What If Radio Taxes the Music Industry?

Next week I am appearing on a panel in Santa Monica (The Copyright Office Comes to California) devoted to repealing the performance tax exemption from radio. The NAB will have Suzanne Head, a representative, on the panel. I guarantee you we'll both be in agreement that any attempt to tax radio for helping the music industry make money for free is wrongheaded.

But, as we say in New Jersey, "who don't know that?"

You know why the labels are desperate to raise money. They are losing control. Their arch enemy, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, has trumped them again. Apple's online iTunes music store is now the number-two music&hellip

New Rules For Radio PDs

An ex-program director is like an ex-Marine.

There are no such things.

Like the Marine, once a PD always a PD. We have worked in the trenches. We performed well before consolidation and we know what is working about today's radio content.

I'm one. Many of my friends are one -- some still have jobs in radio. There is a reason why three people make or break the management of a radio station -- the general manager, sales manager and program director.

During the Dark Ages -- 1996-present AD (After Deregulation) managers holding these critical positions were lured, then forced, then threatened with taking on&hellip

The Mourning Radio Show

Lost in all the cutbacks, firings and cost adjustments that consolidators have been making the last few months is the demise of the morning radio show.

The morning slot is responsible for up to 50% of a radio station's total revenue yet that apparently means nothing to consolidators desperate to make their latest poor quarter look a little better.

Clear Channel is the leader in dismantling morning shows but CBS is not far behind. They are the biggest, but they're not alone. Other operators are no better -- the morning show is no longer sacred.

We've seen morning teams divided in half -- one half left to create all&hellip

Ad Blocking

It doesn't take long to figure out that the next generation doesn't like advertising.

Its curious because their world -- the Internet -- is cluttered with ads, search results, links, videos, pop-ups and the like from companies desperate to get through to them.

TV isn't getting the job done.

Radio? Forget about it. Any medium that thinks six commercials in a cluster will be heard is mistaken. It is a miracle that radio got away with it so long.

The Clear Channel of their world is Google -- the search giant you can't ignore. Google seems to be on a mission to be everywhere with its search-based advertising and&hellip

Saving Radio

One of my readers asked if I had any ideas on how the radio industry could redirect its efforts in light of all its mounting problems.

He said,

The XM+Sirius+HD Radio

Inside Radio is reporting that at least one analyst (Blair Levin of Stifel Nicolaus) thinks the FCC may mandate radios that include HD plus satellite stations as a condition of winning approval for the XM-Sirius merger.

The HD Radio Alliance and iBiquity (the folks who brought you radio

NPR Outsmarts Commercial Radio

My old friend and radio executive Bill Figenshu wrote to me over the weekend with some thoughts on the recent New York Times article about why National Public Radio is thriving and PBS television is hurting.

Fig says, "..they (NPR) have grown, have none of the negative commercial radio issues, and did it without taking the 8th caller, TV or any marketing budget, slamming PPM, HD, or "less is more." In many cases, the public radio signals are not exactly "blowtorches." They did it
with good programming, a long view of content, and a&hellip

Radio’s Grudge Helps Satellite Radio

There are few things that aggravate radio executives more than satellite radio.

For years they were so blinded by the prospect of competition from satellite radio that terrestrial operators actually thought they were competing with satellite. Some still think so.

This in spite of the fact that together XM and Sirius only have about 15 million paying subscribers.

They run many music channels with no commercials -- and some channels have few listeners. They are money losing machines that have posed no threat to traditional radio -- not even for a minute.

Meanwhile, the NAB is helping to mislead the industry into&hellip

iPod, I Quit

It's hard to fathom that a consumer electronic device that is both so cool and so hot may have finally peaked.

In my work with college students I have discovered one thing if I have learned anything at all -- you can hardly find a student on campus without an MP3 device (usually an iPod).

That is, until now.

Several months ago a class project revealed that most students who were asked to give up their iPods and cell phones for two days could easily sacrifice the iPod, but not so much with the cell phone. The cell phone is essential equipment.

This past week I discovered that half of one of my larger classes,&hellip

Clear Channel Gets EZPass

Five years ago when I moved out west from New Jersey I had to give up my EZPass, an electronic toll collection system based in New Jersey and used extensively throughout the Northeast. We have freeways out here.

I slapped the device on my windshield out of the way under the rear view mirror and I could cruise through toll plazas on the Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, Lincoln Tunnel and the bridges leading into Manhattan and Philadelphia.

It was seamless. Just put your travel on your tab (credit card) and cruise right through to your destination. No stopping to pay the toll.

Kind of reminds me of Clear&hellip

Dr. Kevorkian, Meet Radio and Records

At the Grammy's the other night, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow stepped up on his nationwide soapbox and promised to "fight to pass legislation to once and for all ensure that, just like in every other developed country in the world, all music creators are compensated for their performances when played on traditional radio".

Fortunately, no one heard him.

The Grammy's pulled in the third worst TV audience ratings of all time.

Apparently, Alicia Keys was not listening either when she thanked "every radio guy" in her acceptance speech -- a real time acknowledgment that she couldn't have won without the free&hellip

Radio’s Worst Cut Is The Deepest

Move over, Sheryl Crow -- the first cut is not the deepest. The worst is and it's happening right now.

The other shoe has now dropped as many of the major consolidators have followed their leader -- Clear Channel -- with layoffs, firings and cost-savings caused by bad business and bad strategy.

We're now seeing CBS with program directors overseeing two separate cities. That will really work now, won't it? Inside Radio reports several dozen positions wiped out yesterday. Three PDs in New York were fired: Crys Quimby at WCBS-AM, Tracy Cloherty at "K-Rock" WXRK and Rick Martini of&hellip

Free Music vs. Subscription

Yahoo just turned over its "Music Unlimited" operation to the rental music service Rhapsody.

True, Yahoo is in short pants these days. True, Microsoft knows this which is why they are making an unfriendly move to buy Yahoo.

Rhapsody isn't lighting the world on fire, either. Rhapsody charges $12.99 per month for millions of songs. It promises "Play all the music you want for one low monthly price". Maybe it would do better if Rhapsody were more portable. Maybe not.

There's Slacker's WiFi Net radio player which is mobile. It has a four inch screen that pushes the Internet radio stream to the player because it is&hellip

Mark Mays as Tony Robbins

Clear Channel's stock price is now under $30.

Down to $29.76 as it closed yesterday on a trading session that saw the Dow drop 370 points on continued fears of a recession. You may remember CCU was once a $90 stock way back when.

The recent and infamous John Hogan memo calling for deeper cutbacks ahead of the potential closing of the sale of Clear Channel to investment banks Lee & Bain was like asking a super model to not eat.

Now Mark Mays emails his employees with a truly clueless "win one for the Gipper" essay.

First of all, why is this man writing emails?

HD Alliance: “And I’ve Got A Bridge in Brooklyn to Sell You”

I'll admit it.

The HD Alliance has got my number.

It is the most incredible or should I say incredulous group of intelligent people in the radio industry. The only problem is, they are not giving you any credit for being intelligent.

Thus the recent headlines that 2007 was a "breakthrough year" for HD radio sales.

It's getting to the point that whenever Peter Ferrara says anything, I don't believe it. This is nothing personal about Peter. It's about the tactics of the HD Alliance.

Supposedly iBiquity, the manufacturers of this gift from heaven called HD radio, claims to have sold 330,000 HD receivers&hellip

Redefine Radio — Don’t Reinvent It

Constant denial -- that's what's killing radio.

Last week we heard the same old song again at the Southern California Broadcasters Association gathering. I don't know about you but these guys are starting to scare me.

Radio-Info's Tom Taylor reported that Clear Channel's John Hogan said "performance and capability is not our problem. Our problem is one of perception".


Consolidators like Clear Channel but not limited to Clear Channel either just don't get it or they don't want us to get it.

1. They try to grow a business by cutting back.

2. They embrace&hellip

Clear Channel’s “Hail Mary” Pass

There is so much coverage of the possible closing of Clear Channel's $19 billion privatization sale to Bain Capital and Thomas Lee Partners, but I'm afraid even the best financial publications are distracted from what's really important.

The Super Bowl is this weekend in Phoenix and this is as good a time as any to invoke the imagery of the "Hail Mary" concept.

In football, the "Hail Mary" is a desperation pass like the one Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach threw to his teammate Drew Pearson who was being covered by cornerback Nate Wright in a December, 1975 divisional playoff. Pearson stopped and pushed Wright as the ball&hellip