Thursday, January 28, 2010

Predictions That You Can Be Sure Are 100% Currect = Demographics

.. because the births which drive them have already happened.

The baby boom turns 64 this year.

On January 1, 1946, an 18 year period known as the post-war baby boom began. In 1946, 3.4 million children were born in the U.S. 78 million babies were born from 1946 to 1964: so, 10,000 people will turn 64 each day for the next ten years.

There are 68 million people who are 65+ today, 44 million are 33 to 44 and 72 million are under 32 (some would draw the cohort line a year or two younger than that today, calling them Millenials and positing that their defining years were the turn of the new century and 9/11).

Today's Gen Y and senior citizens are the biggest demo targets of 2010.

Common threads that reach both: fun, lifestyle and family. The smaller in number, but acquisitive age demos in between feel ignored and misunderstood.

Musical preference and attitude differences greatly outnumber similarities.

Fragmentation and niche marketing will continue to proliferate.

Finding common passions for Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts fans versus those who prefer Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn and George Strait is going to get to the point that it may become impossible soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kaiser: MP3 Players (41 minutes a day) #1 With Teens, Radio And Their Comupter #2 (32 Minutes Per Day)

The transformation of the cell phone into a media content delivery platform, and the widespread adoption of the iPod and other MP3 devices, have facilitated an explosion in media consumption among American youth. players.

A national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation
found that with technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access as children and teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth.

Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time 'media multitasking' (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds is the third in a series of large-scale, nationally representative surveys by the Foundation about young people's media use. It includes data from all three waves of the study (1999, 2004, and 2009), and is among the largest and most comprehensive publicly available sources of information about media use among American youth.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Free Nashville Concert For McGraw-Paltrow Flick (But, No Tim Performance)

A concert that is being filmed for the new country music movie Love Don’t Let Me Down, starring Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow and the public is invited (free).

The show and filming take place Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville. Extras should plan to stay from 4-11 PM.

McGraw will welcome the crowd but will not perform, since the scene being filmed is the big comeback concert of Paltrow’s character, superstar “Kelly Canter.”
Playing Kelly’s opening acts are Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester and Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy). The music being used is by Nashville tunesmiths. The Lost Trailers will also entertain fans with an acoustic set.

Admission is free and participants must be at least 18 years old. E-mail to request tickets. Concertgoers are encouraged to donate new or slightly worn shoes for Soles4Soul’s Haitian relief efforts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Taking Attendance In Baltimore

George Strait and Reba kicked off their co-headlining arena tour with Lee Ann Womack Friday night in Baltimore.

A Washington Post photographer and of course radio was there, but didn't any of the local papers or TV stations send a music reviewer? I guess that means they knew it would be a great show.

Many people may think this is the first time the superstars have toured together, but they actually shared the stage in the early 1980s, opening for Conway Twitty. We asked Reba what she remembers about that early tour together. “The first time George and I toured together was in the early 80s, opening the show for Conway Twitty,” notes Reba. “One weekend of the tour, I had flown into the city we were playing instead of riding the bus with the band and crew. I got a call from my tour manager and he said the bus had broken down and they were renting a school bus to get to the show. I asked them to be sure and get me an outfit out of my stateroom so I’d have something to wear at the concert that night. When we all met up at the show, they had gotten all the equipment, band gear, everything they needed to put on a show…except an outfit for me! I had to wear the same clothes I had flown in all day! George invited me to ride on his bus the next day. I sure enjoyed visiting with George and his group.” Needless to say, thankfully, Reba’s not having to worry about a bus breakdown this time around! -John Zarling, Valory Music Co.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What To Do When A Label Promotes Radio On NOT Playing A Song?

Music discovery still drives a lot of radio usage, so smart programmers aggressively play defense anytime another station or medium grabs a hot, new buzz track. Of course, you want your listeners to feel that they hear everything they might possibly love from your station, so they never need to worry that they might be missing anything during the time they spend with you.

Playing everything, obviously, isn't the way to do that. Judgment is part of a smart programmer's daily toolkit and choices must be made.

As record labels lose the highly-profitable CD album as their revenue source, they are trying alternative marketing techniques, many flying below the radar so as to avoid fan confusion on which of multiple current releases is "the hit."

Joe Nichols' label has been asking radio to play one song, an upbeat novelty, while Joe has been on TV talk shows, the video channels, online and in his concerts performing a very moving personal narrative which his fans have been calling radio, requesting.

Kenny Chesney cut a hot, fun tune for ESPN last fall that was released as a single to iTunes and other music download sites in December, just as his label is imploring radio to wait until Monday, February 8, for the release to radio of "Ain't Back Yet", which is from his 3D movie retrospective of last summer's arena tour. What listener wouldn't expect to hear both of them on their favorite country station?

Not to be outdone, with her benefit telethon performance last night, Taylor Swift added a critically-acclaimed possible third new song for radio to be playing today "Breathless," originally recorded by Better Than Ezra (and of course every song on the Haiti fund raiser is also available on iTunes too).

Add that to her new album's title cut, which is being promoted to radio and also her song from a new movie which she's doing on TV trailers and appearances, and just debuted at #1 on iTunes only last week.


When does "music discovery defense" end and total confusion begin?

With radio playing 20 to 30 currents these days (except for the first hour of the four hour countdown shows), certainly we can't expose half of them by just three or four superstars (or can we? You'd probably lose your reporting status if you did try that, a fate - some seem to feel - that is the same thing as becoming completely invisible).

Programming has always been about figuring out what listeners care most about right now and prioritizing/reflecting those values in the most entertaining ways. There's too much going on every day to expose and talk about, let alone play, everything.

Great radio makes life simpler for listeners by filtering what they want and need to know about.

Winning radio makes the right choices.

Seemingly, never more so than right now.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What’s Hot…Not: Taylor Swift + Home Cooked Meals

Combine budget-friendliness with a desire to stay indoors to avoid the frigid temperatures, and you’ll have a recipe for homecooked meals, which tops the list of what’s hot for January.

Those under 35 also favored Taylor Swift, Modern Family, and New Year’s resolutions, while the 35+ crowd is looking forward to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Reusable shopping bags and thrift stores followed among earth- and budget-conscious consumers.

What’s Not?

While his departure from American Idol is garnering a lot of buzz, this was probably a good career choice, as 85.5% of consumers feel that Simon Cowell has passed his primetime.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mary Beth Garber Stands Up For Radio

December, Media Life ran an article headlined "Outlook for radio in 2010: More struggle" That got the SCBA Exec Director’s dander up. (click to read her fact-based rebuttal)

"Contrary to media industry myth, radio listening has been positively affected by new technology."

Today every computer, virtually every MP3 and iPod, and any cell phone capable of downloading apps is streaming radio’s over-the-air content.

Which helps explain why approximately nine out of 10 people of all age groups listen to radio each week, far more than any other medium except broadcast television (RADAR 103, December 2009).

And why the average person spends between about two and a half to three hours or more each day with broadcast radio (Nielsen, RADAR, Arbitron, Scarborough and The Media Audit).
In fact, people spend more time with broadcast radio than they spend with any other form of audio (Council for Research Excellence’s "Video Consumer Mapping – How U.S. Adults Use Radio and Other Forms of Audio," October 29, 2009).

Virtually all of that radio listening is done live, in real time. It's the only mass medium that can make that claim.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Country Radio Mobilizes Haiti Aid

Compassion International has been in Haiti for over 40 years serving hundreds of thousands of children and families. When the military is retracted and most of the other charity groups are gone, Compassion will remain in country.

On February 1st Compassion is mobilizing a one-day national radio event to help country radio listeners bring hope to a devastated country, desperate for both immediate and long-term solutions.

I am currently asking any radio group or syndicated show to partner with us. I understand some stations are already involved with specific charities through NAB or their own local affiliation, but there are so many who aren’t directly connected to anyone and would like to plug in to a legitimate and trusted organization. Especially to a charity group with 30+ years and significant ties within the music industry and who can help make it country format specific. - Mike Severson

If radio stations would like to do something on February 1st, or even before like KKGO/Los Angeles is currently planning, we just need to have collaboration to expediently put it in place. Individual stations can then run it through our online tool kit.

If you are willing to help in this effort or have any questions, contact former Midas Records, Rounder and All Access Exec Severson.

How Long Should We Give 'Em?

Country Aircheck's chart doesn't list the number of weeks songs have been on their airplay ranker, but Billboard does, and I suspect that number may be very instructive.

Luke Bryan's "Do I" took 37 weeks to peak at #5 right after the New Year and remained in the top ten, trending from #5 to #7 last week, it's 38th chart week.

Country Aircheck no longer counts it as a current and instead makes it their second-ranking "Top Recurrent."

How many weeks does it take for a song to get to the point that it's no longer "current?"

Aside from Bryan, there are only three additional songs that have been charting for close to 30 weeks, Gary Allan/Today (alive for 29 weeks last week), Sarah Buxton/Outside My Window and Jason Michael Carroll/Hurry Home (28).

The oldest current ranking between #31 and 40 has been on the chart for 21 weeks (Lee Brice/Love Like Crazy) still had a bullet last week and between #41 and #50, 23 weeks (Mallory Hope/Love Lives On) had no bullet.

Is it that when your NAME is "Hope" you don't need a bullet to keep a few stations spinning your music for coming up on six months?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Before You "Assume The Position..."

First, it was just "Country," "Continuous Country" followed, as did "Today's Country Favorites."

Then, NBC-TV had a mid-season replacement show back in the 90’s called "Hot Country" and "Today's Hot New Country" and "Today's Country" was born. Followed by "Young Country" as more competitors entered the fray.

"New Country" still proliferates. But also, as a means of differentiating current-intensive country stations from more mainstream approaches, we positioned some of them as "Hit Country." Along the way, we have also recommended - in various competitive situations - "Real Country," "Pure Country," "Hotter Country," "Better Country." Fresh Country. Today’s Country. 12/15/20/30-in-a-row country.

Maybe it's time we call a halt to all this ludicrous name-calling and remember one thing: all of our listeners seem to call it country. Some older ones even still term it country-western. Many say they came to country because they were turned off by rock and rap/rhythmic CHR. But, to most folks, it's all simply country music.

Given that reality, why would you call your country station "rock?" I don't think you would IF you knew about that reality. Most of the other words probably don’t “hurt,” but it’s important to keep in mind that position statements were innovative three decades ago. The book whose cover is shown above was first published in 1981.

Do today’s listeners believe any of them?

Which gives me cause to say: before you name your radio station anything, I'd recommend you ask your listeners what they call the stuff they like most. Listen to the terms they use and simply call it one of those things. It will make your marketing efforts much easier.

There is no doubt you can coin a phrase and give it meaning by doing tons of TV and direct marketing. For example, since I was in on the development of the first “Young Country” station, KDDK in Little Rock, thank you Hank Williams Jr., I feel that "Young Country" worked in many places because it isn't so much a style of music as it is an attitude, a playful approach, given meaning in the minds of passionate fans by excellent marketing. Another of the original "Young Country" stations is WYCD/Detroit, which now positions at Detroit's Country.

You can market to older people by being young, but you certainly can't sell many young folks by being old.

But, I just don't think you market to them by being "Rockin'" or "Wild."

Yes, over the years there have even been some “Wild Country” stations, which goes counter to everything I believe about country listener values.

Country listeners enjoy fun, compelling, content-driven relationship interactive radio. The kind of people who are drawn to country music are foreground listeners, family oriented, patriotic, care about the environment but definitely do NOT seem themselves as rebellious.

Over the last three decades, I have been a part of naming country stations WOW-FM, Bob, Kat Country, Froggy, the Rebel, the Mountain, KOLT, and many other mnemonic devices. So, I am always looking for clever, fresh ideas for names and positioning niches.

But, just because it's new doesn't make it good. I ask you: why would folks who fit the country psychographic profile be tempted to listen to you? Why would you want to do a country approach that wouldn't appeal to the heaviest users of the format?

Something tells me that in time "Rockin' Country" and "Wild Country" will join other non-descriptive phrases that have been piled on the radio positioning junk heap over the years: Classics of yesterday and today, Full service radio and Easy rock.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A&O's Annual Pre-CRS Client Seminar

What a DAY to have chosen to send out the first press releases about Albright & O'Malley's February 23 (1 to 5 pm, just prior to the DJ Hall Of Fame banquet) annual client meetings!

Also in reporters' email boxes yesterday: news of the demise of ARB's Michael Skarzynski, 18 markets fail to get PPM MRC accreditation, Sarah Palin's announcement that she's contributing to Fox News. Whew!

When you send out news of a meeting that has been going on for as long as the A&O Pre-CRS Client Seminar, you pray for a slow news day as your only hope for ending up on page one of a trade magazine or two in spite of having "the best agenda ever."

Heck, "what could possibly happen?," I asked myself yesterday as I hit "send" on my release to the trade media.

Dixie Chicks are back in the studio? They chose yesterday to make the announcement?

So, it's just possible that you may have missed the first press on our client seminar. In the event you'd like to read a little "slow news," click here (pdf).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Is radio a "dying medium for music?"

This email hit my in box today:


Hi Jaye,

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/

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Best regards,

Phyllis Stark
Executive Editor, Country Music Country



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!

The Undeniable Reba

She sent her fans an email Saturday giving them credit for her record-breaking three weeks in a row at #1 on the spin charts (and, today, it looks like she could possibly even get a 4th, given the fact that most countdown shows start by playing last week's #1 song again, helping her maintain a 200 total weekly spin advantage over the other contenders for the top spot on Monday morning's national "advances" on next week's rankers).

Jason Aldean has the fastest-growing top five song, judged by increased spins in the last seven days, but it still appears that Dierks Bentley and Tim McGraw will be #2 and #3, giving #4 (as of this morning) Aldean next week's charts to be their battleground for #1.

As always, there are many moving parts like that to the timing of any success, but it's still very classy to share the achievement with her local and longtime street team members publicly instead of her very aggressive promotion people, (who no doubt will also get rewarded for their achievements, but more privately).

We could all learn a lot about humility, customer service, personal reinvention to stay relevant, relationships, branding, quality and relatability of product as well as very well-executed competitive marketing - driven by a desire to do what it takes to stay on top - from this very savvy superstar.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Being On A Mission From Radio

Much has been written about creating mission statements for teams.

Here are a few tests to use as you plan for 2010 and rethink your organization's purposes and goals.

It is stated in a way that (click the links for examples):

* Expresses a higher purpose or ultimate meaning of the organization
* Gives direction to daily work
* Encompasses all tasks and members
* Is clear enough to be understood by all members
* Is brief enough to be remembered by all members
* Is not necessarily measurable

A&O is always delighted to work with your staff to help define what listeners expect from you, your strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities and what commitments you're prepared to make to exemplify and personify your core values.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dave Van Dyke: Pandora TSL Drop Is Due To Boredom

The newer the Pandora consumer the higher the satisfaction level. Over time, though, the satisfaction level is affected by "fatigue or boredom." Make no mistake that even those Pandora users who have been using the service for more than three years, retain high levels of satisfaction, but responses for the service being "Just OK", "Somewhat Dissatisfied" and "Very Dissatisfied" increase the longer the user experiences the service.

The Bridge Ratings President blogs that this is "The Decade of Radio Cannibalism."

Terrestial radio has it problems, but - fortunately for us in 2010 - a "bored" audience isn't one of them (at least not yet).

Lets resolve to improve our content and entertainment value to keep today's loyal listeners engaged.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Blogs I Can't Top And Won't Even Try

Today, I want to send you to a pair of great blogs which make important points, worthy of your attention:

Greater Media Chairman & CEO Peter Smyth: In radio, every first quarter is a battle to prime the revenue pump, but this one stands out as the most critical Q1 in years.

Tom Kelly and Paul Kelly: In Kelly Music Research’s national telephone survey, only 4% of music station P1’s exhibit Extreme Fan behavior. 96% of those polled can be described as Normal Fans.

As in all forms of research: it is important to carefully-design the questions but also to fully understand to whom you are asking them!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Weird Theory: Cledus T. Judd And Scott Lindy Are The Same Person

Think about it. Have you ever seen the two of them in the same place (i.e., when one left Atlanta last year, the other one arrived)

2010 Ad Trends (A Radio Adaptation)

Verizon Wireless' current commercial, in which the carrier touts its 3G cellular coverage as better than rival AT&T's

Suzanne Vranica’s Wall Street Journal short list:
  1. Rough-and-tumble sales pitches taking direct aim at competitors
  2. Other companies will show their softer sides. In the bleak aftermath of the recession, many marketers think consumers will respond to brands they perceive as giving back to the community
  3. Fewer actors and more animated characters (cheaper to produce)
  4. Social-network personalities make their way to mass-media stardom
  5. TV viewers see more split screens that give them a glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes of a show while a commercial runs on the other side of the split (hoping to avoid TIVO ad skipping)
  6. Mobile advertising (maybe for real this year?)
  7. Fewer big-name celebrities and athletes pitching for brands, thanks to Tiger Woods
  8. Consumers volunteer their personal information in return for getting the ads they want to see
Radio, fortunately, has faced "ad skipping" for decades, so we "should" be the experts at maintaining audiences through our commercials, which are in the spotlight on center stage, giving listeners only three choices: listen through them, change stations or turn the radio off.

Better, more creative commercials build higher listening levels, get measurably better results and make it possible to charge higher rates.

There is a radio resolution for 2010!