This afternoon, Mersoft Media CEO, Ron Sloop and I (Gabe Barnes), sat down and were bouncing ideas back and forth on app ideas and design. The discussion eventually shifted into what we think the future holds for the mobile app business in the radio industry. In doing so, we came to a bit of what could be a scary future for local radio stations.
Before I tell you what we see happening, let me first say this. I have always grown up listening to the radio, but only now, once I have jumped into the industry of tech consulting and app development for radio and media companies did I really begin to appreciate what radio means, and does for our society. But with my research into the trends and changes of radio, I see businesses spring up that are attempting to eliminate traditional, terrestrial radio listening.
Now back to my original point!
Meet Pandora, iHeartRadio, Tunein, as well as the other internet-only streaming providers. Little do people know, the leaders or CEOs of these companies have their experience in technology… not radio! Their interests are enhancing their technology and not the radio stations brand.
These groups have tech geniuses at the helm, who are thinking many years ahead of radio stations in terms of the digital space, and their vision isn’t bright for the local station. Everyone is pitching that you have to get mobile – and you do! But there are ways to go about it, as well as a strategy!
Tunein and Pandora are gaining millions of listeners, and those listeners are obviously in local markets. These Internet-streaming conglomerates are now focusing on pursuing local advertising! Uh oh local radio station, you know what that means? Competition. See this article: Pandora takes aim at local radio advertisers
Stations are getting mobile, giving away their users, and will then have to inevitably compete for advertising sales with the Pandoras and TuneIns of the world for the very eyes and ears that they innocently handed over. Besides, surveys show that people want their own individual stations’ branded app on their phone.
So what will it take for stations to realize that they need to keep their individual branding, and the local presence?
F.U.D – Fear. Uncertainty. Death
I am not trying to scare anyone here, but there will come a time very soon where the big internet-streaming giants will be in your backyard pitching to your very own advertisers for the opportunity to reach your listeners and mobile users! And let me warn you… big companies have big bucks that allow them a ton of flexibility.
So do your homework and research, and think long term. Don’t sell your soul (brand) for short term gain, when the long term consequences spell death! Keep your brand and your P1 followers close. Pandora and the Tuneins aren’t on radio’s side. They consider terrestrial radio to be the enemy. And so goes the adage “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”…why else would they so politely invite you to jump on board with them?