Sunday, March 23, 2014

So, Seriously. Is Going To Do Anything About it?

Probably not.

Only the very courageous among us will want to take the risk of doing things differently in exchange for a potential payoff.  Old habits die hard.  BUT:  here's the payoff.

If we cut repetition complaints in half satisfaction could go even a few percentage points higher, driving better perceived TSL (diary measurement) and actual usage (PPM).
  • The trade charts won’t do it.  The chart editors have been concerned about overnight and other “daypart” spins for many years and have certainly talked about ways to remove them from their charts, but there hasn’t been a subscription-supported trade magazine since the deaths of Bill and Janet Gavin.  Ads paid for by the very folks who also pay for the promotional tactics support them.
  • Could they create two different charts, one for the higher level of spins that PPM appears to require and the other for diary markets where it's still possible to sustain 14 hours a week average TSL?  I wonder if PPM stations mixed in one monitored chart with diary markets hurts diary market stations that are drawn to increase their spins to dangerous levels given their longer TSL.  Most likely, even the stations wouldn't support this idea.  No one wants to be in the "smaller markets" group.
  • Labels and publishers won’t do it. They all support the idea in principle, since it would save them promo expenditures which really don’t do very much to drive sales or familiarity, but they all fear that they’d be the only one to stop and would get beaten by competitors that continue.  This will be true as long as AM/FM radio spins are the #1 driver of music sales and, thank goodness for today’s radio, there appears to be no foreseeable end to that.
  • Consolidated radio owners won’t do it.  Their debt drives everything they do and suggesting that giving up a few thousand dollars of their top line in order to fund marketing being paid for now for them by labels and indie promoters could get an exec fired.
  • Your competition won’t do it.  They also fear that you’ll get the money they’d leave on the table if they did.
  • Going back to “reporting” from a larger panel in place of monitored spins won’t do it.  Before monitored airplay, folks reported songs they didn’t actually play.
YOU will do it only when you’re convinced that carefully testing every recurrent spin to be sure it’s adding value for listeners.

YOU will do it only when you come up with better win/win ways to give value to your partners in the music business than burying songs you really know in your heart will never see the light of day on your playlist.  Commit to the songs and artists you believe in and give them meaningful spins when the majority of your audience is listening so that they you can build familiarity and solid test scores in fewer weeks.

YOU will do it when you see ratings growth by doing what listeners love and that is what I am confident will happen.

YOU will do it precisely because all of the others won't, and that's going to gain "someone" a power advantage.

After all, of the 8,874 folks who participated in A&O&B’s Roadmap 2014 listener survey the majority are very satisfied with the country radio they hear right now.  And, that number is trending up.  Of that total 1,336 say they are dissatisfied as a result of too much repetition.  15% of the total sample.

My proposition:  when your satisfaction levels and cume audience are at all time highs (more than double the level of any other negatives!) there is only one direction to go - down - unless you respond to the folks who aren’t happy in ways that don’t hurt you with current fans.

I think stations which take cutting "core dissatisfied" folks' repetition perception levels in half could see a 5-7% increase in usage.

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