Digital technology seems to know no bounds. Every time you turn around, there’s a another innovation, a cool gadget, or an app that performs miraculous feats.
Paul and I are amping up our talks with the team at the Consumer Technology Association – the group we work with that puts together our CES/CEO Tours. We’re finalizing our plans for all the stops in and around the convention center, highlighted by visits to Amazon and Google.
But one thing we’ve learned – especially from our visits to “Eureka Park” at CES: it’s not just the big companies experimenting with cool new technology. Many smaller startups are working hard to develop “the next big thing.”
My reading and prowling around the Internet in the search for the next innovation we’ll be talking about has uncovered three eye-opening new finds.
1. Be your own DJ
Musician Ryan Star has launched a new company featuring an app (iOS only for now) that allows anyone to become a DJ. The Stationhead app lets consumers literally jock their playlists on Spotify and Apple Music, including even dropping in phone calls. (Wonder if there’s a way to run 9th caller contests?)
Star points to the power of music conversations that makes playlists come to life:
“Music is the social glue that gets them to talk,” Star told TechCrunch.
Billboard says Stationhead could be “the shot in the arm” the streaming industry needs. And Spotify’s global head of creator services, Troy Carter, says the addictive app “turns everybody into a DJ.”
Of course, everyone in broadcasting believes curated radio should be more compelling than algorithmically built streams or even playlists put together by fans.
Now radio just has to sound as enthusiastic and engaged as the “guest DJs” strapping on their headphones and using the Stationhead app.
2. “Alexa, pour me a drink”
If you thought voice command gadgets were just the province of Alexa, Siri, Cortana, or “Hey, Google,” think again.
Brands are coming up with their own creative use of this technology. One of the most interesting is Jim Beam’s voice-activated bourbon decanter.
This video shows you all you need to know about the device works:
The character, JIM, personalizes the gadget, and features the voice of Jim Noe, the brand’s master distiller – Jim Beam’s rock star.
It’s a reminder to everyone in radio jumping into the smart speaker game that your station face – your core DJs – are your most important asset and differentiator when designing “skills” for these gadgets. Sure, Alexa sounds good, but everyone uses her. “Skills” that feature Preston & Steve or The Men’s Room are what brings identity and richness to devices like the Amazon Echo.
They are what sets your brand apart.
And drink responsibly.
3. Cassettes are BAAAACK!
We all know about the vinyl record resurgence, but now the hippest of the hip are proving their cutting edge sensibilities with another retro piece of software:
Marketplace reports that high-profile artists including Justin Bieber, Eminem, and Metallica have released their music on cassettes. They say cassette sales are now at their highest level in a decade.
Writer Russell Padmore points to Alan Williams, head of Tapeline, the only company left making cassette tapes in the UK. Williams says the cassette comeback is about nostalgia, but it’s also about novelty.
Here in the U.S., National Audio saw a 31% increase in their cassette sales, and major labels are now jumping into the pool.
Oddly enough, we used cassettes – especially the homemade kind – in our original marketing of Classic Rock way back in the early ’80s. The concept was that a new radio station had stolen your favorite albums (or cassette collection), and was on the air playing your favorite songs.
Here we are, more than 30 years later, and cassette “technology” is making an unlikely comeback.
We may have to re-learn that old cassette rewinding by hand trick with a pen or pencil. To be sure you’re prepared, I’m pleased to offer you the accompanying lesson (left).
Of course, we’ll be reporting about the newest tech trends from the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center at CES 2018 next month. There’s still time to join our CES/CEO tour. To learn more, email me: email@example.com
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.