Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Little (Somewhat Biased) History

I am sure that it's always a bit painful for record executives to read how their business looks from a radio geek like me who has only seen their industry from the outside looking in, and the same goes for radio when viewed by a music professional.

It's easy to say "he just doesn't understand."

However, it's hard to disagree with a lot of what Bob Segarini has been blogging about the last three weeks in his columns "When Radio and Records Ruled" in Canada's "FYI."
Tragically, the great arbiters of taste, the men and women of radio and records who listened for us and chose the music we were exposed to, are no longer in place to help us separate the wheat from the chaff, the good, from the bad, and the ugly. These long respected and trusted ears are no longer there, and current dictates from on high to assure a consistent and familiar sound relies more on focus groups, computer analysis, and format restrictions. Even the voices of the fans no longer reach the ears of the people in charge, and the ears that did listen to the listeners have been sadly (and wrongly) dismissed.

The legacy and import of radio and records will always be remembered fondly by those of us that grew up with them, but I am doubtful if it will ever rise to those heights again. Even so, there may be surprises ahead.

Only time will tell.

I like to hope that some courageous ones still exist in the country format on both sides of the promotion/programming job divide and I would even start to name names and radio stations if I wasn't fearful that I'd forget to mention someone.

's time for a rebound, isn't it?

Some stations are doing particularly well right now in the latest trends. I think those are the ones worth studying, while listening with an open mind to what is exciting the folks we want to spend more time on their FM and AM radios. That is, and always has been, a powerful catapult

Bob's entire series is online, grit your teeth, know that whether you're in records or radio, it's gonna hurt a bit, you won't agree with everything, but you'll have to admit that there's a lot of truthful perspective in Seg's views.

The Rock Files: When Radio and Records Ruled the World Part 17: What happened, and The Epilogue. Part 16 and links to 1-15 can be found here.

PS: The IcemanSegarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movieson 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. Along with the love of his life, Jade (Pie) Dunlop, (who hosts and writes “I’ve Heard That Song Beforeon RTDS), continues to write, make music, and record.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

PS: By-The-Way...

Have you ever wondered how many people in your market are represented by one single diary keeper or meter?

To find the "PPDV" (person per diary value), divide the in-tab sample from any geographic, age, or sex in to the total population of that cell. Do the same with "PPMV," but be prepared to have your hair stand on end.

The result is the number of people each diary represents within that cell.

You'll see WHY one diary keeper is so important to your station and one metered family who happens to listen more than two or three times per day to you is even MORE so.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ratings: UP/DOWN. Do You Know WHY?

Because there are numerous factors that cause ratings to rise and fall, too many to list in this post, it's often difficult to put a finger on exactly what causes fluctuations in your ratings.

Without the aide of analytical tools discovering why your numbers fluctuated can be frustrating.

This is not meant to be a substitute for those efforts, but rather a quick check list of numbers that sometimes get ignored when looking at the "bigger" picture.

Look for these numbers to help uncover the question of "Why?".

Audience Composition/Sample Composition: For most markets ratings break down the demos into multiple demographics: Teens, 12+, and 18+, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, and 55-64 for both men and women.

Here, you'll find what percentage of your audience falls within each cell.

How Does This Help You?

You certainly have an idea of whom you where targeting during the book. These numbers show how accurate you where in reaching that demo. If your primary target was Women 25-34 and your audience is comprised of only 5% from that demo, you immediately know you have a problem. Now, look at the sample composition to see if the problem was your station's or was due to a poorly distributed sample either demographically or geographically (or both).

You can also see what station did a better job in that demo. Was it reach or TSL? Compare both the Audience Composition in Cume and AQH to help you draw a conclusion.

Daypart Trends: By looking at the Cume Rating/Persons and the AQH Share/Persons trends, you can quickly see where you were most affected.

Be sure to keep a record of what, if any, changes occurred in any daypart during a book that could have affected your outcome (i.e. If you had a new afternoon show this book and AQH went down).

Look at how well each daypart converted the available Cume to AQH. Your marketing may be bringing them in, but is your PM Drive show keeping them?

You may also narrow down the reason for a trend to a show element by looking at the Hour-By-Hour shares. Maybe your "All Request Lunch Hour" is (or isn't) the reason for your mid-day spike. Is your morning show losing or gaining audience from 6:00am - 8:00am? You'll find these answers here. PPM data really shines here, due to its granularity and also demonstrates convincingly that much of what people write down is not what they really do.

Metro Cume Duplication Percent: With which stations do you share the most/least of your audience? Is their audience reciprocating?

This is a great way to monitor your marketing tactics. What can you do to get the attention of your competitor's listeners?

Population Estimates and In-Tab Diaries by County: Make sure you've concentrated your efforts on the hot spots. This is especially important now, since samples will still be based on changes in population estimates that started by in 2000. It will be 18 months before actual 2010 changes start to impact the estimates.

If doing a diary review, be sure to look at your return rate from these counties and compare it to your competitor's.

Look at the zip codes and do the same comparison. Be sure you know where those active radio listeners live. Even better, study the zip codes which contribute more than average time spent listening to you.

Cume Recycling: find out what percentage of your total cume persons listen to any particular daypart. Simply divide the 12+ cume for each daypart by the total metro cume.

How well are you recycling your listeners through other dayparts? Do this for your competitors' stations as well and find the dayparts you can improve upon. You can also break this down by specific demo, as well as AQH persons.

Listening Locations: This is another indicator that is sometimes given little attention. It shows what percentage of your audience listens "At Home", "In car", and "Other". You'll get a feel for your listeners' morning, in-office, and drive time listening habits.

While looking at the big picture and searching for the generic answer in your latest book, don't take for granted these often overlooked calculations.

They can help point out some of the finer, more intricate reasons WHY your station performed the way it did.

Correct the problems you uncover, and next book you and you'll be asking, "why did we do so well this book?" Even better, you'll KNOW.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Let's Change The Name Of The Format From "Country" To "Steam Punk"

Watch this video (click) and see if you don't agree with Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush that their vision of "Steam Punk" sounds a lot like what you're trying to do on the radio each day.
Nettles told Billboard that "The Incredible Machine" --both the album and their forthcoming tour -- take inspiration from the "steampunk movement," , a branch of science fiction that imagines a world where humans evolved intellectually, but technology remained set in Victorian times. "I describe it emotionally as bungee jumping and eating chocolate cake," she says. "It's terrifying and gratifying, all at the same time."

Sugarland is set to launch its U.S. tour, beginning on April 23 at Primm, Nevada's Star of the Desert Arena. A few festival dates such as Stage Coach (April 24,) Country Thunder (July 23) in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin and Country Jam (July 24) in Eau Claire, Wisconsin are peppered throughout the itinerary, with headlining shows at arenas and amphitheaters filling out the schedule.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A New (Third!) Dimension For Kenny Chesney

The New York Times' movie reviewer claims that perhaps too much touring caused "little spontaneity," but Entertainment Weekly and People are more a bit more supportive in their previews and reviews of Kenny's 3-D replay of last summer's stadium coast (Boston) to coast (Seattle) tour.

I was in the sandbox last July at Qwest field and expected the flick to be less of a thrill than the live Miranda Lambert, Sugarland, Brooks & Dunn + Chesney show was in person, but the sense of how it feels close up to perform in front of 60,000+ loyal fans won me over to the point that I was singing along and almost applauded after several of the performances.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Anybody's emails that end with a quote like this gets 100% of my attention:
"Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid." Frank Zappa

Jay Bedford, PD/MD at 1035 The Eagle, Sydney is that guy and he reports:

I've checked with announcers in other markets and they are also doing it. What's "it"?

When searching for tidbits of info on an artist, when backselling a song or pre promoting an
upcoming selection, many jocks (presenters to use the British term) are going to wikipedia.

You spend a small fortune on web site creation, then we go to wikipedia? Don't get upset. We
go to both. But don't forget wikipedia, it's free and compliments the web site info and the
emails and the faxes and the phone calls!

Just a hint and/or a reminder!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kenny Chesney's Timing Is Perfect For A 3-D Flick

April's Hot List: 3D Movies are out of sight, as they top the list (according to 59.9%). Earth Day, Online Educational Classes, and Modern Family are also hits with consumers.

The Masters Golf Tournament is on par with men, while women are stocking their closets with Boyfriend Jeans and Kitten Heels.

What’s Not?

“Tik Tok,” Ke$sha…consumers think you may be singing on borrowed time and they also worry about the economy, big time:

Or, to put it succinctly:

Monday, April 19, 2010

For Example

A reader emailed me this morning, asking what I meant when I said:
"You’d experiment with new sounds which excite you so as to gain an edge over other radio stations your target might also spend time with."

... in yesterday's post. Here's an example, on the air right now at many A&O client stations, in spite of the concerns pro/con whether new artists like Tyler Dickerson's opportunity closed with Disney's announcement closing his Nashville label last week.

I think he has an impressive debut LP and on it is a very clever track that could not be more topical right now, "Save A Few Billion For Us," so we created a special "economy mix" of the song (click to listen, right click and "save as" to download it) to build some fun and buzz.

If you like it, feel free to download and spin it. Gettin' viral is what it's all about!

I'd love to know if you use it, how it goes and would love to hear what original musical fun-makers you invent for your listeners as well.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What About Rascal Flatts? The CRS Boat Show? What About RADIO?

(picture: ironically, yesterday was "Record Store Day")

Uncertainty reigns in the wake of last’s week’s Disney announcement that Lyric Street Records is closing and then just one day later Joe Galante’s announcement that he will depart Sony Music/Nashville after being with the company that started as RCA Records since 1982.

Where does that leave Rascal Flatts, Bucky Covington, Love & Theft, the traditional Thursday night CRS General Jackson extravaganza, let alone numerous still-budding artists that Joe has remained loyal to in spite of relatively low sales figures?

Someone at Disney in Hollywood and EMI Publishing/Nashville EVP/GM Gary Overton gets to make those calls now as one label shuts its doors and Overton jumps across the street with a changing of the guard at another:
"When Joe told me of his decision to leave Sony, I thought about all his great accomplishments in nurturing the careers of some of the icons of our business: Dolly Parton, Alabama, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and many, many others. I am honored and humbled to be tapped by Rolf Schmidt-Holtz to build on the legacy that is Sony Music Nashville. And I am very excited about having the opportunity to work with the great artists at Sony, as well as the very talented staff."

Lyric Street regional promo rep Dale Turner also announced that he’s retiring at the end of 2010 with the closure of his employer's Music City offices:
"It is true that many of my co-workers have lost their jobs and it's a sad week for sure. Many of you have dealt with the harsh reality of consolidation and this is no less difficult to embrace. However, the release should have stated "Disney decides on a major restructure of their Country Music Record Label"...what remains @ 1100 Demonbreun Street in Nashville is a fully staffed promotion team lead by Kevin Herring. The difference is that he reports directly to Disney Music Group Chairman, Bob Cavallo, instead of a local label President the way, I've worked with and for Randy Goodman 25 years combined between Lyric Street and RCA and cannot say enough about his business acumen. Rascal Flatts is still negotiating with Disney to extend their recording contract and we currently have a single crossing into the top 10...24 of their 26 single releases have scored top 10 or better in the past 10 up is their new album which they are finishing up and debut single it will be an exciting summer working their new music @ country radio. I just felt compelled to set the record straight...all of our resources that allow us to go to radio to promote and market the music are now based in Burbank but that doesn't change the commitment, investment and dedication of our artists and their music at country radio, that I can stake my reputation on."

Is it the beginning of the end of business as we know it?

Isn’t it always?

Meanwhile, the RIAA’s lobbying efforts continued last week at full force to enhance their new business model by taking a percentage of radio's revenue.

So. What would you do if all the record labels closed one by one and you had to count on relationships with music’s artistic community and music fans if you wanted to continue to use music as a part of the service you use to draw and hold an audience - even if it cost twice as much to do so?
  • You’d find out which songs and artists your listeners were discovering through all possible sources.
  • You’d experiment with new sounds which excite you so as to gain an edge over other radio stations your target might also spend time with.
  • You’d listen to every song on albums and in concerts by artists which drive your music image and expose only the ones which drive usage, passion and exclusivity.
  • You’d use every available tool to leverage your ownership and identification as the one who stands out in the crowd championing the very best of your genre.
  • When a promoter called you to tell you about their clients’ priorities, you’d listen and then you’d share yours - and even more importantly - your users’ - with them so that you could hopefully work together to monetize both sides of those transactions.
Welcome to tomorrow!

What are we waiting for?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garth Brooks Has a Suit!! (Who Knew?)

I suppose that when "Mr. President" invites you, it's time to BUY one if you don't have one.

President Barack Obama talks with Garth Brooks, who was presented with the "Grammy on the Hill Award" for his leadership in advancing the rights of music makers, in the Oval Office, April 14, 2010. The President was also presented with the 2007 Grammy Award for best spoken word album for his book "The Audacity of Hope." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who Writes This Stuff?

From one of Nashville's PR houses yesterday:
Carrie Underwood has kicked the sexy factor up a notch with her on-stage costumes on her new Play On tour, with things like a spandex catsuit and other form-fitting ensembles. Her stylist recently shared some of the scoop on how the wardrobe came together with People Country. Carrie enlisted the help of Soyon An, who is one of the costume designers for American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. While some people might think some of the outfits are a bit bold for Carrie, Soyon says, ”She’s very fashion forward and very open to different types of clothing. She wasn’t intimidated at all–she was ready for it. It’s a tough look but it’s her attitude–and obviously she’s got the body for it.”

Fortunately, as the People photo shows, there's a lot more to Carrie, who famously took a busload of radio people bowling at last year's CRS and the folks who went with her know that she's not all that "fashion forward" when off stage.

Has there ever been a superstar country female who got there accenting her "sexy factor?"

Yet, as Tom T. Hall pointed out as far back as 1969, show biz is all about "puttin' up a front" and that she more than does (to the second power!).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

721 Very Impressive Miles In 93 Days, Much More Ahead

Jimmy Wayne's Meet Me Halfway walk for homeless teens is such an impressive achievement that I simply do not have adequate words to express how much I admire his personal dedication and tenacity.

150 folks in Amarillo showed up Saturday after 93 days of walking to pat him on the back and wish him well.

If you haven't donated as yet, please do so. He has a long way to go. Seems like a click on a website and a few bucks on a credit card is the least all of us can do.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Another Sign It's 1988 Or 1998 All Over Again For Country Music Radio

I voted this morning in RBR/Harker Research's latest opinion poll and realized that for many of us the best prize of 2010 hasn't been about money at all.

It's been concert tickets targeting Boomers and X'ers on one hand and Millennial girls on the other: Garth Brooks in Las Vegas for our upper demos and Taylor Swift's arena show for teens and their parents.

One demo isn't all that interested in the prize that the other one is extremely rabid about.

Hopefully, someone is working in a garage right now with a band, an amp or two, perfecting some exciting new sounds and songs that will bridge that gap for us, soon.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Steve Knopper Thinks The Recording Industry Is Dying

The Rolling Stone contributing editor and author of four previous books latest, "Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age" came out in hardback a year ago and he did a lot of media interviews at that time.

Now, it's in paperback and his last
CSPAN repeat of a talk originally made in his hometown of Denver airs today.

If you haven't yet read the book or heard him interviewed, here's a strong recommendation to watch as he discusses what he believes is the rapidly approaching death of the recording industry.

It's fascinating to hear him say that the radio business does a very good job of staying close to the tastes of music fans, while that's something that record labels have not done until very recently.

Thanks for noticing, Steve!

He chronicles the recording industry's mistakes, as the digital age advanced and the role federal courts have played in providing a lifeline to the industry through the steady stream of infringement lawsuits that are upheld.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Top March Viral Videos Are Commercials

Continuing a trend established in January and February 2010, the videos selected by video-content distributor goviral for March 2010 were universally light in tone.

For the first time this year, goviral did not select any public service announcement videos. Four of the 10 videos selected for March centered on some form of athletic performance or achievement. (click to see the ranker) These include the number one video, which demonstrates a possibly staged trick performed on a BMW motorcycle, as well as a Pepsi video featuring famous soccer players, a Nike ad highlighting the connection between athletes (both famous and unknown), and an Adidas ad with numerous athletic and non-athletic celebrities.

Two videos featured humor mocking other brands. Sony Playstation directly ridicules the controllers used by rival Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system, and SpecSavers directly parodies the sexist ads from men’s body spray Axe that suggest men who use Axe will have beautiful women in bikinis purse them.

In a return to a trend seen in January 2010, most of last month’s videos were global in theme and featured little or no language. Globally famous celebrities and/or simple yet powerful imagery made these videos easily consumed by viewers anywhere in the world.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Learning From Lee Rogers

15-year KUPL, Portland morning host and 40-year programmer-personality Rogers is bouncing back very nicely in rehab and he guested on yesterday's Albright & O'Malley's morning morning show teleconference.

Take 45 minutes to listen to what Lee imparted and inspired us with (click to hear or download).

On air Listener engagement:

1. Give Them Inspiration! Connect - emotion
2. Get To Know Your Listener & be yourself on air
3. Know what you're going to say & who you're talking to.
4. What is everyone talking about? (your community) (see 2& 3)

Thanks to call participant Thane Phelan of "The Bull" in Yakima for the bullet-point recap.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Guess What These Words Have In Common

Average Joes, Bamajam, Bigger Picture, Black River, Blues Alley, BPG, Cold River, Grand Vista, Jaronwood, Krankit, Lofton Creek, Nine North, Pretty Damn Tough, Redneck Records, Ride, Robbins, Sea Gayle, Stoney Creek, Stroudavarious, Top Dog and Treehouse

Someone told me last week that there are currently almost 40 different "record" labels promoting songs and artists to radio right now from Nashville, even as the usual suspects appear to dominate the monitored charts week after week.

These are just a few I heard from recently - above and beyond the usual list of majors and major indies.

I feel for them, working hard to stand out from a very noisy crowd.

In spite of the difficult economy, it sure looks like there are still hopeful people with money in their pockets coming to Music City, pursuing their dreams.