Pandora founder and evangelist Tim Westergren: “There is little doubt now that the future of radio is Internet radio, and personalized radio.”
I appreciated Tom Taylor's perspective, as he quoted the former musician, composer and Pandora visionary's claim of 3.6% of all U.S. radio listening, followed by "a radio executive in the hallway who isn’t discounting Pandora, but knows that broadcast radio, done right, offers a sense of community. So it may come down to broadcast versus customized radio – which must grow its share of ad dollars to break out of its business model where the royalties consume more than 50% of total revenue."
Music discovery is no doubt important to any transitional format, but as any experienced radio vet will testify, trying to use "new music first" as a tactic to create a musical difference almost always loses to the direct competition who lets the newbie familiarize the audience with the unfamiliar material and then plays the biggest hits.
It seems to me that, as with so many other upstarts that have emerged since the dawn of format radio, we don't have to fail for Pandora to succeed.
Newness and similar sounding genres are a dual-edged sword.
Today in the NAB convention hallways I ran into Edison Research's Larry Rosin a longtime student of country radio and music who currently has a concern about country even as new music and artists are clearly booming. His wife listens to country in her car almost constantly thanks to SiriusXM, but he can't listen as much over the last several years since New York has no country FM station anymore: "I hear all this new music, and she obviously loves the songs, but I can't tell one singer from another."
Radio doesn't need a genome project. We have one already. The music biz does it every time. The instant something starts to work, every label seems to have a soundalike.
For the majority of the population, it takes a curator to separate wheat from chaff.
Radio wins by doing what satellite and personalized streams can't do, making sure our local community of listeners gets plenty of the era and genre variety they prefer along with surprises presented by a trusted friend who relates compelling stories about artists we expose, to be sure that the fresh becomes familiar and favorite, reflecting local, topical values and concerns.
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