As consumers have gravitated to streaming services, podcasts, playlist creation, and other audio content, radio broadcasters need to clearly identify their key differentiators.
In our Techsurveys over the past several years, our “Why Radio?” question has provided revealing data – by format, by generation, by gender – about what separates radio from the cornucopia of new media options.
Radio is simple and easy to listen to, convenient to listen to in the car, and is free – all key elements that keep broadcast radio stations viable and profitable.
Personalities also play a role, too. While it varies by format, an attachment to a morning show, a midday DJ companion, or an afternoon host can provide context, a sense of place, and interesting local information. On music stations, that often means concerts and performances coming to town, whether at stadiums, arenas, or even clubs.
And to a great degree, that's been part of radio's “secret sauce.” Until now.
A few weeks ago in his wonderful Podnews newsletter, futurist James Cridland included an exchange between a consumer and Google Voice that went like this:
That's pretty smart for an algorithm. And it shows the confluence of playlist services, voice, and AI. All of a sudden, Google and Spotify are doing essentially what DJs do. And that was precisely Cridland's point.
And it gets even more interesting when you consider how technology is attempting to augment – or replace – information that once came from those humans sitting in an air studio behind the mic.
A case in point is Bandsintown, a platform consisting of half a million musicians and 50 million users. The killer app, if you will, is that Bandsintown bring those who make music together with those like it. It's about live music discovery – not just listening to the music, but also alerting fans via text or email when a favorite artist is coming to town.
Obviously, this is a data play, showing Bandsintown the music fans love and the artists who make it come alive. A story in Flood by Max Freedman also notes musicians and bands can publish tour dates and show them on their own web properties.
And not only can fans track their favorites, artists can ask for their opinions and even get insights on potential tour stops. All this data means Bandsintown's algorithm can make relevant recommendations about other concerts. And they're already made some partnerships, including Billboard.
So, what does this mean to radio?
Clearly, the old way of disseminating concert information is as dated as school closing reports. For music stations with an audience of avid music followers and concertgoers, a more robust concert presence that is live and local would seem to be a smart tool.
So, on the one hand, partnering with apps, platforms, and companies like Bandsintown might make a world of sense. Between radio's local cume audience, attachment to hometown personalities, and its relationships with venues and promoters, stations could be great collaborators with a brand like Bandsintown.
But radio also has a real-time tool – its metadata. We think about RDS and HD Radio's Artist Experience features as being relatively static. They change when a station plays the next song.
But the technology allows for messaging – and in HD Radio-equipped vehicles – photos and other graphics that could provide concert information. You can clearly see the upside potential for both sales and programming while people are in their #1 listening location – the car. Services like Quu already provide these capabilities for radio station.
Bandsintown is already becoming a popular go-to concert discovery tool. But in Jacksonville or Juneau, there are a lot more people listening to local radio than connected to its app (pictured right).
Solving a problem for the audience – in this case, connecting the experience of listening to music with local concert information – is a smart way to provide a better user experience for listeners.
It's important for radio broadcasters to up their game or risk its historical position as a go-to source for this information.
So, what's going on this weekend in your town?
I'll be moderating an Info Session at the Radio Show this afternoon at 3:30pm in the DeSoto Room – sponsored by Xperi – that highlights new uses of HD Radio Artist & Advertiser Experience in the car.