One Great Song After Another

Written Apr. 17, 2009 by Tom Webster in Internet Radio + Social Networking with 0 Comments not enough. Certainly, many broadcasters should already know this, but one of the slides we presented in yesterday's Infinite Dial presentation underlines this observation pretty clearly:

Infinite Dial 2009 Presentation_Page_54.png

What this slide shows us is the percentage of Americans who own/use each listed device or platform who say that this device/platform has had a "big impact" on their lives (4 or 5 on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being "no impact.") The big, obvious takeaway here is the 47% of mobile phone owners who say that these devices have had a big impact on their lives--more than twice as high as the similar measurement for AM/FM radio users, iPod users or satellite radio users. It is worth focusing on the bottom of this chart, though, and there is a lesson here for terrestrial broadcasters streaming their content AND for pure-play internet broadcasters--make content that matters.

Today, flexibility, control, and personalization are just part of the cost of doing business. Merely having an engine that plays "one great song after another" does not erect a strategic moat around your business plan, nor does it protect you from being one bad song away from losing audience. True, there are some online contenders out there that have a strategic advantage by dint of a markedly superior interface, or a noticeably superior personalization or discovery engine, but most online radio of the music variety consists of stream after stream of jukeboxes--if one goes away tomorrow, there are a thousand to replace it.

Content producers online need to make media that matters in order to nudge this score up--and it is important to nudge this score up, because it will be in the recognition of online radio's importance to the lives of consumers that will lead to successful monetization strategies and effective brands. If there is anything that social media has shown us, it's that people connect with people. And if you are producing online radio of any kind, you cannot forget that. One of my favorite focus group questions to ask in a media project is the "epitaph question" -- if (station/brand) went away tomorrow, what would you miss most about it? It's personality and passion that provide the easy answers for respondents here--if they struggle to answer, then you won't be missed when you go.

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