Pandora will not die from this disease called record industry greed because if Pandora goes under, the record industry loses its number one source of music royalty income stream. So the labels will have to relent over time and give Pandora more reasonable rates. Radio on the other hand is facing a new performance royalty that their own NAB CEO is pushing so while Pandora is likely to get royalty relief down the road, radio is about to get saddled with more royalty fees. Bet on it.
5. Pandora has picked up on the music discovery passion former radio listeners have even as radio stations continue to offer bland, corporate playlists. And radio has fired the personalities and music experts who curated local music for listeners. No wonder Pandora is so popular. Pandora is about music discovery and radio is about repetition.
There is an air of arrogance in the radio industry again perhaps fueled by the moneylenders who think they are such a big deal.
But as I always say, follow the consumer and you will never go wrong.
Consumers prefer Pandora-type customizable music discovery “radio” over the real deal because ironically enough radio is no longer the “real deal”.
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