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What the new KCRW iPad app means for you

To really understand the opportunities available to expand a radio brand you need to begin by understanding why the brand exists and why the audience should care.

If you have a reason to exist – a mission, if you will – then you can expand your brand across platforms in a manner which fits that mission, even if it means creating applications which don’t quite look like the brand they emerged from.

So it is with the cool new iPad app from KCRW, called the KCRW Music Mine.

KCRW is, as you may know, most famous for curating music discovery – or, as regular folks might say, it’s a station that keeps fans in touch with cool new music.  That is one of its core missions.

So when you go about creating an iPad app, what do you do?  Do you create a vehicle to play the station stream?  Do you provide lots of info about who’s on the air and what’s in their blogs?  Do you show “what’s playing now?”  Do you offer a contest page?  What do you do?

Well, if your mission is to introduce and recommend music to an audience which reaches well beyond LA you do none of those things.

Instead you create an app like this:

This app isn’t “what’s on the air,” but it’s clearly related to it.  That’s interesting enough, but even more interesting is how complex it is. The “music mine” metaphor is really more of a music puzzle metaphor.  And the thing about puzzles is that they are games.  And the thing about games is that folks like to play them online.  So the value in the app isn’t just what the app does but how the app does it.

So here KCRW has created an app that makes consumers work for their discovery – they turn it into a game.  The act of discovery becomes a process of discovery, if that makes any sense.

It’s not the radio station per se – it’s an experience enabled and powered by the radio station.  And that’s how you extend a brand without simply “repurposing” it.

The brand is bigger than the station – it’s as big as the mission that drives the station.

So don’t imagine that this is the perfect app for your station brand.  But do recognize that it’s the perfect app for KCRW’s mission.

And isn’t that what the audience is really there for, what the donors and members are really paying for?

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