Saturday, February 05, 2011

First, It Takes A Big Idea

I've linked to David Farrell's FYIMusic a few times in the past because he and his contributors always try to be "big picture" thinkers.

Blogger Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, The Segarini Band, and Cats and Dogs, and nominated for a Canadian Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on Toronto's CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now provides content for with RadioZombie, The Iceage, and PsychShack.

From that lofty perch, Segarini's prescriptions, like the Egyptian protesters' demands, can sometimes seem a bit too big, the distance a tad too far from where we are, that someone more invested successfully in the way things are right now - like, with commercial radio and me - tends to consider his "demands" as too revolutionary and perhaps so "big" as to be frightening.

"How can we feed our need to hear the music we know is out there without the taste makers and risk takers who no longer tread the halls of radio and record companies, or labels who have the patience it takes to build a career instead of manufacturing celebrities and ‘hit’, radio friendly singles. We, those of us who love music, are potentially the largest A&R department that has ever existed. How do we disseminate our information? How do we take our favourite new music and artists from obscurity to prominence? How do we help turn local promise into a chance for international success? Well, we need radio’s help."

His vision for completely remaking the music business model would have to happen before his scenario for remaking the interactive radio model - while leaving analog radio as it is - that it's unlikely to occur until labels and copyright owners hurt a lot more than they are even now.

"With these options in place a database would be created of all the music available on the internet and who owns it. Unless YOU owned the original content you wished to upload to the internet, you would not be able to upload content for others to take. You would be blocked by your ISP because you didn’t create or own the original property, easily determined by the database that would come from the labels uploading their content. Without the ability to upload music you didn’t create or own the copyright to, there couldn’t be any more illegal downloads."

However, if it does eventually come to pass that all music and rights exist in the cloud, it would be great to hope that radio could leverage that, creating unique products on our music portals to attract "Long Tail" music consumers to our brands with all matter of variety we can't afford to offer in mass broadcast form.

"As far as radio goes, not much can be done unless they re-embrace music and relax their formats and listen to the people that no longer listen to them instead of the people who do. Until the corporations start selling off some of their ill performing properties and independents again acquire a foothold on the airwaves, or they are forced by decree from the FCC and the CRTC to take one station in their cluster in each market and use it to train new talent, present new music, and focus on the local community, radio’s best bet is to utilize the internet like they have never used it before."

Is there any radio executive who doesn't acknowledge that more than 25% of our listeners would use us more if we had fewer/almost no commercials? .. that half or more of our consumers would use us more if we didn't have so much predictable repetition? Would they be willing to subscribe to services which solved those problems?

But, is there a consensus of music copyright owners and artists with enough courage to embrace Segarini's idea to open distribution as their long term future, so that we can find out if I am right about his vision for the next generation on online "radio?"

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