NAB’s Phone-y FM Chip Diversion

Before this piece is over I will try to offer you some rational and strategic conclusions about the current National Association of Broadcasters plan to needlessly expose radio stations to $1 billion in added music royalties annually to settle with the RIAA.

I’m going to name names.

Delve into possible motivations for you to consider and then offer a prognosis for what is likely to happen.

First, an update.

Any legislative action on this issue is dead while Congress returns home to campaign for reelection.

What’s ironic is that what the radio industry is likely to observe after election day is a Congress more sympathetic to the interests of the radio industry. Of course you know that, right now, Congress is about split evenly between defending the interests of local radio and standing up for the music industry.

Here’s what is likely to unfold:

The Next Generation of Listeners

I recently heard former Governor Howard Dean analyze the present political atmosphere as the establishment’s last stand.

Politics is politics and I’m going to try to put that aside in looking at something he went on to say that rings true if applied to the media business.

Dean, a Democrat and former presidential candidate, was criticizing his arch rivals the Republicans and the Tea Party movement. Again, not looking to get involved in all that for this purpose, he went on to say that the next generation would reject any attempts to restrict gay rights or attempts to impede immigration.

These are certainly two super charged issues and Dean’s comments reminded me of working with college students at USC.

We often look at the world through our own eyes and experiences. Radio people think there will always be 24/7 radio and record labels apparently think they can get the same high profits for selling music that they once earned for selling vinyl or CDs.

The generation that is now coming of age – Generation Y – is reshaping everything. It is strong in numbers at about 70 million and the last Gen Y’er has already been born but hasn’t made it to college yet.

If you’re looking for a political fight, you’re not going to get it here. My mother, a Democratic ward worker in her day, always reminded us that you’re not likely to talk anyone out of their political beliefs.

But there are some things worth considering about the next generation as it pertains to media.

They, indeed, have more open attitudes about immigration because they have likely embraced immigrants who are their friends in person and on Facebook. As a professor I can tell you that college students care very little about racial divides that talk radio obsesses over. They see the world in one color of humanity – a characteristic of which we parents should be very proud.
Sexual preferences are personal decisions that are openly supported in large part by this generation. Of course, there are exceptions. There is more lesbianism on campuses, more gay relationships. Gen Y is just fine with this. Listen to their music which is the soundtrack of their lives and “I Kissed a Girl” is more than a song, it is a marker of change.

The New Listenerǃ

In psychology there is a theory called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation identified self-actualization, esteem, love and belonging, safety needs, physiological needs.

As today’s consumer morphs and technology spurs alterations in their behavior, it has occurred to me that the media needs of humans has not only changed but their needs and priorities are changing – important for content creators and marketers who want to follow them to the digital Promised Land.

It’s fair to say in the past -- say 1960’s and 1970’s – a consumer's media need primarily included radio and television. To have a radio to be connected to their rock and roll music and news and information. And then a TV to enjoy arts and entertainment as it developed in color.

Even in the 1960’s reading a newspaper was optional compared to, say, the 1940’s when consumers bought newspapers on the street corner to read “Extra” editions to learn about the latest war news. It’s debatable whether radio or TV would be first on the 1960/1970 hierarchy of needs list but suffice it to say they were interchangeable.

I thought you’d enjoy my view of today’s consumer’s hierarchy of needs in light of the digital revolution, new media, the Internet, filesharing, social networking and the like. Keep in mind I am observing the next generation because at 70 million strong and coming of age this is a bellwether group.

So here are Del Colliano’s Hierarchy of Media Needs as of this moment:

Radio’s Believe It Or Not

I love Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

You do, too, from what you tell me because I have adapted the Ripley format to the sideshow currently going on in the business you and I love so much – radio.

On the real Ripley website you can find video of a couple being married by a robot.

A three year old Chinese girl who drinks liquor and smokes after surviving a car accident and a coma.

And a violinist who actually plays the instrument during brain surgery.

But I’ve got all that beat this time with what radio consolidators are up to – real life stories that are hard to believe but true.

In other words, Radio’s Believe It or Not.

• A Station That Requires Recycling Trash Over Programming

What Radio Should Be Doing on the iPad

(From left to right with my niece Jaime, daughter Daria, wife Cheryl)

Okay, we’ve talked about the future of the iPad for years now. That’s right, I told you, my readers, it was on the way over a year before it was introduced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Now on to what radio, the record business, publishing and TV should be strategizing.

First, this quote from The Economist that I think sets the stage:

“THE advertisement for Newsday’s iPad application starts blithely enough. A man in a shirt and tie sits in the kitchen, reading the New York newspaper on his tablet computer. He turns the device on its side and watches the live feed from a traffic camera. Then a fly lands on the table. The man quickly raises the iPad and smashes it down, shattering the glass. The ad implies that the iPad is superior to old-fashioned print in all sorts of ways, just not every way. It is a joke—but also a good summary of how newspaper and magazine outfits have come to feel about Apple’s product in the eight months since it was unveiled”.

It hasn’t even been a year since Apple’s iPad has been in the hands of consumers with so many options and already the iPad promises to be the content delivery system of the future with all its advantages and a few disadvantages. Some analysts estimate that over 20 million iPads will be sold in 2011 alone.

You’ll see the expected ego fight between media titans and Steve Jobs. I’m betting Jobs will out maneuver them. He just knows what works with this new generation -- not that his ego is any smaller.

After FM, Where Does Radio Go?

You’ve no doubt been reading about the rush that has been going on of late as owners are porting their AM radio stations over to FM.

Bonneville was one of the early pioneers of moving AM brands to FM because, frankly, listeners have migrated over to FM. In fact, they migrated a long time ago.

It is remarkable but one thing has not changed – listeners will listen to AM radio if they want to hear what the station is broadcasting. These available AM listeners do tend to be older and the move to FM makes sense if a brand is worth protecting.

Stop right there.

Fast forward another five or ten years and ask yourself where will great FM radio brands be connecting with audiences then – online, on cell phones, iPads or still on the FM band?

While moving valuable listening brands from AM to FM appears to be a no-brainer, one has to wonder why it took 20 years for this migration.

There are several interesting points:

Consumers Now Spend 50% of Their Day With Media

In the 1950’s and 1960’s radio and television broadcasters and publishers could never imagine a public whose appetite for what they do would be so great that it consumed half of their waking hours.

Today we have evidence that the Internet, cell phones, Apple and social networking have created addicts out of people of all ages.

In fact, all of this growth in media consumption has happened within the last two years and far exceeds media demand for three decades prior.

There are hard cold facts to back it up.

A new Ipsos OTX study of 7,000 online consumers spanning a wide age range of between 13 and 74 confirms that among those surveyed people are now spending half of all their waking hours with media and have increased their media consumption by a whopping hour a day over the past two years.

To put that in perspective, they spend more time consuming media than working or sleeping.

The Future of Rock and Roll

Great, great piece in The Sunday New York Times Magazine a few weeks back by Rob Walker writing in the “Consumed” column where he asked the question, “Can the value of music reside in a lamp (or stickers or a sculpture)?"

Walker’s piece to me begs the question should artists get rich by selling stuff just because music sells stuff?

The author asserts that the future of rock and roll is merch.

If he is correct, the record labels are in big trouble because as Pogo says, “I have seen the enemy and it is us”.

The labels are adequate at best with merch and arguably leaving a lot of money on the table because they don't understand the new consumer and their devices.

Walker makes his case by pointing out:

“The Ramones sold more T-shirts than albums (and you can buy a T-shirt that says so). And box sets for superfans have become increasingly elaborate and pricey artlike objects. But merchandise is gaining momentum, and it’s not hard to imagine a time when a fan buys a sculpture, home décor item or other tangible good and gets the music as a kind of free soundtrack accompaniment”.

Cumulus Sues Ex-GM for $1 Million

Here’s an inside story you won’t find in the happy talk press.

The Dickey family is channeling its mean genes in what appears to me to be a retaliatory strike against a manager who had the audacity to – well, quit and get a better job with Cox.

Kristin Okesson left the Dickey Dynasty as manager of the Danbury, CT and Westchester, NY clusters. Let’s do what they do before you see the next episode of an HBO original series – recap.

Previously on Entourage (Lew, John, Gary Pizatti) …

The Dickeys took Okesson to U.S. District Court in Bridgeport and in a court opinion handed down on April 22 of this year, the judge interpreted the employment contract at issue largely in Okesson’s favor. She wasn’t ordered to stay away from previous Cumulus customers in Danbury.

The judge did prohibit Okesson from helping a fellow employee to spring from his imprisonment and was told not to solicit Cumulus employees directly. She also had to return some items in dispute that were alleged to be confidential.

And that was it.

Until now.

Music Without Radio and Radio Without Music

In the past week, there have been two examples of what happens when an artist decides to market without radio airplay while another tries to get airplay she believes she deserves based on Billboard progress.

Both are fascinating and revealing and I thought you would enjoy hearing about them.

The Bed Intruder Song.

The story of a crime that happened in "singer" Antoine Dodson’s family.

Dodson did an interview with a Huntsville, AL TV station after an intruder broke into his family’s house and attempted to rape his sister.

The video interview became popular because of Dodson’s dramatic delivery style in which he talked to the audience as well as the person who attempted the rape. Dodson used colorful language and raised the ire of TV viewers who complained to the station. The station defended Dodson and said that censoring him would be worse than his graphic style.

The video went viral in the form of the Bed Intruder Song some have called the one awesome use of Auto-Tune ever. Auto-Tune is software that can make speech sound like singing. The Gregory Brothers turned an angry rant into a pop song that has sold about 100,000 copies on iTunes and is 94 with a bullet on Billboard for the week of September 18.

The YouTube video has been seen over 20 million times before some genius took it off -- I am scratching my head here.

All of this with little to no radio airplay. The subject matter is a deterrent to over-the-air radio but still – this is an example of a song taking off without a record label, promotion teams and radio station airplay. It’s all viral.

Then, there’s the dilemma of singer Arika Kane.

4 Bold Media Predictions

Predictions are just teasing unless they turn out to come true.

The Clear Channel demise

Howard Stern, Digital Pioneer

Adam Carolla may be able to attract 400,000 podcast downloads and not make money, but Howard Stern can.

Sirius Satellite Radio listeners who have to lumber through the negotiating period running up to every Stern contract expiration are used to the game.

Talk that Stern will not be back.

That he’ll return to terrestrial radio (not likely).

Just do three days a week at Sirius for the same money and on and on.

Howard Stern is one figure who could make it in digital app-dom if he wanted to do it.

But stop!

I have not lost my mind. I’m betting he will be back with Sirius and a deal will be cut and all will be fine. However…

What makes Howard Stern an ideal candidate to marshal his audience and direct them to the digital space is his ability to create unique, compelling and addictive programming unlike other talkers of his ilk.

Stern is too smart to do a radio show online. At least I hope he is.

Stern understands that the best way for him to make the switch is to offer his bits in separate units that can be accessed as needed or wanted on mobile devices. He was born to be on iPads and there will be over 20 million more of them sold by the end of 2011.

Wise enough to smell money from event marketing, merchandising and other non-traditional ways.

Don’t rule out subscriptions. As you know I’m betting that pay is an alternative to free going forward for compelling content. Stern could get paid subscribers for a reasonable rate. If the NFL can get over $400 for its online football package – and it does – Stern can get a dollar or two a month from his loyal fans.

Self-promotion? Who is better?

RIAA to Radio: $100 million now, $2 billion in 10 Years

Mitch Bainwol, the Chairman and CEO of the RIAA, is out of touch with the NAB.

NAB CEO and former senator Gordon Smith is assuring the radio industry that if station owners settle their suit with the music industry now instead of fighting to keep radio free of additional royalty taxes, that the radio industry will only have to pay $100 million

New Stupid (and Smart) Radio Tricks

There are so many smart radio people in this business who know what they are doing and who even help their misguided employers do the best they can.


Where Is Appleǃ

Steve Jobs made a lot of product introductions this week.

He relaunched Apple TV. Refreshed the Nano line. Launched Ping for iTunes, a social network all about music. He

Apple Creates 160 Million Matty Singers

Apple CEO Steve Jobs did it again yesterday when he announced more product and service upgrades for his products.

Radio people are no doubt celebrating the fact that the new Nano will still have an FM chip in them although Touches and Shuffles will continue to have no FM. It may be a moral victory but the Nano/FM has not really increased radio listening.

But focus for a moment on the brilliant move Jobs has made in the area of social networking for music.

Now there is Ping for iTunes.

From day one there are 160 million card-carrying iTunes users available to share music preferences and passions.


How Italian Radio Fights Royalty Taxes

The other day when I was writing about the NAB plan to surrender to the music industry over a radio tax, one of my readers wrote to tell me about what is going on in Italy in a similar situation.

I thought you might be interested.

It might also serve as an example of how the U.S. radio industry can stand up to the RIAA that has suddenly crawled into bed with your very own NAB.

Mark my words, a handful of