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The importance of the web to radio’s future

IF RADIO WANTS LISTENERS, IT may find them on a sister medium. According to a new research report released by CreditSuisse (CS), radio Web sites can attract larger online audiences. “We view the Internet as the primary ‘new’ distribution platform that radio operators could utilize to attract substantial incremental listeners,” says CS analyst Michael Klim.

That’s the essence of this article, which takes up where my long-time argument leaves off.

It is shocking that radio pays so little attention to web-related opportunities overall (with Clear Channel being an increasingly obvious exception). It’s no wonder online radio listeners prefer dedicated online radio sites to the streams of the terrestrial stations they know and love – if they can even find their favorite terrestrial stations online. The only way to change this is by moving the industry’s strategic focus off pointless distractions and onto distribution channels which are almost as ubiquitous as radio and growing rapidly in importance and usage.

Is there more competition online? You bet. But that’s a poor excuse for abandoning the fight. Especially when nobody knows how to create compelling audio content better than the folks who do it every day.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: In a world where you create content which is unique and attractive, the most profitable play is to license that content across every available distribution channel. What? You’re just a music box? Too bad for you.

Is online radio likely to cannnibalize terrestrial radio? Some research says no, but logic and experience dictates that if we don’t cannibalize ourselves, somebody else will do it for us. Do you really want to lose listeners to AOL and Google and Yahoo?

I strongly recommend that the radio industry organize around this issue with the same zeal we organized around HD radio. Yes, I know that’s unlikely.

But it’s essential.

Or one day, you’ll be hearing me say “I told you so.”

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