Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

Happy New Year!!  Here at the start of the 2014 it looks like there is a lot to look forward to in Radio.  The Economy is improving and we still have a strong media with a great reach.   Yes our loyalty is challenged as more and more options for music, news and entertainment pop up everywhere but we are clearly in the game.    

So what can we look forward to in 2014?  Let's start with a look at music:

Music - 2014 looks like it could be a year of SURPRISES.

Pop: 2013 saw 3 big divas return with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Beyonce.   Plus we also had lots from the last group of divas - J-Lo, Mariah, and Britney, trying -- but not in peak form.  Rihanna continued to be a presence as she gears up for a 2014 release - this could be a big year for her.  Taylor Swift will also be releasing in 2014 but it looks like there could be room for a new pop-diva to emerge over the Summer.  Justin Timberlake was also a big presence in 2013, which will likely fade in 2014 as the best from his releases has already hit.   Will Maroon 5 be able to pull in another big round of huge pop songs?   Will Bruno Mars pull in a bigger presence?  Then there's Miley and Bieber boy - is it about 'them' or their music.  While there are plenty of big stars here you can sense the timing is there for some big new faces to emerge.

The Alt - Indie Rock movement seemed to have a healthy presence in the overall music stages throughout 2013.  It started the year with Imagine Dragons, Lumineers, Monsters and Men, and Fun.  Then we witnessed Capitol Cities and Lorde finish off the year strong.  Will this movement pull in some fresh faces for 2014?  Will we see follow up power from some of the artists here or are they one hit wonders?

Rock - Not much going on here, but will 2014 pull in a big surprise act that rocks the house?  The potential is there for a group with some 'indie cred' to break through here with the right look and feel.

Country - While Pop music still has a lot of the music spotlight at center stage Country keeps building more and more younger stars.  It seems like we get 2 or 3 fresh faces every year that seem to emerge and grab the spotlight. There is no reason for this to change in 2014.  Nashville has built a great team that works well with Radio, covers TV well and has kept up with all the social media tricks.  Their model is also not built solely on selling CDs --  touring, endorsements, videos, fan engagement, and celebrity all play big roles and Nashville seems to execute all these roles consistently.

Rap - Hip Hop - It seems like we always have new faces here to watch - but the need to push the edge all the time often limits the reach here.   The movement of the last 4-5 years of more and more Hip Hop integration into pop music seems destined to continue - it's become too valuable and important.  But at the same time there seems to be an authentic underground that closes itself off.

Dance - It seemed like there were clear signs of a breakthrough for Dance music, but it seemed flatten out as 2013 rolled on.

One trend to keep an eye on is 'music with a message.'  Just go back and look at Blurred Lines, Royals, and many other big hits that had a lot of lyric power in them.

A year to keep your eyes and ears open you can almost smell a change or a surprise in the 'music weather' brewing.

There are lots of other topics to look at for 2014.   Over the next week let's take a look at 4 other areas that could be important 2014 areas.  Happy New Year!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Nielsen Audio Wish List

One of the biggest 'change events' for our whole industry in 2013 was Nielsen buying Arbitron.   Nothing hits more at the heart of our world than the ratings and having it switch to Nielsen and actually start the morphing into a central measurement service that covers many different media is destined to have a big impact.   

It's also Christmas time so let's combine these 2 topics and have a seat on Jolly Ole Nick Nielsen's lap and see what he can fit under the tree.  

Here's my list Nick Nielsen:  

  1. Sample Size - Great move to improve the sample sizes in the PPM markets and especially in the 30-50 ranked markets where it was very weak.  But let's not stop there.  The smaller markets that are still on diaries still need to have a much stronger sample.  There is so much weighting going on in these markets it's very hard to trust the data - especially in the younger all important Millennial age cells. Nick we've been very good broadcasters outside of the top 50 markets serving our communities and in many markets you can sell to someone other than the big 3 giving you some diversity in your client base. 
  2. The Diary - Let's face it the diary is completely useless technology to collect data with.  With most of the population under 40 this is sort of like bring out a quill and a bottle of ink.  We can see it all the time with the lack of response from the under 40 year olds and also we have to wonder - 'are the ones who will cooperate with this antique data collection system' representative of the general population or are they a very tight sub cell?  Perhaps they are Amish? With today's new smart phones there are many more ways to collect data that is way more accurate - similar to how the PPM data works.  Also consider the huge costs of processing all this paper, postage and recruiting a fresh sample every week.  
  3.  The Demos - We drew up the 25-54 standard back in the 70s and 80s when the baby boomers were all represented in this broad cell.  It became the standard for using radio, but now it's time to move on and realize that generations evolve and age and we need a system and a standard that is not pegged on what was the demo profile of 30 years ago.  Nielsen is the one with the data and the one who stands in the middle of the buyers of our media and our media builder/seller side.  Education, some innovation, and look at the design of the software and the reports.  There are ways for Nielsen to start a new revolution here and give radio a chance to show that it can impact many important generations - not just one.  
  4. Costs - Radio operators bare the brunt of the costs and in the future it looks like our sample will be providing data for a number of media operators with Nielsen offering lots of sellers and buyers data based on the sample they draw for 'audio' measurement.  Their buying pool will increase, that should mean that Radio costs can come down.   
Many of us have some fears here.  Will Radio get lost in a sea of competitors that all show up in some form of combined media standard?  Will our needs in gathering data take a back seat so mobile media, pure play streamers, video services, Social Media sites and web portals all grow at our expense when a 'standard' is set?  But, in the end it's time to give the buyers the data they need and do our best to make 'Audio' broadcasting the star of the show.  

Surely you can add to the list.   So have a seat on Nick Nielsen's knee and have a great holiday.