My blog is of anything that pops into this brain of mine as well as what pops into other bloggers brains! If I read something I find interesting, I'll add it to mine and give credit, where credit is due!
Another insight from Eric Rhoads of RADIO INK magazine.
Why radio shouldn't remain cocky
A message from Radio Ink Publisher Eric Rhoads
The opening bell clanged as executives Tim Westergren and Joe Kennedy and investors stood high atop the stock market floor for the IPO launch of Pandora.
It's an exciting day. As one who was an early player in the Internet radio space (RadioCentral Networks), I exited the Internet radio game about the time Pandora was starting, 11 years ago. It's fun to see an Internet radio startup launch an IPO.
Though Pandora's stock (NYSE ticker symbol: P) debuted strong at a 40 percent increase (at this writing), the reporters at CNBC were pressing for answers: "How is Pandora going to make money?" CEO Joe Kennedy repeatedly responded that Pandora is building a long-term business and focusing on the listener experience. The reporters would not let up, asking the same question 20 different ways, trying to get an answer. Kennedy continued to talk about how Pandora has 3 percent of all radio listening and that its intent is to grow because radio listening is strong, making up 80 percent of all music listening. But the reporters kept asking Kennedy and other executives to show them the money. Not once did anyone say Pandora plans to make money. It was like a retro repeat of the dot-com boom days, when no one cared about making a profit.
As of today, Pandora investors have put $91 million into the company, and no profit has been made, even with a claimed 90 million registered users. Unlike the traditional radio model, which has 40-50 percent margins and is not penalized in royalties for every listener it adds, Pandora has to pay bandwidth fees for every minute of streaming and artist royalties for every listener to every song it plays. Pandora must find a way to make money without growing its listening base, which means more paid subscribers, like Sirius XM, or more ads. Of course, the relative lack of ads is a big consumer attraction to Pandora.
So where is the secret sauce? Why are serious investors putting big money into Pandora? Because they believe in the strength of the radio business and they believe the core premise of pushing radio programming via transmitters is flawed for the future. They are betting on consumers and advertisers falling out of love with terrestrial radio. They are betting that radio will cling to the world it has always known and won't make the digital shift required to please advertisers and consumers, and that, like newspapers, radio won't be able to survive without cannibalizing itself. These investors are expecting that radio, like so many other non-digital businesses, will experience a sea change in its business model once connectivity -- and Pandora -- become ubiquitous in homes, mobile devices, and cars. They expect terrestrial radio to go the way of travel agencies and film for cameras.
I once attended a function with a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists where an investor in Facebook was asked about revenues. He responded, "We'll worry about that later. Our primary goal is to build a strong and loyal base of users." Though I wanted to snicker, I also knew there was some sense in what he was saying. After all, most of the radio industry snickered when XM and Sirius emerged. I cautioned radio to not be overconfident or flip about satellite radio while we were saying people wouldn't pay for the service, nor would satellite make any money on advertising. Yet Mel Karmazin has made the company profitable and had top-line revenues of $2.8 billion in 2010, just ahead of Clear Channel.
Though I recently made the point that Pandora is not radio, looking primarily at the differences terrestrial radio should be focused on since Pandora can do a better job at commercial-free music, I don't think our industry should write it off as a fad or a fluke. Pandora is about to ramp up, is opening local sales offices in your market (just like Google, Yahoo, Groupon, and LivingSocial have), and plans to capitalize on its popularity to bring advertisers on board. Though we can defend our position with statistics, we must not forget that all buying decisions have an element of emotion, especially at the local level.
A year ago my eyes were opened at a local community street fair when three bright green Groupon vans pulled up and about 20 college kids in Groupon shirts started handing out prizes. It was an eye-opener that an Internet company was penetrating locally and doing radio-like street promotions. We also must not forget that Pandora can make money on things other than audio commercials, like player ads and direct marketing to its user base. Why not compete with Groupon? What if Pandora starts doing radio-like promotions in local markets like Groupon is doing?
Though it's tempting to grunt about how radio is strong and will always be strong and how Pandora will be like so many other fad products that challenged radio, I'm also a realist. Pandora is funded by some of the smartest investors in Silicon Valley. These investors are used to hearing people laugh and ask how they plan to make money, yet they usually figure it out.
I may have been 10 years too early into the online radio business, but I still believe that radio must not ignore the challenge that online radio may someday become a real competitor. Jerry Lee may be right that he cannot monetize streaming radio today, and it may not be reasonable for terrestrial radio to expect to make money on streaming. But that's assuming nothing changes. Like all other industries impacted by the digital world, we may someday see a shift.
At the root of all of this is the fact that radio is strong and everyone wants to take a piece of our revenues. When everyone is targeting you, it's easy to get cocky and say, "They all want to be radio, but they'll never figure out how to steal it from us." Yet my belief is that when smart people are after you, there is a chance they will find your vulnerabilities and find a way to take away your golden goose.
A little paranoia is healthy. Being proactive is smart business, just like it's smart not to ignore a new competitor entering the market. Radio's new competitors are hoping you'll ignore them and remain confident that radio can't be touched. That's all the more reason radio needs to stick to its knitting and make sure we as an industry continue to serve our listeners with what they want. It's why we must continue to be entertaining, engaging, and locally involved. Those key factors built our loyal audiences, and it will be those factors that keep them loyal. But we also must continue to innovate and play hard so we can compete in a digital world. Being cocky and not paying attention is how we could allow others to take away our dominance. Others, like Pandora, are counting on it.
Another great blog from a radio pioneer and watcher of the culture of broadcasting.
by Eric Rhoads
Spreading Radio Fires
What's Looming For Radio
As I sit behind my desk, I can smell and see the distant smoke of nearby wildfires. The fires are only about 10 miles away, yet I sit here smugly and safely, with a sense of confidence that someone will get those fires under control and they won't spread to my neighborhood. Instinctively, I know the fires could spread here in a matter of hours, but part of me is in denial: "It won't happen to me. It can't happen here."
Sadly, those fires have destroyed the homes of many people who didn't think it could happen to them. No, they couldn't have stopped the fires, but they could have been better prepared for the moment when they were given 10 minutes to grab whatever they could carry.
My complacency over the nearby fires makes me think about a fire spreading across the radio landscape, destroying our "normal" way of life. As we hear of spreading fires elsewhere, we hope things will remain stable and not affect us. It's human nature: Most of us are in denial about what we know will change our lives and the way we do business. So we remain unprepared even as we think, "I'll deal with it when I'm forced to deal with it."
We know instinctively that being prepared is the best thing, but life, business, time, and budget pressures get in the way.
The flames that are spreading across the media landscape are those of digital media. The statistics don't lie.
16.2% of all LOCAL ad dollars have shifted away from legacy media and are now online. That's expected to jump to 24% by 2015.
43.5% of every ad dollar spent online goes to Google.
In 2011, retail e-commerce will grow 13.7%, to reach $188 billion. More local retail is disappearing.
71% of Forbes 500 companies consider Facebook and Twitter CRITICAL to their media mix.
85% of companies consider Facebook to be a successful tool.
Facebook has now surpassed Google (66%) as the most widely used marketing method among local merchants.
Sources: Forbes, Wall St. Journal, American Business Journals, Ad Week, Ad Age
Begging Radio To Pay Attention
In 1999, I begged the radio industry to pay attention to trends that I believed would impact business. While most companies ignored my call for action, a few invested without evidence, based entirely on faith. Those companies today lead the Internet revolution in radio, and the others have never caught up.
It Won't Happen To MeThe digital revolution is upon us. Today most of my friends running radio stations think digital is something that will happen to someone else, think that there isn't enough money in it to invest the time, feel the returns are low, and believe digital is overly hyped. Most have the attitude that they will learn it they have to, and that they can always catch up.
But when the CEO of WPP Group, the largest agency in the world, says that virtually all advertisers are demanding digital options from traditional media and those who don't offer them will be left in the dust, you need to listen. Just because it hasn't hit your station yet does not mean it's not going happening.
Will these same women and men awaken one day with no cash flow because demand has shifted, and clients now require deep digital solutions before they'll buy radio? Will there be time to learn, get up to speed, and train your people? The wildfire of digital media demands from LOCAL and national business is about to engulf all media, and those who have not prepared themselves will find themselves badly burned.
A Well Kept SecretIn my consulting practice, I have seen under the tent at many companies that are quietly developing digital alternatives, which they package with radio campaigns. They're getting business others don't even know they're missing. I'm seeing a significant growth in revenues (approaching 20%) coming from digital strategies.
Meanwhile, other companies pretend digital doesn't exist and that radio as a standalone will always be strong enough. Which companies would you bet on? Will they hire you if you're not tuned in, with a deep understanding of digital media paired with radio?
This Is PersonalThe world is filled with uncertainty. Who would have predicted this year's radio acquisitions? Who can predict who will own your company next year, or what your company will be seeking once they realize how much they missed when the digital world caught fire? Are you confident? Do you have a deep understanding of digital? Are you willing to invest in yourself so you can remain employable when the flames hit at your station, or at your next employer?
The Two-Day TuneupYou can fly from anywhere in the United States on Wednesday, May 18, and be back in your office by Friday, May 20, having spent two days in what most consider the most informative, most cutting-edge, most intelligent, and most radical conference in radio. Convergence 11 is filled with visionary thinking and practical applications, and it's the most important step in being prepared for the digital fire that is sweeping over radio as we speak.
You'll learn what radio is doing successfully -- what works, what fails, and why. We will stretch your brain, make you squirm in your chair, and probably make you angry. Then suddenly, it will all come together at the end of day two, and you'll walk away with a deep understanding of concepts you probably didn't know existed. Our speakers are outsiders, not radio insiders. We've all heard the "insider stuff" for years. Our goal is to bring an exterior perspective.
Every attendee at every sold-out Convergence conference gives us high marks. We offer a money-back guarantee, and only once since 1999 have we had to refund a ticket (and that person didn't request a full refund). If this conference doesn't open your eyes and change you deeply, you have our money back guarantee.
With spring here and summer/fall budgets upon you, the call for digital will be loud. Some stations won't be ready for 2012. Will you?
PS: Our hotel discount rates at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara expire on April 25, which means that if you wait, you'll have to pay a whole lot more for the host hotel. Plus, there is still time to grab great airline rates into San Jose, and our advance registration rate expires on April 29. Now is the time to save.
PS2: Lots of people have been asking if we have arranged for employee discount prices in the Microsoft Store at the Microsoft Campus. We have. As a registered attendee, you can buy software and other MS goodies, like Xbox and accessories, at the employee discount.
Dig Music label spawns retail vinyl store Medium Rare Records and Collectibles
by Brandon Darnell - Sacramento Press
Marty DeAnda started a vinyl record store by accident with a little help from Louis Armstrong.
Medium Rare Records is in the offices of the Dig Music label, which DeAnda co-founded. The label represents local artists such as Jackie Greene, Chris Webster and Sal Valentino.
The business is located in The Urban Hive at 1931 H St. and was pretty typical of a recording label office, with couches and music-themed décor, before becoming a retail store.
The office, visible from the sidewalk, featured a mannequin of Louis Armstrong in the window, staring out at 20th Street, and passers-by routinely came in to ask about it.
“I’d have 30 people coming by each day,” DeAnda said. “I figured I might as well sell them something, so I brought some records from home. All of a sudden we had a store.”
The store officially opened in late November, but DeAnda said he has been bringing records in for the past year.
“We sell only quality vinyl records and collectibles,” DeAnda said, adding that he caters to buyers who are serious about music, but not looking to drop hundreds of dollars on an album.
“That’s how I came up with the Medium Rare name,” he said. “It’s about those people in the middle – those people who want a vinyl record of The Beach Boys or Jimi Hendrix but aren’t looking for something extra rare.”
DeAnda grades the condition of each record in his store, which he writes on a label and sticks on a plastic sleeve. Customers are asked not to remove the records so as to prevent damaging them.
“If they want to buy it, and they come to the counter, I’ll take it out for them to look at, but I just don’t want 30 people taking it out and handling it and taking away the quality,” DeAnda said.
The only CDs in the store are those put out by artists on the Dig Music label.
DeAnda said there has been something of a resurgence of interest in vinyl records despite the apparent dominance of digital music.
“The sound is just warmer on vinyl,” DeAnda said. “The new generation seems to have rediscovered it. In an era where you can sit under the covers in your Snuggie and listen to an entire album for free and then download the single you like, people miss the ceremony of buying music.”
Despite the recession, other music stores have opened in Sacramento in the past year as well, including Dimple Records, Phono Select Records and ZuhG Life.
DeAnda – a sixth-generation Sacramentan – said he knows the other local music store owners, and he added that they focus on different markets and don’t really compete against one another.
“Everybody’s got a different group of people they appeal to,” DeAnda said. “We’re where the 30-year-olds to the 70-year-olds come for good used vinyl.”
Nich Lujan, co-owner of Phono Select Records, agreed. He stopped by Medium Rare Records and Collectibles Tuesday afternoon to pick up some printing he’d had done.
“We’re absolutely not competitors,” he said. “We help each other out.”
Lujan said more record stores opening in the area is a good thing for the local industry, since many collectors will make a trip to multiple stores in search of the records they seek.
Brent Zane stopped by the store for the first time Tuesday afternoon to sell some records he’s picked up over the years as a musician.
“Right off the bat, it looks good,” he said. “There’s not a bunch of garbage – it looks like a quality used records store.”
Urban Hive owner Brandon Weber said having the store is a boon to his business.
“It’s great to have them,” he said. “It’s easy to walk in and find something good. You don’t have to dig for it. They do the digging for you.”
Kari Shipman works out of The Urban Hive, and she said DeAnda is “the perfect person” to operate the store because of his knowledge of music.
“He has a deep appreciation for the music,” she said, adding that she has shopped at his store to pick up music for her brother.
Medium Rare Records and Collectibles is open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturdays, or by appointment. Visit the store online by clicking HERE!
My guess is that there was a specific event, such as an electro-magnetic pulse (at a certain frequency) that took out these birds and fish.
This could be caused by an event such as a coming earthquake.
"...the birds had suffered internal trauma. That could have happened if a single flock had suddenly got caught in a violent and unusual storm. Or, it has been speculated, a local fireworks display could have startled the birds so badly that they were unable to prevent themselves from flying into trees, pylons and houses.
Bird experts stressed no one should be worried. "Mass bird die-offs can be caused by starvation, storms, disease, pesticide, collision with man-made structures or human disturbance ... Initial findings indicate that these are isolated incidents that were probably caused by disturbance and disorientation," Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation at the Audubon Society, said."
Of course, there are the folks who believe it's a sign from God, that He's had enough and he's coming down to kick everyone's ass.