Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Look Out Alexa and Friends are on the march!!

You can see the quick rise of these devices over the last 8-10 months with the early adaptors.  According to Edison Research's Smart Audio Report with NPR in late June 2017 around 7% of the households, own one of these 'smart speakers'  The leaders are Amazon's Alexa and Google's Home and they are poised to be THE big deal this Christmas.  While it will not be as life changing as the smart phone, released 10 years ago, it could have a big impact on Radio listening.

Right now these devices can control smart devices like the thermostat, light switches, and more as they develop them.   They can also act like Siri on the phone and look things up on the web. But, the big deal for Radio and audio is - they can stream your audio with great sound into the house again.  In fact, the Edison/NPR study reports that 90% of the smart speaker owners bought it to listen to music.

For years and years, we've seen radio become a very portable and mobile medium with the car becoming the spot where most listening happens.  Now we have the chance to get back into the home with a new device.  No wonder the sessions at the NAB Radio show in Austin on these devices were well attended.  The only problem is we are competing with all the streaming channels (Spotify and Pandora) and every station in the world who is streaming through the big apps like I Heart and Tune In Radio.  They already have a 'Skills' app section in the Alexa world for 'partners' to link up to Alexa so you can order up an Uber or a Domino's Pizza.  Could there be a link for your station to have a skills app?

So how does your station take advantage of a new radio in the house?   First, we need to educate the audience to command Alexa to tune us in and that will be tricky.  Just saying 'Alexa I want to listen to Z100' might not bring the answer we expected.  How many Z100s are there in the world of streaming?  The key will lie in our call letters - but how many of us use our call letters all the time?   The answer is very few of us.  Does the audience even know our call letters?

We are going to have to start with a detailed campaign in our imaging and promos to explain to the audience how to order up our stations in Alexa land.  First, buy an Alexa and see what works for your station in your market.  Then craft your imaging campaign and make sure it's running enough to stand out.  In the end, our call letters may be very important to more than just the legal ID we bury in a sea of spots in the :50 stop set.

 Yes, only 7-10% of the audience has one now but, this will grow fast over the next year.  If you wait to jump in the pool it could be pretty crowded.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

When Does Classic Rock Get Moldy?

"Classic Rock - Rock That's Stood The Test of Time."  One of the classic sweepers for the format.  But, when does the music get too old?  Right now most Classic Rock stations have an average year of 1977 to 1980 in their music mix.   If we took all the songs over 30 days and averaged them we'd hit a year in that range - the songs are around 40 years old!!  So if you were 18 in 1978 you are now 57.   You are out of the 25-54 demo, coming up on 10 years out of 18-49s, and retirement is hopefully just a few years off.

If you look at the range of music played in the format nearly all of it comes from the mid 60's up to 1990.  Even the newest songs in the mix are almost 30 years old and the oldest are 50 years old.  If you look at the mix on the Classic Hits stations they are at least into the early 80s for the average year and often the mix extends into the early 90s.  It's been over 15 years since we began to see the end of the old - Oldies - format.  Oldies used to cover the late 50s to the late 70s and found itself too old to be effective in the 25-54 demo.  That's when the transition to Classic Hits began and saved the old oldies stations from the grave.

Will it happen to Classic Rock?  Part of the issue is that Classic Rock clearly defined itself as it positioned against rock stations that still played current songs in the 80s and 90s.  That's when the boundaries were set.   For the most part Gun's n Roses is the last band let into the format.  Once in a while, you see a few grunge era titles from Pearl Jam or Nirvana in the mix, but it's very light.  Classic Rock does not include the 90s or beyond - Grunge and Alternative are not in the club at most stations.  Some have expanded but usually, it's less than 4% of the mix.

Will there be a legacy or gold format built for today's 30-50 year old?  If you are 38 today you were 19 in the late 90s.  Does Classic Rock evolve or is the door open for a new approach and mix in rock?


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Radio Without People, Presence, and Community

Over the last 20 years, Radio has become more and more wrapped up in its music than it's link to the audience and the community.  Yes, we've all seen the research from the audience that always declares that the music is the most important ingredient on the music stations and that we should all shut up and play the hits.  The PPM meters show the levels diving off as the music ends - so we focus on just playing the hits over and over.

But, the reality is that the audience has access to music all over the place.  It's on their phones, streamed into apps, all over YouTube, and Spotify.   The real key to great radio in today's world is not just playing the hits with some catchy sweepers.  It's getting involved in the audience's life.  Being at the festivals, having the audience involved with the station on air, having the personalities become stars in the community and linking to that community in every way possible.

To do this it takes people.  Just having a syndicated morning show and a bunch of sweepers between the songs isn't going to really draw a dominate audience anymore.  It takes some people and a plan.  You can't just flip on the auto studio and expect the audience to engage, even if you play the right music.  Music has really become defense - just don't let the other stations or music providers score.  You can't score much with music.  There are places to find it first and places that play more of it along with more places that specialize in any genre of music you can play.  You like edm-chill music there are whole channels streaming 24/7.

Where you score points and create offense in radio is with your personality and community presence.

In many markets the Summer is when you can really pour it on in the community.  Take full advantage it's scoring time.