This email hit my in box today:
In his latest Lefsetz Letter, that relentlessly negative industry blogger, Bob Lefsetz, made the following “prediction” about the future of terrestrial radio, which he called “ a dying medium for music.”
Here’s what he said:
“The stations are overleveraged, or already in bankruptcy, and they're cutting back infrastructure and banking on 20-plus minutes of commercials per hour. You're supposed to double down, innovate in a crisis. But terrestrial radio has done just the opposite. It's dying, and it will never come back. In a world where no one experiences a commercial they don't want to, do you really expect people to listen to what you tell them and be sold to every third minute? You're dreaming.
“Terrestrial radio will be about news and talk, those elements that are immediate,” he continues.
“Music's been recorded previously, there's no urgency to sit through the b.s. to hear what you want to.”
I’m reaching out to a handful of smart people to get a rebuttal or response to Bob’s opinion, and was hoping you might have a few minutes to make a short comment between now and Wednesday for a story in Stark Country/Radio-Info.com.
Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
Executive Editor, Country Music
Lucky for me, you don't even need to be a smart person to debunk this line of thinking. Facts trump baseless assertions every time.
In just the last eight weeks here are a few other statements Bob made:
* "The number one thing a fan wants? To be able to go backstage."
* "Music used to be regional."
* "Most of what the major labels create is not fully desirable. It’s made to run up the radio chart, not to do live business."
* "The younger generation has embraced Led Zeppelin, can they ever embrace the Moody Blues? I think so."
* "The hardest thing to do in this business is find a hit act."
* "The Black Eyed Peas tour is a stiff."
* "Cadillac driver? Must be an oldster."
* "Rock and roll doesn’t work on TV."
A provocateur requires no facts to back up his outrageous and over-the-top statements. He's just trying to elicit a response. He is a verbal terrorist, setting off written explosions in hopes someone will panic. Lefsetz, in my experience, never likes anything that's mass appeal or popular. The best way to make him disappear is to ignore him.
Arbitron's 2009 Edition of "Radio Today" has 109 pages of facts and data which demonstrates the continuing story for radio overall is its remarkable, enduring reach. Far more than 90% of all consumers aged 12 and older listen to the radio each week—a higher penetration than television, magazines, newspapers or the Internet. PPM-measured data does show average quarter-hour (AQH) ratings were lower than what would otherwise have been reported using an all-Diary methodology. At-home AQH ratings in Fall 2008 were 22.2% below those in Spring 2007, while away-from-home figures were 18.8% lower. These differences should not be regarded as actual declines or losses in listening, but as a shift in measurement methodology.
Lefsetz may see that as signs of impending death, but I sure do not. Despite availability of numerous media alternatives, radio’s weekly reach declined only modestly in the past several years,from 94.9% in Spring 2001, when the iPod®was introduced, to 91% in Fall ’08, according to the latest ARB national ratings data.
Nielsen, The Media Audit, Edison Research, Bridge Ratings, Eastlan/FMR, BBM and many other researchers and numerous studies around the world corroborate these trends. Music radio tends to drive even stronger usage in metered measurement than it has in diaries.
The CMA' s 2nd Annual Study of Country Music Consumers, which will be made public at CRS-41 is just the latest in many, many proofs that country music radio remains - by far - the top source of music discovery for country music's Prime Prospects.
Allow me to add my voice to the chorus of folks crying "B-S" to Lefsetz's screed. The possibility of his predictions coming true anytime in the next decade is about as good as running into John Hogan, Fareed and the Dickey Family at Jerry Delcolliano's "Future of Media" seminar.
Jaye Albright, Consulting Partner,
Albright & O'Malley Country Consulting/RadioIQ
PS: do YOU have something to say to me, Phyllis or Bob Lefsetz? Please post a comment below!
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