Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sex, Drugs And... Country Music?

Toby Keith performed with scantily clad backup dancers last month at the Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. While rap and hip-hop have been publicly criticized for sexist and violent lyrics, country music has not. But to people offended by his songs, some of which glorify marijuana use and objectify women, Keith says, “Get a sense of humor.”

“One thing about those kinds of country songs is they’re all done mostly tongue-in-cheek. They’re supposed to be funny. I think a lot of rap is kidding around, too. I just think that people who don’t listen to a certain genre tend not to get its humor.” -- Author and music writer David Cantwell

Tim's review of the show will be posted shortly after midnight on the Star's music blog.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Commercial Loads Are UP From A Year Ago

Media Monitors CEO Philippe Generali tells Inside Radio that commercial inventory cutting seems to have come to an end. The "race to go down has stabilized" with the average commercial minutes per hour holding steady.

Generali says the number of :30 second spots is also holding steady - now accounting for 39% of radio spots. The radio industry averages 13.4 minutes per hour of commercials, compared to 13.3 minutes one year ago.

Since both Inside Radio and RCS' Media Monitors are Clear Channel companies (and, thus unlikely to report bad news about CCU initiatives), I'd say it's time to officially conclude that less has turned out NOT to be MORE..

Thursday, June 28, 2007

June Is The Month For Engagement (Radio With Listeners, Emotionally!)

Thanks for RAEL for some wonderful weekend reading:

Engagement, Emotions, and the Power of Radio: A New Study of How Radio Affects Consumer Emotions

The Radio Ad Lab is conducting a new series of research projects under the umbrella theme, “Radio and the Consumer's Mind: How Radio Works.”

The goal is to continue learning both how Radio advertising affects consumers differently and how it works synergistically with other forms of media.

This newest paper, "Engagement, Emotions, and the Power of Radio," conducted by Gallup & Robinson, was designed to assess how well Radio ads can generate emotional responses and engage with consumers, compared to television ads.

And it did so using advanced physiological methods that measure emotional responses in ways that don't require verbal responses.

The conclusion: the emotional impact of Radio ads is equal to TV.

Download the Full Study

Download the Executive Summary

The State of the Consumer

The latest BIGresearch study, and light-hearted analysis on the State of the US Consumer in June 2007, says that when it comes to today's consumer, it's difficult to figure out which way is up. It gets even more perplexing when the voices of consumer experts, Wall Street analysts and media talking heads chime in.

Many consumers are feeling confused and wonder why they feel bad when the experts say they should feel good. Away from the land of econometrics and modeling lies a different world - Main Street USA, where over 70% of the economic activity takes place by its inhabitants who are known as consumers...real consumers who live their daily lives without benefit of historical econometric models or knowing what the price of a barrel of oil is.

On Main Street USA, consumers worry about today's price for a gallon of gas, how high it will be tomorrow or what impact it will have on their budgets. They are concerned about their grocery bills, which keep going up, and they want to find the retailer that has the best quality at the lowest prices for Junior's new school outfit. BIGresearch's June Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey (CIA) explores the complex and ever-changing world, known as the consumer.

Reported is the collective wisdom of over 7,500 consumers from BIGresearch's June CIA Survey, responding to their own situations, which BIGresearch believes they know best. Not included is the voice of the experts in these findings, notes the report.

  • Women are least confident in the economy over the next 6 months followed by consumers with incomes below $50,000. Men are most confident.
  • Shopping trips are being impacted by higher gas prices as 41.9% of consumers say they are taking fewer trips and 40.1% are shopping closer to home.
  • Overall 72.9% of the people think gas prices will be higher by July 4th. 77.8% of consumers who have a student loan think gas prices will increase over this time frame and the average price will be $3.39 a gallon.
  • 39.9% of the respondents believe the stock market accurately reflects the strength of the economy and 60.9% said it doesn't.
  • 32.3% of all women respondents plan on decreasing spending over the next 3 months and 32.9% of consumers with incomes over $50,000 said same.
  • Future purchase intentions for durables such as computers, furniture, appliances, home improvements, TV's, digital cameras, and housing all are up from the previous month (May) indicating consumers may have some pent up spending to do in the 3rd and 4th quarter of the year.

For a detailed table of responses from BIGresearch, please click on this URL link.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The First Virtual Country Record Label

.. and wouldn't you know it would be the always innovative Larry Pareigis who would be the moving force?

Country Aircheck reports the former Columbia/Nashville Sr. VP/Promotion has launched Nine North Records, a "virtual record label" that will bring artists to Country radio through independent partnerships. Promotion vets Ryan Barnstead (615-414-4665), Tony Benken (615-478-9056) and Greg Stevens (214-488-3590) have joined the company as Directors/Promotion in the NE/MW, SE/SW and SW/WC, respectively. Initial clients include John Berry (Clear Sky Records), Ty Herndon (Pyramid Records), Brent Keith (CMT Networks/Combustion Music) and The Roys (Pedestal Records). Additionally, Pareigis serves as a consultant for Tracy Lawrence and Rocky Comfort Records. The label's mailing address is P.O. Box 58270, Nashville, 37205. Phone is 615-332-5511.

Michael O'Malley asked him to describe the new venture, as we both wished him and his new team well.

Larry Pareigis:

"Thanks for that kind offer Michael – and thanks for the words of encouragement.

"The way my crew and I are defining ‘virtual label’ is that together, we’re a group of music and entertainment industry professionals who can provide the same services that a fully staffed label can provide at a fraction of the cost – because we work with individual artists and projects of real quality and because we’re not functioning out of a giant building with a huge infrastructure to support - nor do we have to pay overhead charges to parent companies in NYC or LA.

"Between cell phones, E-mail, conference calls and actual real-time meetings, we can function together very much as a label would.

"If you came in as Michael O’Malley, potential star, you could work with me alone as a consultant on your project (like Tracy Lawrence is doing), work with my team and I (like John Berry, Ty Herndon, Brent Keith or The Roys), or if you need even more support from professionals in sales, marketing, digital, artist development, imaging, etc., I have a professional representing each of those areas too. Some of the aforementioned acts are taking advantage of much of the expertise ALL the teammates have to offer, and it’s a very exciting process to be a part of.

"The major areas of growth for a company such as this are down 2 avenues:

"One is the act that has had success selling 200K to 500K per project, which is not enough to stay on a major because the artist and the label make no money - large spend and too much overhead. Under the Nine North scenario, costs are held to a much more reasonable (but still effective) standard, and those units become a profit center instead of just an expensive advertisement for a tour or merch, which the label generally sees nothing of anyway.

"Two is the very exciting new talent in country who doesn’t want to wait 2.5 to 3 years to finally appear as a part of the majors’ active roster – it’s like landing planes stacked up at LaGuardia. Not only is it a gamble that the act will even see the light of day, but the people who originally championed that artist might be long gone in that timeframe as major change continues to rock the industry. We can provide a faster on-ramp with comparable quality and duration of much-needed setup, time and commitment.

"Above all, we will remain small and fleet-footed to take advantage of the ever-morphing landscape at both radio and records.

"I hope that explanation helps regarding our reason for being, and I look forward to bringing quality music and artists to you and your clients over the next years under the Nine North banner."

It sure does, and with classy folks like the crew the new "label" has pulled together, you know that they will make it work, but when this new model proves to be effective you have to wonder if eventually all major label music promotion is going to come out of a phone room somewhere in Bangalore..?

Monday, June 25, 2007

We Are Not Alone

You really need to take a close look at this device.

It puts our situation in context. Hit one button and your alarm clock wakes you up to your favorite songs, on your iPod. Hit the other button and wake up to your favorite radio station.

For now, at least, radio is still in the device.

Let's leverage our strengths - what's going on right now which affects the target listener LOCALLY - while we still have something between three to seven years before a next generation of clock radios comes along with wireless internet built into them as well.

I recently heard talent coach Tommy Kramer tell an A&O client morning show to
"start with the listener, and then work back to the Control Room. Most jocks do the opposite, and then just can't understand why their ratings aren't what they want them to be..."

Radio's new rules of engagement (Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins calls it our own personal 'climate change':
"write clearer, tighter and more visual copy to leverage the strength of audio.."

When people mention the name of your city do they call it "your town" like they do in Los Angeles about Rick Dees or in Detroit about Dick Purtan?

Or, are those kind of jocks a dying breed?

It's up to us.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Opinion: Are The Majors Killing The Goose That Has Been Laying It's Golden Eggs...???

As Tuesday's Net Silence Iniative nears, I hope the music business is paying attention to these folks:

Dick Shuey: The Major Record companies continue to go after Radio for more money as their Sales dip and their artists bail out and go independent in order to gain control of their own professional lives.The Record Companies have yet to realize with their sewer of greed that they aren't killing Radio....they are killing themselves. Radio will just change formats and not play their music...then what will the Record Companies do...???

Mark Ramsey and Seth Godin: (click to listen to mp3) "How Screwed is the Music Business?"

A major group Director of Programming put it this way on Friday in an email to his stations: "I feel like we need to take a stand on this issue. It’s better to go dark one day and hope we make a point as opposed to shutting it off completely because we can’t afford to stream anymore. If the July 15th decision isn’t reversed, there is real potential that a good chunk of our promotions budgets could go to paying reassessed fees for the past two years at the same time we shut down the stream."

I wish we didn't have to punish the 1-2% of our total audience which is now using us online by taking away the service they are just beginning to depend on in hopes of getting their attention, but these folks make very convincing arguments. I'd say, "it's not a matter of life and death," except that it indeed may be.

Sophie's "Choice" Launch Marketing Tactics

I assume you saw:

"Within the space of 24 hours, CBS Radio detonated two of its Free FM outlets: After stunting for two hours as oldies "K-Surf," KSCF/San Diego is now what looks like a hot AC/Triple A mix as "Sophie @ 103.7." And, as Street Talk Daily rumored, KZON/Phoenix ended 24 hours of stunting at 5 p.m. Friday to go rhythmic as "101.5 JamZ, Blazin' The Valley's Hitz & Hip Hop."" - R&R

Be sure to check out their new website, which has some very cool interactive ideas to borrow/steal, like this one:

"Sophie Everyday Rewards: Sophie rewards listeners with concert tickets every week for displaying our logo and link on your Facebook or MySpace page."
(Please note that I just did both a cool blog entry .. while also entering their contest too..)

Live Earth: Tim & Faith Off The Bill, Keith Urban ADDED To It

Keith Urban has been added to the Live Earth New York concert at New York's Giants Stadium on July 7. He joins Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Melissa Etheridge, Alicia Keys, the Dave Matthews Band, the Police, Kanye West and many others.

"Global warming is something that will ultimately affect all of us on this planet and if there is one thing that music can do, it is to bring people together despite their politics or differences."

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were on the initial list of performers when the concert was first scheduled for Washington, D.C. However, the event was later moved to the New York area, and McGraw and Hill were unable to participate because of their own concert scheduled for the same date in the nation's capital.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Greater Media Stations Will Be Silent Tuesday, Will YOU?

.. and, Jerry DelColliano makes a convincing case for all of radio to do it too. I wonder, however, if depriving the 1-2% of our total audience that ARB says listens to us from streaming audio service for a day will really prove anything to the people who are responsible for these fees.

Go silent, if you want, I'd say. But, whether you do it on not (and I would not), please, please, please REALLY ramp up the announcements on your stream about what will be lost of these ourageous fees are not reversed.

"We already pay and we'll provide this service as long as possible, but we can't do it if the costs are exorbitant," would be my message during every break on Tuesday, but also today, tomorrow and always.

We need to be lobbying hard in Washington, not depriving our audience of the service they value, in my opinion. That's punishing the listener, who won't understand why we're not there when they need us.

LeAnn Rimes, Jo Dee Messina, Blue County, Bomshel, Hal Ketchum On "Evan" Soundtrack

The only halfway decent review I could find was from Catholic OnLine, so it's too bad this flick probably will be on its way to video very soon (typical reviews: 'Evan Almighty' misses the ark, 'Evan Almighty' isn't heaven-sent, etc).

Rimes sings the closing credits song, "Are You Ready For A Miracle." They say that the producers were so thrilled with LeAnn's inspirational version of the song they plan to make a video to coincide with the release of the soundtrack, also due out this summer on LeAnn's home label, Curb Records.

The video will probably be playing on CMT and GAC a lot longer than Evan will be playing in theatres..

(Photo caption from JA: male camel to female camel: "honey, didn't I tell you about my Vasectomy ?"

TDGA CEO Editorial: "The UN-Fair Elections Act"

Candidates are currently charged the lowest unit rate for TV and Radio spots, but the bill would give them an extra 20% discount in the political windows prior to Election Day (Primaries and General). (All the headlines deal with Television, and while that may be the key target of the measure, Radio will be dragged along as an easy add-on although politicians definitely are zeroing on TV as the presumed "pot at the end of the politician's rainbow.")

The 10 Most-Loved Spokescreatures

1. The M&M's Characters (1954)
2. (tie) Aflac Duck (2000)
2. (tie) Geico Gecko (1999)
4. Tony the Tiger (1952)
5. Poppin' Fresh/Pillsbury Doughboy (1965)
6. Energizer Bunny (1989)
7. (tie) Geico Cavemen (2004)
7. (tie) Trix Rabbit (1960)
9. Chester the Cheetah (1986)
10. Snap!, Crackle! and Pop!/Rice Krispies (1932)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Want A Quick Course In Using Your Loyal Listeners To Sell Your Brand?

Read today's USA TODAY: 10 things to make homemade ads work

1: Do your homework.
Some brands have a head start in consumer interest; others will have to plan and work harder. Before Heinz launched its contest, it did an online "litmus test," Ciesinski says. "The first thing we did is Google and YouTube searches … to see if there were people out there using ketchup in home videos. The answer was a resounding yes." Among them: a teen doing magic tricks with ketchup. "We saw that our consumers were already engaging with our brand without us even asking them to. That gave us a fair amount of confidence."
2: Get a good lawyer.
Amateur ads pose legal risks, such as copyright and trademark infringement claims, false advertising charges, defamation claims and privacy issues, says Brian Heidelberger, a partner at law firm Winston & Strawn. "There are lots of ways that you can protect yourself," he says, including proper disclaimers, rules agreements and privacy policies.
3: Offer carrots.
Getting a large pool of videos takes incentives.
Unilever appealed to filmmaker ego for its Dove Cream Oil contest this year by promising to air the winner on the Oscars. "You can't ask consumers to play unless you have something of value to offer them," says Babs Rangaiah, Unilever's director of media and entertainment.
It doesn't have to be so grand, however. The National Sunflower Association's contest at attracted 55 sunflower seed-touting videos with T-shirts and a top prize of $10,000.
4: Let your audience play, too.
Getting the videos is great, but the real payoff is in getting a crowd to view them and tell others.
"The scarcity is people's attention and their willingness to pass it on," says Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing at Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which tracks consumer-generated content on the Web. Among ways to involve viewers and increase buzz: Let them rate the videos and pick winners; let them post comments; include a "send to a friend" button for easy sharing; and add "post this video" capability for bloggers to add it to their sites.
5: Be easy to find.
A key way is to buy contest-related terms from search companies so the link will appear every time the term is typed in a query. Heinz bought about 400 key words, Ciesinski says. Thus, Google searches for "Heinz," "ketchup contest" or just plain "ketchup" are among those that bring up a sponsored link to the contest site. It also helps to tout the promotion on sites where videophiles hang out. The sunflower group posted video about the contest that linked to its home page on sites such as YouTube and Google Video.
6: Woo would-be Scorseses.
Be sure folks with video or ad skills get the word. Converse and Doritos pitched their contests at film schools. "You seed it with people who are more interested and experienced with the medium," says Stern, who worked with Converse. "Then it will travel beyond that."
7: Keep it simple.
The technology must be fun, not frustrating. Unilever made that a priority for its site. "We went out of our way to make sure the tools were as simple as possible," says media director Rangaiah. "A bad consumer experience is the last thing you want for the brand." Nike had only one rule when it asked consumers last summer for video of soccer players passing the ball: The ball must enter from the left of the frame and exit to the right.
Passion for soccer — and video — brought an avalanche that Nike spliced into a 2½-hour video posted online called Chain. Says Stefan Olander, Nike global director of digital media: "To get 40,000 submissions, we've tapped into something."
8: Make it a conversation.
A blog, dedicated e-mail or call center lets consumers get timely answers to questions about the DIY ad promotion. "Once you open yourself up for comment and contribution, you have to maintain that (communication) after the fact. You have to have a willingness to listen," says BuzzMetrics' Kalehoff. "You have to respond to e-mails — and an auto-reply doesn't count."
9: Lay down the law.
Most people will abide by guidelines for the ads, if they are clear. A MasterCard promotion that had consumers fill in the blanks for their own "Priceless" commercials was an easy target for off-color content. Yet, "Of the 100,000 submissions, less than 200 were deemed inappropriate," Cheryl Guerin, promotions vice president, said at a recent consumer-generated ad conference from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
10: Then let go.
Once the trigger is pulled, marketers have to take what they get. In the best case, along with a bevy of brand-building ads will be some that pan the product — and some that are just weird.
"Consumers having a voice is here to stay," says Frito-Lay marketing vice president Ann Mukherjee. "Marketers need to be genuine in terms of truly letting them be a participant, listening to them and letting them have the control or voice they wish to have." Even if they make you wonder. Doritos got a bevy of bizarre entries, including one involving a bare-chested guy dunked in a bathtub of chips and chowing down.

With business news stories like this, who needs consultants? If you have a little in your budget after you spend 75 cents for the paper today, we're here to help too.

What's ARB Doing To The Philadelphia PPM Panel?

It looks like they are adding African-Americans. And, that doesn't appear to be good for country. Cume increases and TSL drops continue, and ubiquity - as B-100, KYW and WMMR's consistency and growth show (click for the Radio Ink report).

The fate of more niche-driven and geo-demographic lifestyle formats is less certain at this point. A year ago, I loved watching (and believed it was reality since I think country faces a real challnge in diary placement as ethnic and younger demo formats get increased premiums and special treatment) country WXTU's cume growth increase its shares and keep them there month after month.

Now, as the pressure from ethnic broadcasters to add more of their listeners to the panel increases it appears that country shares are dropping (Urban WDAS is now #4 in 6+ cume (from 802,100 last month to 868,900 now) and has been going up in rank in each of the last three months and country WXTU has been falling in rank, while continuing to hold a much larger cume than before). WXTU cume dropped this month to 857,900 from the previous month's 866,300, which is still higher than it ever was in diaries.

Hopefully, the weighting factors that appeared to give country a fairer shake aren't being rejiggered, to our detriment.

TSL in the average diary last year was 20 hours a week. Last month's average TSL for the People Meter samples was twelve and a half hours, a slight uptick from the previous month's twelve and a quarter hours a week.

That makes Persons Using Radio appear to drop, about 28%, which means that cost per point increases by about the same amount. Our sellers are going to face some real challenges as this wave rolls over more markets.

One thing for sure: it isn't going to make much sense if radio has to pay more for PPM measurement which only ends up giving buyers a bigger, more state-of-the-art stick to beat us up with. We need to learn a whole new way to position our medium, now.

Arbitron needs to do a lot more public relations, research studies, education sessions, training to help, since they are the only company, thus far, that - as I see it - stands to gain financially as radio adopts the PPM.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"The 41st Annual CMA Awards" To Be Broadcast Live November 7 On The ABC Television Network

The Country Music Association and ABC Television Network have announced that “The 41st Annual CMA Awards” will air live Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-11:00 PM/EST) on ABC from Nashville, Tenn.

“The CMA Awards is ‘Country Music’s Biggest Night’ and is one of the most highly anticipated events for our industry each year,” said CMA Chief Operating Officer Tammy Genovese. “It’s a night to applaud our best and brightest performers, songwriters, record producers and music video directors. And we are ready to make this the most outstanding Awards broadcast to date.”

The CMA Awards moved from September to November Sweeps in 2003 and the placement right before the important holiday retail sales season has been good for the Country Music industry. 2003 also marked the last time the Awards were held on Wednesday. In 2007, the CMA Awards moves back to Wednesday night.

“Some of our highest-rated programs have been on Wednesday and our partners at ABC support the move based on the strength of the CMA Awards and the configuration of the fall lineup,” Genovese said. “We all feel that the position at the start of Sweeps on a night that has been successful for us in the past is the right move for the Awards, the industry, and ABC.”

The 2006 CMA Awards, held in Nashville during November Sweeps (Nov. 6), ranked behind only the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and GRAMMY Awards during the 2006-2007 season for awards shows among total viewers. With “The 40th Annual CMA Awards,” ABC won Monday evening in both total viewers (16.0 million) and adults 18-49 (5.4/13).

TNS Confirms: It's Brutal Out There

If your revenues are flat, you're doing a lot better than the majority of us.

TNS Media Intelligence 2007 Forecast – 2: Internet display advertising is projected to lead the market with 16.0 percent growth in 2007. Outdoor spending is expected to rise by 4.6 percent versus 2006 with Consumer and Sunday Magazines right behind at 4.5 percent. The TV market is expected to turn in mixed results. Cable Network TV is forecasted to advance by 5.9 percent. Network TV expenditures are expected to increase by just 1.3 percent and Spot TV spending is expected to decline by 5.5 percent. The outlook for newspaper ad spending, which accounts for over 17 percent of total ad volume, is a drop of 2.9 percent. Small declines are also projected for Radio (-0.3 percent) and Business-to-Business Magazines (-1.5 percent).

Translation: the only ad growth appears to be in the low price spreads. If you don't have an aggresive web development initiative, it's time to start. That's where the money is going.

Bon Jovi Chronicles Personal Turmoils, Hopes For Country Airplay

If that glowing review caught your attention, here's a little more background on the project:
Fresh off their crossover success with a country remake of "Who Says You Can't Go Home" with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, which earned them the sole Grammy of their 25-year career, Bon Jovi is releasing the country-influenced album "Lost Highway" on Tuesday. And nobody in the band seems sure what the reception will be — from their fans to the country music industry. "Who knows? This record might be over in three weeks. Or it might have 10 singles on it," Jon Bon Jovi said during a recent interview. "I just found myself listening to this kind of music, and finding that they were telling stories. That's something we've been doing our
whole career," he said. "So it was very much a fit for us."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Internet Radio Listening Is Still Tiny, As Analog Radio Still Reaches 232-Million

Arbitron's just released "Infinite Dial" study says online listen to internet radio is dominated by young males and online audiences are still fractionally small, less than 1% of the total AM/FM audience. 55% are men, with 36% of those 18-34.

1855 participants nationwide selected from Arbitron's Fall 2006 survey were also questioned about satellite and HD radio, as well as usage of audio podcasting.

Awareness of HD radio nearly doubled what it was a year ago, but that awareness hasn't translated into much increased interest from consumers, with just 6% calling themselves "very interested" in the new audio medium.

Download the full report here.

Other hot stuff from the ARB news center: Radio Reaches 232 Million Listeners per Week, according to RADAR 93

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What Do Tim McGraw And Larry The Cable Guy Have In Common?

The two Nashville-based celebrities have made Forbes magazine's annual "Celebrity 100 Power List," which ranks stars based on earnings and media buzz.

Interestingly, in 2006, seventeen musicians, singers and industry moguls populated the chart, but in 2007, only fourteen have risen to the top of the celebrity index of money, power and influence, making Tim's achievement even more impressive.
Tim's pay is $37 million, his rank 37th on the list. Oprah Winfrey tops the celebrity list with earnings of a whopping $260 million, Larry the Cable Guy, $20 million, former President Bill Clinton $7 million, Donald Trump $31 million, Brad & Angelina $55 million (Combined), Bon Jovi, $67 million, and child star, Dakota Fanning, $4 million.

Neil Haislop Reviews Keith Urban's Staples Center Show

A&O pal, "The Nashville Answer Man," emailed his client list this morning with the headline "KEITH URBAN ROCKS STAPLES CENTER IN L.A."

Keith Urban's Love, pain and the whole crazy thing tour ranks as one of the must-see, huge shows of the summer of '07.

The presentation is simple but, powerful, ultra hi-tech, with staging and visuals that takes Keith as close up and personal with as much of the audience as possible.

How does he do that?

First, think of a 40 to 60-inch HD TV screen and how cool that, imagine an HD wall 56 ft. wide with HD clarity (best we’ve seen even when close up), and you can imagine how intimate any close-up shot of Keith, band members or the audience is when appearing on the screen providing a front seat experience for any of the 13 to 15 thousand fans that packed Staples Saturday night.

That includes those in Staples' sky-high, nose-bleed sections.

ALSO, THERE'S THE STAGE: The stage is 56 ft. wide, too, with a ramp leading some 125 feet into the center of the arena with a small, round stage at the end of the ramp. Keith works the ramp several times, including one point where the whole band walks to the small round stage at the end, where mics, stools and drum set have appeared from beneath floor in a tight in-the-round setup where Keith and the boys do an intimate jam session.

MUSIC...the last time we'd seen Keith on stage was when he made his surprise appearance at that quickly-arranged surprise show during CRS, shortly after leaving re-hab. It ranks as one of his best, most intensely emotional performances.

Saturday night ranks as one of his most un-tethered and joyful we've ever seen. As Keith and the band tore the a two-hour+ set and encore (including everything on the new album, and favorites like "Memories of Us"), he and his band and his guitar solos were so hot you half expected the L.A.F.D. to shut the place down.

VIDEO HUGE ELEMENT: Like many shows, It's all covered by multiple video cameras on platforms, and on foot. Creative iPod ad-style, sillouette video of Keith and band members separately appears in the background. And, the staging is covered a football stadium style Sky-cam that flies over the action by cable giving a very cool perspective.

Truly: great band and harmonies.
-- Neil Haislop (323 857-0760)

Does YOUR State Host Seven Major Multi-day, Camping-based Country Music Festivals?

"I would pick either of those shows over a big concert in the middle of a city like Los Angeles," country singer Blake Shelton says of his summer festival dates in Richland Center and Eau Claire. "I just don't fit in those big metro areas. Those aren't my people."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Billboard Reviews (And Likes) The New Brad Paisley And Bon Jovi Albums

Dick Shuey links to country music news: Brad Paisley and longtime producer Frank Rogers have it down: Mix a big dose of Paisley's quirky humor with his wicked guitar playing, throw in a few introspective ballads, and you've got a smash album. That's not to say Paisley's albums are formulaic. Rather, he knows the right buttons to push with his audience.

Inspired by the crossover success of "Who Says You Can't Go Home," a No. 1 hit on country radio, Bon Jovi gives its open-hearted stadium rock a Nashville makeover

Friday, June 15, 2007

Harry Potter's Almost As Hot As Alternative Energy And The I-Phone

* 73.6% say wind & solar energy are what’s hot this month.
* More than half of consumers are eagerly awaiting the releases of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the Apple iPhone
* Women contend that yellow is the clothing color of the summer, while men welcome the short skirt trend [go figure].

What’s not?

Hawaiian shirts…82.0% feel that this fashion statement should stay on the islands.

Kenny Chesney Is One Of People's Hottest Bachelors Of 2007

Chesney is on the cover of PEOPLE's annual "Hottest Bachelors of the Year" issue. He's inset along with Jake Gyllenhaal and Justin Timberlake over an image of Matthew McConaughey.

At the same time, on his official website, Kenny offers this description of why "Never Wanted Nothing More," rose high on the charts so fast, debuting at #17:
"Where else do you hit all the first notes of growing up, but in country music? First car, first girl, the big wedding and getting saved. It's all there-and it feels just as fresh and free as summer."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is It Really Us VS Them Now?


THEY have (in alphabetical order) Lynn Anderson, Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Jimmy Buffett, Deana Carter, Terri Clark, Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Pat Green, George Jones, Toby Keith, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Hank Williams, Jr., and Gretchen Wilson..

And, WE have John Legend? (gulp)

Lessons In Storytelling From CMT + A Fresno Mother And Daughter

Holly Hicks is a little bit country. Erica Hicks is a little rock 'n' roll. The differences between the Fresno residents is played out in the CMT series "Born Country" tomorrow night.

The mother, Holly, and daughter, Erica, were selected because of the letter Holly wrote to the show. There was just one little thing about the letter: Holly wrote it pretending to be Erica. The letter revealed that Erica always has thought her mother should give up the dream of being a country music singer.

"I would have never written the letter," says Erica, a local hairstylist. "When the people with the show called me and read me the letter, I told them everything she said was true. Dreams are great. But reality is bigger."

"My mom has always been an amazing woman. I just thought she needed to do bigger and better things."

CMT has found that powerful quotes, driven by relatable and entertaining narratives, increase 'time spent viewing.' You know that's true for radio too.

Is your show delivering powerful stories like this? How often? Are you making the most of them to build listening appointments?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

CNBC Spotlights The CMA

Normally, the Country Music Association is happy to draw attention to the music and the artists and not to the organization, but this reporter was so impressed with the CMAFest last weekend that he gives props to Music City's powerful trade organization, which are richly deserved, I'd echo.
"Ask any of the myriad of sponsors, from GM, to JM Smuckers, to Mary Kay, why they're in Nashville for the festival, all they need to do is point to the convention center at 8 am. There is a line around the block. At 10 am they open the doors, and once inside, sometime over the four days nearly every big star and small will be at the convention center at least for a few hours singing autographs. And the loyalty goes both ways. There are other festivals around the country that are older, bigger, with higher attendance figures. But there is none other as focused on 'taking care of business' like the CMA festival in

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Are Radio's Research Tools Antiquated?

Sony/BMG Chairman Joe Galante worries that radio programmers' research tools are antiquated:

"Some things are researching tremendously but aren't scanning," Galante said. "You're losing an audience. People like vanilla, but they aren't passionate about it. The biggest problem with radio today is an over-reliance on research."

In a CMAFest week article in the Nashville Tennessean, writer Peter Cooper quoted Galante complaining "...because programmers test listeners' reaction to snippets of each single to see what songs might cause audience members to change the station (the ultimate horror of horrors for radio), and it turns out that many songs that "test well" are dunces at retail."

It's not hard to see why the label exec would recommend to radio that we shouldn't bother playing anything that doesn't "sell," and yet hopefully the faulty logic behind that from RADIO's perspective is not necessary to refute. After all, is there really any 'problem' with country radio at this time when the format just had its best first quarter audience shares in eight years?

So, it's very tempting to immediately dismiss Galante's point because it seems that 'the problem' he sees is that we're not playing all of the releases from his imprints that he wants us to. Yet, there is indeed no doubt that radio's time-tested ratings methodology which determines how much of what we have to vend can be sold at prices we want dates way back to an approach (diary measurement) going back almost 60 years (to December 17, 1947, when James Seiler, who at the time was Research Director of WRC Radio-TV in Washington invented the idea of sending viewing and later listening diaries to TV and, ultimately, radio users).

Now, we are in the process of moving radio research from perception and attitude to actual behavior, and no doubt the arrival of the PPM is going to change the way programmers make music decisions as radically as the arrival of Soundscan changed the music business.

Finally, we knew what the 'real' sales hits were. Many highly-promoted chart hits from the pre-Soundscan and monitored airplay days, we acknowledge, could probably not be hits today.

However, with radio, what we are learning from the latest research from Houston and Philadelphia on how listeners behave when new music comes on the radio, it must be noted that the findings of People Meter-based music usage data, our old tools - callout surveys, emerging online testing and of course auditorium music tests - do pretty darn well in their abilities to predict actual listener behavior.

This isn't going to make Joe Galante any happier, I fear, as radio moves to the latest cutting edge research approaches. I'll bet there will still be songs like "Holes In The Floor Of Heaven" and "That's What I Love About Sunday," to name just two huge research smashes which continue to test in many places, on the radio. Turntable hits, we used to call them, probably will never become antiquated -- as long as we ask radio listeners what they want to hear more, the songs they love, on their favorite radio station.

Sorry, Joe, but doing that is something else that isn't going out of date anytime soon.

See You In Nashville NEXT June!

The Summer Concert Tours Are Underway

MORE than 'very nice' reviews so far.. for Keith Urban, Tim & Faith, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and, coming soon, Rascal Flatts (tour starts 7/13) and Toby Keith (whose new album is now on the racks).

ARB's PPM Houston Hiccup

Arbitron delayed the issue of the data for the week of May 17 to 23, officially only saying
"...while conducting quality control reviews, we observed some unusual listening patterns warranting further review. A rescheduling of the release date will allow the time necessary for additional quality control measures to help ensure we can have complete confidence in the audience estimates we release.”

ARB told the media press that there would be no further info released to the public on this incident, ever.

Is there any other solution to things like this than a larger PPM sample?

At the very least, one wonders if releasing trends as often as every single week and full "books" thirteen times a year is really worth the risk?

The PPM panel is what it is, an influential, but extremely small group of people in a city of millions who have busy lives to live. Sometimes those unplanned, crazy lives are going to affect the mathmetical trends radio lives and dies by.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Non-Ending? Fair Or Foul?

TV Critic Brian Tallerico:
"The water cooler will be a little bit duller on Monday mornings now that Tony Soprano and his family have gone into TV history." There's a fine line between being clever and giving the big middle finger to your fans. For many, the non-ending of their favorite show will be seen as a colossal brush-off, a complete disregard of the commitment they have given to HBO and the most influential television series of all-time. Imagine if you read a thousand-page novel, which is what many critics have compared The Sopranos to, and it ended with as many unfulfilled plot threads as the final episode of The Sopranos. You'd find the author and beat him with his own book. And yet, intellectually, you have to admire what David Chase pulled off in the final episode of The Sopranos. The show has always been full of non-endings, so how could we expect anything different? You may not like the non-ending, but the whole episode (and arguably the series) was about how we go on with chaos all around us. We live with the chance of a terrorist attack, a car accident, a fall of the wagon, a death of a family member, or even a mob hit at any moment."

There were many bits (back in the days when I was on the air) when I was tempted to simply turn off the carrier at the transmitter instead of finding a clever way out of it, but I never had the courage to do it.

It sure won't be very hard to start a sequel to The Sopranos now, if they ever want to do one.

Staying Creative To Keep PPM Panelists (Radio TOO)

Inside Radio's Frank Saxe spins this yarn:

"...there are all sorts of researched ways to keep a Portable People Meter panelist happy. But sometimes it just takes a human touch. Arbitron shares a story of a PPM household two adults and five children. Of the kids there were four PPM-wearing girls and the youngest — a four year old boy. Because he’s under six he’s not eligible to be part of the PPM panel. But that was disturbing the peace in the household and it threatened to interfere with the family’s overall compliance. So the Arbitron rep came up with the idea to send the little boy a fake meter to make him feel “official.” It worked and the family is still part of the PPM panel."

If that kid had simply called, texted or emailed his favorite radio station, I bet they would be been delighted to send him lots of items to wear too... Send that kid a portable radio!

Michael Harrison, The Master Of The Tease, Delivers On His Promise

“The survival of AM and FM radio depends on having the best programming available anywhere. That means having the best programming by a
mile. Companies should be investing a lot of money in their product, something they’re doing the opposite of, now. There can be no cost-cutting, there can beno compromise, they have to have the best people, or they will be beaten.”

As if to try to reinforce the importance of Harrison's advice, Tom Taylor On Radio-Info has this quote today from former WFNY and WABC, New York, programmer John Mainelli – who also reveals that he’s had a “very productive meeting with four agents from William Morris, who are extremely excited about the prospect of Internet-only talk. Talk is so the future of FM, and music is so not the future of FM.”

MY two cents: Mainelli's cred as a believable soothsayer has been badly tarnished as a result of the demise of FreeFM, but he no doubt has a fascinating vantage point from which to pontificate. A talk radio conference is hardly the place to discern the future of music on the radio, no matter how dynamically the dire predictions are delivered by these brilliant talkers.

t's worth remembering that, since May 24, music is back on WXRK, much to the delight of X-Rock's former, very large, audience.

The Revenge Of The Under-30's

Inc. Magazine's 2006 idea was brought to radio by Edison Research which will make the formal presentations in a few weeks at The Conclave in Minneapolis.

However, you don't need to wait that long to see some young, budding radio pros in action: Project 100 Radio.

"Two young jocks set forth on a 100 day morning show tour to find out what makes a great morning show."

Guided by the advice of McVay Media's (30 under 30 nominee) Daniel Anstandig, the road trip is underway. Follow Mitch Baldwin and Will Harvey as they explore 100 morning shows in 100 days!

If they happen into your studio, please be kind. You'll be welcoming our future.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Letting Our Listeners Know We Appreciate Them

The weather's nice, and that makes it a great time for a big show!
.. at KFDI, Wichita, .. at WKCQ, Saginaw, ... at WXTU, Philadelphia, ... at KYGO, Denver, ... at WYCT, Pensacola, right now, for example.

Build Your Trustmark With Content Generated By Your Listeners

Media Post's headline on this story was "Advertising Trust Varies by Medium and Viewer Age," but MY headline would be "Radio Is 20% More Trustyworthy Than (The Current Flavor Of The Month) User-Generated Content."

Listeners interacting by phone, email and texting with well-edited fun content = high impact, user-generated radio!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Badonkadonk Is A $100,000-Winning Radio Commercial

Stuck for ideas? That's the whole reason for this competition.

Click here to check out the best radio advertising of 2007.

Someone At Sony-BMG Finally Comes To Their Senses

.. was her name "Katherine Woods"? Or, "Roseannadanna?"

Does Radio Need To Seek "Authorization" To Play Album Cuts?

An email to radio programmers from Sony BMG/Nashville Sr. VP/Legal & Business Affairs Katherine Woods has demanded that stations stop playing the Tracy Lawrence song "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" featuring guest vocals by BNA's Kenny Chesney. The original single release was sung entirely by Lawrence, but his album For The Love features a version with guest vocals by Chesney and Curb's Tim McGraw.

Woods' letter reads in part: "SBMG did not grant 'singles' rights to Rocky Comfort Records with respect to the album version of this song and has not authorized any radio station to play this recording. If your station is playing the album version...SBMG demands that you immediately cease such unauthorized broadcasting."

Both R.J. Curtis at Radio and Records and Lon Helton at Country Aircheck had the story last evening with pretty much an identical reaction from radio.

CO5 VP/Promotion David Newmark commented, "This is nothing more than an issue between a major label and radio, and that issue is whether radio can play an album cut or not. We feel that they can."

Joel Burke, PD at Lincoln Financial KYGO/Denver: "I'm not a legal expert, but I don't think anybody can tell us what album cut we can or cannot play. It's available out there for public consumption, and if I choose to play cut nine off an album that I think is going to work for our radio station, I'm going to play it."

Nate Deaton of Empire Broadcasting KRTY/San Jose echoed that sentiment and said the station will continue to play the album version.

At first, we had hoped that it wasn't real and was just the over-zealous work of an inexperienced promo rep, but our sources at Sony-BMG confirm that it is indeed the product of the mega-label's legal department, amazingly. No one I spoke to at the label group was willing to be quoted on the record yesterday.

The Wikipedia definition of C&D, which given this situation, a mega-label group with three songs vying for #1 next week trying to intimidate radio into decreasing spins on an indie label's first album, is more than just a little ironic. The concept that radio somehow must seek a label's authorization to play an album cut which has been on the air now for 40 weeks is simply unbelievable to A&O.

To make it clear where Jaye Albright & Michael O'Malley stand on this development, we would go with the opinions of your listeners and the Tracy Lawrence album bonus cut continues to grow in our client national research as shown in today's AccuTest, where it ranks #2 by total points, by like a lot rank and also by combined favorite + total positive scores for the second week in a row. It's battling for #1 in our research next week with Brad Paisley and Montgomery Gentry. Fortunately, all of them are valid Power Currents and so there is no need for you to choose between them. Of course, this is a local call. And, in order to avoid negative repercussions from Sony-BMG, we'd recommend talking to all of your promotional reps to see what their intentions are on a one to one basis and to let them know what you plan to do. You'll also, of course, want to communicate to your company's legal counsel to be sure that you are following their guidance.

It seems to A&O that allowing anyone to believe that they can intimidate even a few monitored stations or chart reporters into adding, slowing down or dropping any song would be a very dangerous precedent to set. A&O showed the Woods letter to an attorney, who saw no immediate legal grounds for this request and thus no need for any station to stop playing this song. Further, he suggested that stations who wished to do so, could write to SBMG and 1) request SBMG laywers provide them with a legal memorandum supporting their (SBMG's) position, 2) request that an official Cease and Desist Order to be delivered to the station, and 3) acknowledge that should a Cease and Desist order be granted and delivered, the station will indeed immediately stop playing this song and all songs featuring Kenny Chesney in perpetuity.

Our lawyer obviously plays hardball, just like the Sony-BMG legal department appears to do! We would hope that it never comes to anything like this and calmer heads prevail soon.

Of course no station needs to do anything - from reducing spins to sending a letter. However, if you're so inclined, you can express your feelings about a tactic like this by INCREASING by one spin the Tracy Lawrence and Friends version of this song - should, of course, your research indicate that is appropriate. Or, if you want to comply with Sony-BMG's request and still not hurt Tracy Lawrence, you could always just play the single version of "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" adding an extra spin or two in the next week to THAT...

Whatever you decide to do, in A&O's opinion, under no circumstances should you drop or even cut back on Tracy Lawrence's "Find Out Who Your Friends Are." If Sony-BMG is successful in hurting it even a bit by this tactic so that a Sony-BMG song goes to #1 next week, that will be a black day in country chart history. Who would want to have a #1 song with such a dark cloud potentially hanging over it?

Neil Haislop: Tim, B&R, Jo Dee Updates

Fans have been wondering if Tim McGraw will be performing his new song "If You're Reading This" live and the answer is yes. "The song has gotten an amazing response from the fans in Omaha," said manager Scott Siman. "It has clearly touched a chord with Americans and his already one of the best moments live."

In Celebration of the release of their new album Between Raising Hell And Amazing Grace, Big and Rich will be making an appearance at the Borders Booth at the Nashville Convention Center from 11am-12pm for a CD and Book signing. Fans should bring both. Then join them later at FYE On West End from 2pm-4pm for a short performance and signing.

Jo Dee Messina is set to do her thing for the politicians at the 2007 President's Dinner, taking place Wednesday, June 13th at the Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C.. Jo Dee will sing the National Anthem and follow it with a 45 minute music set before she later meets the President himself. "It is an unbelievable honor and privilege to be asked to attend, not to mention, perform at such a distinguished event," said Jo Dee. "I am looking forward to performing and being involved in what promises to be an unforgettable night and, of course, to meeting the President."

Dancing with the Stars pro-contestant Julianne Hough is meeting Nashville this week. She recently won Dancing With The Stars with Olympics star Apolo Ohno. Although she is a professional dancer, she is also launching a country singing career. Her new single "Will You Dance With Me" has already sold over 10,000 copies via iTunes, and country radio is getting the single this week. Julianne will be in town this weekend.

-- Neil Haislop

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Country Radio Get$ A Compliment From Will Feltus at National Media

Nine questions for a political ad spender — "The Inside Radio Q&A" is a new feature and the first edition finds out there could be big bucks coming to radio from politicians this year. National Media is one of the biggest political ad buying firms and buyer Feltus says this year they’re working for Mitt Romney and have already made radio buys in four states.

Q: You put 10% of the Bush campaign budget in 2004 to radio — an unheard of number back then. What’s attracted you to radio?

A: TV has become more like radio and their audience is really fragmented — so that you can’t go out and buy threeTV networks and get the job done anymore.

Q: You’re buying for Republicans – so does that mean news/talk and country stations?

A: News/talk is the biggest format, definitely. But you can’t rely on that alone. We also buy sports stations. And, since news/talk’s audience is largely male – we also buy the AC type of formats to reach women. Country is much more of a mixed bag. It’s appeal to Republicans is exaggerated. It reaches both men and women — but in some markets its numbers are so high that it reaches everyone not just the voters we’re targeting. (this quote is highlighted in green for good reason!)

The NAB and RAB are holding a marketing session today in Washington trying to get radio a bigger piece of campaign media budgets. NAB chief David Rehr tells IR's Frank Saxe their goal is to show “the value proposition” of radio –— and make sure candidates “appreciate the unique connection that radio stations have with hometown listeners and voters.”

"I Lived The Life Paris Hilton Will Be Living For 23 Days"

Hats off to Ottawa's Hot 89.9's "Josie And The City" for this Paris Hilton-related stunt. She says:
"The prison life is NOT for me, I don’t know how Paris is going to make it!"

.. not that anything else important is capturing the minds of Ottawans: (Tight-checking losses have Ottawa on the brink of a Stanley Cup defeat)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Some More Bad (Or, Is It Good?) News

Earlier today (see below) I reported that radio ranks last among local media in generating revenues online. Now, comes news that radio held 6.6% of ALL media spending in the first quarter compared to 6.7% last year.

Being flat from last year's share of media revenues is actually good news?

Some are saying so, but wasn't the promise of consolidation during its infancy a decade ago to grow radio's share of media revenues?

That was before the late 90's crash and 9/11, of course. If the economy's so good, how come we ain't rich?

What Do Local Media Web Sites Earn? More Than Last Year!

According to Borrell Research's new study, the action on the local media battlefield is focusing on the web. Borrell says traditional players like radio, TV and newspaper are looking to the web to provide relief from the revenue pressures put on them by the same media.

Nearly 25% of the web sites in the study were on track to generate more than $1 million in gross revenues this year; 6.6% of them will generate more than $10 million. The study also found that the number of locally based online-only sales people grew 26% in 2006. Budgeted figures for 2007 anticipate an additional 35% increase in hiring this year.

Borrell sees this year's U.S. local online advertising at $7.5 billion, growing at a clip of 31.6% over 2006. Newspapers continue to hold the dominant share, controlling 35.9% of all locally spent online advertising, but pure-play Internet companies (Google, Yahoo, Monster, etc.) are hot on their heels, with 33.2%. Yellow pages operators control 11.7%; Other Print (e.g., homes & land and other local magazines) 9.2%; TV stations 7.7% and and radio stations come up the rear with only 2.2%.

Monday, June 04, 2007

What A Nice Way To Celebrate A Station Anniversay

Maybe it's because MY birthday is July 6th and theirs is July 5th.. and perhaps I am biased because of my own personal loyalties to Country 105, Calgary, with memories going back to work I did starting in the early 90's for the station. (I was brought in as a consultant in 1993 when we were all fearful that Rawlco, who had done the most amazing country launch I had ever seen with their "Mugged and Kissed" Toronto event and of course Rawlco also owned CMT/Canada back then too, so it was a big relief when they actually came on - complete with a huge fireworks display at dawn as an AC-country-rock hybrid. I feel confident that CKRY could have withstood even a head-on attack, but it was quite a compliment to find out that Rawlco felt the same way. I can't wait to hear what other memories of those days others much more directly involved have!)

The Odd Squad morning show and then-MD Phil Kallsen are still all there (Phil is now PD and owner Corus Director Of Country Programming, of course), so I really want to hear what wonderful memories they all have, since I was just a witness but they lived it... but in typical CKRY fashion, they seem to be more interested in their loyal listeners' recollections..

Online Sources for CMA Music Festival Week

The 2007 CMA Music Festival is set to be BIGGER than any of its predecessors.

Get the full scoop online: