Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Once Again, Bonneville Gets It Right

“We are in serious jeopardy. We’ve got to invest….we’ve run historically at such great margins, we’ve been reluctant to knock a point or two off of it to invest. I'm still not sure that streaming by itself is a great business.”

I am with Bruce Reese
: streaming should be thought of as a promotional expense and we should stop playing low dough (or bonus spot) commercials on our streams, other than maybe sponsoring 20-60 minute blocks of the music we want our portals to be famous for.

If we are going to take on Pandora we need to use our megaphone differently on the web.

Example. Instead of getting a buck. Get 10 and play 10 less commercials. Or hours sponsored by major advertisers (not for value-added, for value!).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Have You Updated Your Artist Separation Policy Lately?

These five acts account for 36% of Mediabase's Top 100 Power Gold hits:

Kenny Chesney - 10
Tim McGraw - 8
Toby Keith - 7
Rascal Flatts - 6
Keith Urban - 5

Many of us allow "super star" names to play more than once per hour, but if you're rotating the wrong ones too heavily, that may be contributing to listener repetition complaints.

See today's Country Aircheck for the complete list.

Even better, base your local list of "A, B and C acts" and rotational rules on your local listeners' tastes, not just national charts.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why I Love NAB's Radio Show

The sessions are eye-opening, the research presentations are always impressive and the free handout publications are almost worth the price of registering in themselves (almost, since you can click those links to view them free right now).

Then, there's the exhibits. For one, U.S. Tape & Label's new twist on the usual packets of radio bumper/window stickers.

They now also have a business card on adhesive tape. It would be great for a "Club (frequency)," "Party Line," "Cryin' Lovin' Leavin'" or "Lunchtime Request Cafe" host to remind listeners to stick the station phone and frequency on their telephone.

Also new: a window sticker designed to go on sliding glass patio doors, which can then be marketed as safety devices.

When you encounter something that's share-worthy, please add a comment and plug it!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Radio At Its Best Has Been Making The Invisible More Physical For Decades

A co-founder of Ofoto (now the Kodak Gallery), and GM of Eastman Kodak’s Digital Imaging Lisa Gansky has written about a fundamental building block of modern business, sharing:
"The Mesh is the new way of doing business. Mesh businesses leverage data and social networks to enable people to share goods and services efficiently and conveniently-to gain superior access to what they need without the burdens or expense of ownership. There are already thousands of these businesses-in transportation, fashion, food, real estate, travel, finance, entertainment and many other categories-with more starting every day.The Mesh has emerged as the best new creative engine for getting more of what we want, exactly when we want it, at less cost to ourselves and the planet."

Want something to ponder?

Watch this video and ask yourself what makes it different than a radio remote broadcast.

If this is a totally new business model, as she asserts, it seems to me that we've been doing business just like that for 50 years, quite successfully and now we have more new competition from small entrepreneurs.

Will social networks make "our" approach - mass marketing something that is of interest to less than a couple hundred folks at this minute - obsolete?

Or, even more powerful and effective than ever?

That depends on what radio does when a station or personality "pops up."

What unique, compelling experiences, driven by content, can you provide, compared to emerging "free" media?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If Canada's Cultural Institutions Are Coming Undone, Who's Next?

At the moment, Canadian listeners are still unable to listen to the streams of most American radio stations owned by major broadcasters or the CMT site from Nashville due to "rights" issues.

How much longer can border barriers on any country's unique content like those hold up in the face of a huge global market and the money it represents?

If Ottawa lacked the will to do it, who does?

Much as I dislike the growing power of a small handful of media conglomerates, the agenda was set when the CRTC ruled the internet was outside of its jurisdiction. In that one fateful decision the future of Canada’s cultural institutions was decided on. The new world of unregulated media no longer is obligated to support Canada’s cultural institutions and without funding its Lady Gaga and Hollywood all the way to the bank.

For those that can remember a more giving time it is easy to wax nostalgic and cry a river over the loss of a Canada past, but in reality that Canada passed us by some time back. We just failed to take note of the fact. For good, bad or worse, protectionism is off the table, global influences are pervasive and unfettered capitalism is now democracy’s ungiving dictator.

-- David Farrell

Monday, September 20, 2010

Country Listeners Seem To Love Analog Radio In Their Cars

VIP Research and Mark Ramsey reported yesterday that while roughly one-third of 12+ consumers "would listen less to local radio if access to stations on the Internet was as easy to use as your radio..., 75.24% of respondents who listen to country music radio claim they would tune in just as much to “my local radio stations” (if offered the technology), a higher percentage than the other 17 format listeners included in the research.

The survey asked 2,000 radio listeners covering 22 markets, “If tomorrow you could get Internet access from the dashboard of your car and you could listen to thousands of radio stations from all over the world through an Internet receiver on your dash as easy to use as your radio, would you (a) Listen less to my local radio stations as I explore new ones online, or (b) Listen just as much to my local radio stations no matter what’s online.”

Fewer than half (48%) of of the country listeners (second only to 46% of classical fans, the group which was the least so inclined) want in-car Internet radio.

Would they rather have a radio in their portable mp3 player, iPod or an in-car Internet radio?

Again, (analog) FM wins (in the portable players, please).

The country radio consumers (38%) were second only to (40%) alternative listeners as the most likely to want a radio in their iPod/mp3 player.

The telephone survey of 2,141 adults was conducted August 10-25 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.0% at the 95% confidence level.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are You Getting As Weary As I Am?

Jerry Del Colliano and Mark Ramsey are both brilliant individuals.

Both guys are longtime friends, whose expertise and access to great information makes them always worthy of paying attention to.

I've attended numerous Del Colliano (4 Bold Media Predictions) presentations over the years, having been an early Inside Radio subscriber.

I continue to rely on and recommend Ramsey's (Get Rid of your Station’s Website) innovative research approaches at man clients. And, of course, "change agents" are rarely welcomed at any time as history.

We humans are seemingly conditioned to resist evolutions and yet are also fascinated by it, as Spencer Johnson's impressive book sales over the last several decades has shown.

There were probably folks who - just like them - told every blacksmith shop around the turn of the last century to change business models immediately and indeed many of the first used car dealers were former horse traders and blacksmith shops, pioneers in a new business which ultimately employed many more people than their old businesses did, but it also turns our that the 'smithing trade can still be a very lucrative business today as well.

Let's vow to look for broader perspectives among the town criers we pay attention to, never ignoring warnings of impending falling skies, but also holding onto every existing audience and revenue source as long as possible too.

Suggestion: keep reading those negative soothsayers, but also add Edison Research, RAB, NAB, Harker Research, AllAccess, Radio-Info, AllAboutCountry and Full Throttle Country, among others, each day as well to keep your attitude in balance. (add a comment below with any other great daily radio reads you like as well)

We all "...could use a little good news today..." too, don't you think?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Want To See More Measurements Before Deciding What This Means

Was a radio tuning myth debunked during last Friday’s web presentation by Astral on the first full currency year of PPM results in Canada?

Summer, it seems, isn’t the write-off we all thought it was. With PPM comes a new measure over one full year of radio tuning across the four seasons – in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

In Toronto, consistency for 18-54s across all seasons.

Edmonton tuning dropped in winter, then picked up in spring and increases were found in summer.

Vancouver had consistency in fall, winter and spring with a 9% tuning hours drop in summer.

Calgary saw highest tuning in fall while winter and spring were flat and summer was up 6%.

In Montreal, spring and summer were up slightly compared to fall and winter.

My first take: since the measure is now 6+ and not 12+ as is the case in diary ratings, the impact of family vacations and children and teen radio use during summer months and the lack of it during the periods when students are in school could be distorting adult "away from home" listening estimates.

Or, are we just looking at variations in the statistical reliability of five different panel samples and nothing real at all?

Jim Seiler invented diary measurement of broadcasting in 1949 and was fond of reminding his clients for many years "don't believe anything in Arbitron until you see it three times."

That is why I am hoping ARB, which will have 43 PPM markets online by the end of the year will start tracking the seasonality of total persons using radio too, so that we don't have to wait three more years to find out if the Astral researchers have spotted a meaningful trend or just sample wobbles which will be totally different in another year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Country Music Is Authentic, Relatable, Emotional. Country Radio?

In recent weeks TV news branding consultant Graeme Newell has been writing about the specific differences between a slogan and a brand as well as effective and ineffective brands.

On one hand, he's only talking about "news."

On the other, he's talking about US too!

With that in mind, I asked Reel World’s Craig Wallace to create a list of the phrases their writers and singers have been successfully cramming onto the notes of one of their hottest country packages right now.
  • "The Best Variety Of Country"
  • "Today's Best Country"
  • "Today's Hot New Country"
  • "Continuous Hot Country Favorites"
  • "Today's Best And Most Country"
  • "More Continuous Country"
  • "Number One For Country"
  • "Today's Country And Your All-Time Favorites"
  • "Your Country Station"
...and "(city)'s Best Country" and "(city)'s Country Station."

Is this really everything we want our brands to stand for?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sharing The Sizzle

It's really nice to see artists reaching out, working to stay close to their fans.

1. "Welcome to Kenny Chesney's reality. The country star says he loves to help fans escape the worries of everyday life, which is where he got the inspiration for his new tune "Reality." And has your exclusive first listen of the song off Chesney's upcoming album, Hemingway's Whiskey." (click the link to watch and listen to it)

But, it's doubly nice when the act and the label give that opportunity to radio first.

2. "Exclusive Behind the Scenes Keith Urban Footage for "Put You In A Song" Click on the YouSendIt link for exclusive footage of Keith recording it in the studio. You can download it to your website. There's no time limit on your end but it will be exclusive to Country Radio until next Tuesday (9/21) when it will also go to Keith's website. -- Capitol Records Nashville"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crêpe Suzette

I got a lesson in teasing content last Saturday night with a party of friends dining at West Edmonton Mall’s trendy “L2 Grill.”

While our group was in the midst of dinner we observed closely as our waiter attended to another table by creating a Caesar salad table side for them, using some surprising, unique ingredients.

So, we all took a chance and asked him to whip up Crêpe Suzette for our dessert.

He came to the table and did his culinary magic right before our eyes, culminating of course with a colorful flambé.

Then, after dessert as he refilled our coffee cups he made sure that our dinner was exceptional for everyone and also confirmed that the crepe was delicious. After doing so, he informed us that L2 is the only Edmonton restaurant to create Caesar and suzettes table-side.

We all agreed that we’ll be back again and again for more of that.

The lesson: there’s certainly nothing wrong with trying to recycle your audience into great content experiences by "selling" them in advance, but there’s no better time to do so than right after you’re absolutely certain that the reception to your "benchmark/event" is 100+% positive.

Less description and hyperbole is required; success is assured.

1. Do what listeners love.
2. Ascertain for sure that they did love it.
3. Invite them back with appointment listening when you plan to offer an equally pleasurable event.

A big menu of dishes that everyone else also serves, simply presented a lot better than the rest, won't drive as much loyalty and regularity is becoming famous for a select few delightful experiences no one else does but you.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Need Some Commercial-Creation Inspiration?

Sixty diverse Radio spots (listen to them here) have made it to the finals of the 2010 Radio Mercury Awards, which honors outstanding Radio created by agencies, production companies, Radio stations and students. Entries were judged on their creativity, originality and effective communication of a brand’s message. The second Annual Radio Creative Summit was once again held in conjunction with the final round judging, this year at the VCU BrandCenter in Richmond, Virginia.

“We’re continuing to see marketers leverage Radio in unique ways. This year’s high caliber of brands speak to the medium’s reach and flexibility” -- Jeff Haley, President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau.

Winners will be announced on Monday, September 27th at the Annual Radio Mercury Awards at the NASDAQ MarketSite. A limited amount of tickets are available for purchase. Contact or call 212-681-7207.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Nielsen: Search Slips, Email and Social Networks Rule Mobile Web Uses

A new view of May's “What Americans Do Online” still shows Email to be, by far, the dominant sector in terms of mobile time, although this dominance shrinks by a few delta points to 38.5% from 41.6%. Search is another that nets out with a smaller share, although by less than a percentage point from 7.1% to 6.3%.

The share held by Social Networking remains very similar but News & Current Events comes out much stronger using the site-level analysis at a 7.2% share of time compared to 4.4% of time using the category-level analysis.

Share of time on Portals shows something more dramatic, with a change from 11.6% to 4.6% share of time, but this doesn’t mean that people are spending any less time on Portal sites, it's just that they are spending a lot more time now on email and social nets, checking out the buzz topics and their friends' status.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Nielsen: Radio's Reach Is Up

Cell phone only homes and 18-34's use of radio, both in terms of cume and time spent with the medium have grown in the last year, according to Nielsen estimates of national radio rating trends.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Marketing Lessons From CMA

The 2010 CMA Music Festival was a huge success in many ways, not the least of which as an opportunity for sponsors to personally touch fans individually. CMA provided each corporate partner a customized wrap book that showcased their presence and activities in positive ways after the event, so that they'll want to see and be seen next year too.

If you do NTR events, you'd be proud of what your industry organization did this year on the country music business' behalf, but also you'll learn a thing or two about how to create a big event for fun and profit.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

History Repeats Itself, But Why Does It Have To Wait So Long?

On April 29, 1996, I wrote to clients in a "Winter ARB status report":
Two things are already obvious 1) country is having a harder time holding onto P-2 and P-3 listeners in the wake of growth at CHR, AC and pop alternative and 2) ARB's 25-34 male sample improvement techniques appear to have caused sample buffering in the last month of the fall book, and that (buffering? or simply more men in the sample now?) may have hurt country's 18-34 showing. Thirty-five-plus the format appears quite stable.

Sound familiar?

Of course, by 2006, we were on the "high" propelled by (among numerous others) "Live Like You Were Dying," "Redneck Woman" and "Save A Horse Ride A Cowboy," which didn't last quite as long as past historical peaks in country popularity both with the traditional core and interested outsiders too, thanks to Lady Gaga, Beyonce and American Idol's popifying influence on Top 40. And, as usual, those formats are stealing country's biggest songs as quickly as we familiarize our cume with them.

All you need to do is look at how depressed country radio's shares are in highly ethnic PPM markets right now - Las Vegas is the most breathtaking, since it was just two U.S. census reports ago back in those 1990's when two country stations consistently ranked in the top five and now together they have a combined 5.5 12+ share - to become hopeful that we don't have to wait until 2016 for the next "bump," which inevitably is coming, as it always has about every seven to ten years - from Hank Sr., to Patsy Cline, to Glen Campbell, to "Urban Cowboy," to the class of 1989.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Top 10 Reasons Why Radio Is Better Than The Mobile Web

10. It doesn't take minutes to buffer and load whenever you change stations.
9. When was the last time you tuned in to a radio station and got a "Not Found 404" message?
8. There are fewer grating color schemes on radio. Even on MTV.
7. The family never argues over which Web site to visit this morning.
6. A car radio has fewer buttons than a keyboard or a Blackberry.
5. Even the worst radio stations never excuse themselves with an "Under Construction" sign.
4. Shawn Parr, Lisa Dent or Bob Kingsley never slow down when a lot of people tune in.
3. You just can't find those cool network P.I. commercials on the Web.
2. Your iPod Nano with FM doesn't beep and whine when you hook up to your favorite radio station and can’t find a fast wireless connection and must try to log on with dial-up.
1. You can't seek and scan the Web from a couch with a beer in one hand and Doritos in the other.