Today, my fingers – and brain – get a much-needed break. But the even better news is that one of the best thinkers and writers in the biz was kind of enough to sit in for me. Dave Beasing is one of the most thoughtful broadcasters I've had the pleasure of working with.
After nearly a decade as the creative force behind LA's gone-but-not-forgotten 100.3 The Sound — and an even longer stint prior to that as a Jacobs consultant — Dave has launched a podcast studio called Sound That Brands He now resides at the intersection of Hollywood, radio, and podcasting.
He and Steve Goldstein of AmplifiMedia have begun co-producing “branded podcasts” – a different application of the medium that is already having an impact on the industry – and on the Apple Podcasts “chart.”
Dave has made L.A. his home for more than two decades, a landscape he loves and studies closely. It has helped guide his POV, providing him perspective on what it takes to produce great content and capture attention in the world's entertainment capital. Hollywood is a microcosm for what the rest of us will be watching – and listening to – in the future, so pay close attention to what Dave's talking about. He's got a great track record. Enjoy. – FJ
Remember Hollywood super agent Ari Gold? OK, so he was just a fictional character, brilliantly portrayed by actor Jeremy Piven on HBO's popular “Entourage” series. Maybe Ari seemed a little too real because he was based on another colorful Ari… Ari Emanuel, both a respected and feared talent agent in Hollywood. Emanuel left powerful agency ICM to form its competitor, Endeavor. Then he later merged that company with the venerable William Morris Agency. (And as some of you know, he's also the brother of embattled Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel.)
The “real” Ari's latest venture? Podcasting.
In a recent issue of Fast Company, Jeff Beer authored a story announcing the launch of Ari Emanuel's next big thing: Endeavor Audio. It's described as a division “specializing in podcast content development, financing, production, distribution, marketing, and monetization.” Law & Order creator Dick Wolf is among Emanuel's first recruits, bringing his flair for TV crime drama to the audio medium.
Back at ICM, almost two years ago, they formed a partnership with well-known radio agent Paul Andersen's Workhouse Media to channel their talent roster into podcasting. You can see where “the puck” is headed.
So what impact will all this Hollywood money and talent entering the world of on-demand audio have on you and me?
Here are 8 likely effects that could impact your station/company's audio content strategy:
1, Big stars are coming to audio. While the Jeremy Piven character had his hands full landing deals for Vincent Chase and his half-brother, Johnny “Drama,” Ari Emanuel handles an impressive list of icons that includes Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Charlie Sheen — to name a few. Imagine podcasts hosted by anyone from that all-star group.
2. Even more investment is on the way – Lots. When people see someone like Ari Emanuel anteing up, they follow. This will not be an isolated incident, and you can expect other Hollywood agents, moguls, and mavens to follow suit.
3. Broadcast radio must go big or go home – The real Ari has very real talent and serious investors in his corner. They — and others like them — sink millions into content projects without batting an eye. In order to compete for the ears of America, radio's leadership will need to step up investment in content, too.
4. Radio's current top talent may be tempted to take a hike, not a haircut – Ask any major talent who has renewed a contract lately, and they'll tell you: It was probably a difficult negotiation. If they didn't take a pay cut, that's considered a win. Same for top programmers. Just as back when satellite radio offered “greener” pastures to lure away Howard Stern, radio's top tier talent will soon have other options.
5. If you create audio content on the cheap, good luck! – Doing more with less isn't the future of audio content creation. Broadcasters won't be able to mail this in.
6. Radio must hire great storytellers – Even if their live airshifts don't require that talent, broadcasters need to provide the time, tools, and training for would-be podcasters. Fewer than a third of radio talent are podcasting, according the Jacobs AQ air talent survey. Many say they just don't have the time to podcast. Others don't know how or simply don't see the point. They may soon see their skills becoming outdated, much like those silent move stars who failed to make the transition to “talkies.”
7. Radio's sellers and managers need retraining – There is money to be made in podcasting, but many salespeople will find it easier to just keep peddling 60s and 30s for broadcast. Although on-air spot advertising isn't going away overnight, radio sellers would be wise not to let their competitors become more versatile at selling new forms of audio advertising.
8. Hollywood investment will spur a resurgence in audio – Here's the good news: Just as investments in original content by providers like HBO, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix helped create what's been called a new “Golden Age of Television. Added investment in content signal the renaissance of audio is on the horizon.
Are you excited? You should be! If you're not, that may be due to what my friend Buzz Knight calls “healthy paranoia.” Or what Fred Jacobs refers to as “FOFB — Fear Of Falling Behind.”
Harness that feeling. Let it motivate you. Take steps to assure your place in audio's future.
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