Thursday, January 08, 2009

Music And Radio Business 2010: Which Is More Profitable - Own 10,000 Radio Stations? Or, One Passionate Fan?

Today's economy is teaching each of us that, like it or not, we're all business managers.

No one can be trusted to manage your career, future and finances other than you.

Meanwhile, never before has it been so important to know what business you are in and at the same time so difficult to see what the future holds.

For example, while our audience is going up, revenues are going down.

Arbitron's Radar 99 National Radio Listening Report just found that radio reaches more than 234 million persons age 12 and older over the course of a typical week up from 232 million previously.

Meanwhile, BIA Financial Network reports that for the second consecutive year radio revenue is expected to drop 7 percent this year to $16.7 billion, the lowest total in more than five years and next year radio revenue could plummet 10 percent, going as low as $15 billion. Positive growth isn't forecast until 2010 with a very modest 1.5 percent uptick.

The music business is in an even more tenuous position. "While music is more widespread and more easily available than ever in history," well-known marketing thought-leader and author Seth Godin points out that "music and songs and musicians aren't going away, but the business of fairly anonymous labels that have no brand or direct connection directly with listeners, extracting 80%, 90%, even 100% of the profits from the musician, that is clearly going away."

Godin has been accurately predicting the future, guiding business in a series of prescient best-sellers like Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick),and his latest one, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us and he'll be sharing his insights with attendees to the Country Radio Seminar this year (click for more info).

The future Godin sees for music and radio, as quoted in researcher Mark Ramsey's Hear 2.0 blog: "You could own 1,000 stations or 10,000 stations, each one of them could be the best in somebody's world. I think 'the win' for the music business is to realize that music is a chance to spread an idea. My fear is that there's too much nostalgia in the music business for them to grab a hold of that quickly."

Godin, about his new book: "So what's missing today is not that we don't have enough tribes, it's that we don't have enough people to lead them, and that is the opportunity I talk about in the book, particularly to people who already have a platform, who already are speaking to numbers of people, who already are trying to make something change.

"The opportunity is to realize that what you do for a living now is not interrupt the masses but instead lead and connect a tribe. The worst enemy of a radio station is the Arbitron ratings (and perhaps a mass appeal hit song for a label or an artist?) because they force you to abandon the tribe."

Take it from me: you need to be at CRS-40 in Nashville to hear Seth Godin’s take on our future, YOUR future. And, of course, please also come to A&O's Annual Pre-CRS Seminar as well.

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