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Posts Tagged ‘Radio broadcasting’

When Copyrights Trump Commercial Creativity (Spoiler: Always)

copyrightI was listening to radio this morning and heard a spot for a local restaurant trying to be relatable by exemplifying how hard it is for working adults to find time to eat breakfast. They preached the importance of the first meal of the day. And wouldn’t you know it? They have a quick, easy, affordable breakfast sandwich you can pick-up on your way to the office to help solve your problem. Not a bad spot overall, but at one point the announcer says, “before you know it Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho it’s off to work you go!” and then fairly quietly layered underneath was the unmistakable original recording of the seven dwarfs singing the song.

That’s a problem.

  • It’s not an original work created by the advertiser.
  • It doesn’t qualify under “fair use” exceptions.
  • The song isn’t in public domain. The only songs that are public domain in the USA are songs and musical recordings published in 1922 or earlier. This song was released in 1937. (Check out the website here with examples of public domain works http://www.pdinfo.com/)

So, that means either Disney licensed copyright permissions to a local breakfast joint in central coast California or the restaurant and radio station stole it. It probably wasn’t intentionally and in fact, it was a solid creative choice, but the law doesn’t factor in intent, creativity or ignorance.

What should they have done? Here’s some advice from business law firm Brooks/Pierce:

“To secure a license for a musical work, you will need to contact the publisher directly. You can obtain publisher contact information using the repertory databases maintained by ASACP (www.ascap.com), BMI (www.bmi.com), SESAC (www.sesac.com), and/or the Music Publishers’ Association (www.mpa.org). If a sound recording license is also needed (e.g., for dubbing an original recording), you will also need to contact the record company directly. Record company contact information can sometimes be obtained by the music publisher and is often also available on the copy of the recording (e.g., the CD liner notes). Publisher and record company contact information may also be located on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website (www.copyright.gov).”

That’s a lot of time, work and likely money for a :07 sample of a song in a :30 radio ad that you’re charging 50-bucks a spin for on your radio station.

Here’s the kicker. Even if the radio station didn’t produce the spot they can be held liable for copyright infringement. (Production Directors and Traffic Directors listen up!) Penalties can range from $150,000 to $250,000 per infringement and up to 10 years in prison. And in this case, Disney doesn’t shy away from going after little guys, because once you knowingly allow one entity to infringe a precedent is set. Typically a cease & desist will be the first action taken, but I wouldn’t press your luck.

Be careful out there.

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The Free Fall of Talk Radio

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From New York to Los Angeles, in Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, and D.C. at big stations and small there is an alarming story unfolding in talk radio. Talk stations are tumbling in the ratings and no one knows why, though there are many theories.

It’s political fatigue.

It’s too repetitive.

It’s too depressing.

It’s too angry.

It’s too boring.

It’s humorless.

It’s predictable.

It’s not entertaining.

It’s all commercials.

The list of once great stations that have dropped out of the top ten reads like a radio station all-star line-up: KFI, WABC, WLS, WMAL, KABC, KIRO, WBAP. And it’s not a fluke (pardon the pun.) This is real. Arbitron is noticing it too.

“…for the first time since we began keeping our format records, it (news-talk) recorded two consecutive books below a 9 share, finishing at an 8.7 in July. Now summer is historically the lowest time of the year for News/Talk listening, and we will be keeping a close eye on the results as August and September approach, but it’s worth noting that the format’s summer shares have declined about 10% since 2011.”

– Tony Hereau, Arbitron Media Insights Manager

Down 10% in two years as a format in the 48 PPM markets?!

Editor’s note: I’m sure radio ownership groups understand and have lowered revenue projections accordingly.

THEY DON’T LIKE US, LEYKIS. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?Tom Leykis

Tom Leykis, former radio show host now internet trailblazer at NewNormalNetwork.com, believes he was in the epicenter of the downfall of talk radio.

“It was in 1994.”

Leykis was a guest on Episode 13 of the Radio Stuff podcast (listen). He recalled broadcasting from the NAB the year his show was launching into syndication and everyone kept talking about a panel featuring talk radio consultant Ed Shane. As Leykis recalls, this was Shane’s message:

“It’s important, for your talk radio station to be successful, that everyone have the same opinion as Rush.”

Leykis takes it a step further.

“So in other words, the secret to Rush Limbaugh’s success was not his years of experience or his time as a DJ or the fact that he had great timing or was a good comedian, that he made good use of sound, but no, no, no – the reason for his success was that he was a political conservative.”

From there after, every station Leykis approached to syndicate his show would ask what his politics were. It wasn’t always like that, “Previously, they only cared, ‘do I get ratings? Will I help the station make money? Will I make noise?’ Suddenly I was being asked, ‘Are you a conservative?’”

Leykis believes that was the moment talk radio went from being a mass appeal format to being a niche format. And the problems with talk radio today stem directly from a consultant misreading the tea leaves.

Talk radio went from Rush Limbaugh’s bells, whistles, jingles and parody songs and everything to a line up of people reading bill numbers.” He went on, “It’s devoid of humor, entertainment value or mirth. These are not radio personalities.”

He wonders aloud if anyone in the radio business getting the message?

And he cautions up and coming talkers, “Don’t go to a radio station, because you’ll never be allowed to develop your talent. Develop a podcast, develop a streaming live show, develop your own product, and learn how to sell it and become an entrepreneur.”

OKAY, SO NOW WHAT?

Maybe it is political talk’s fault. I happen to believe it’s likely a perfect storm of new media, new listener expectations, new social and political attitudes, and a general fear in radio of taking risks and being wrong – in every department.

Here are a couple of steps I believe are necessary for talk radio to attract new listeners and remain relevant.

1. DEMAND SHOWMANSHIP

Talk radio needs more storytellers and fewer alarmists. Talent need to entertain, emote and put on a show, as much as they provide insight, deliver information and add context. Radio station leaders must support talent and encourage them to be amusing, insightful, emotional, apolitical, curious, experimental, and positive while giving them permission to fail. And fail hard sometimes — without fear of being fired.

2. FIND ANOTHER REVENUE STREAM

Radio stations need to stop abusing the listeners. The quality and quantity of radio’s commercials is appalling. I mean holy smokes gang have you tried to listen to an hour of radio recently? Effective immediately commercials that don’t meet your standards or match your brand should be rejected. Be the first guy in the room to say, “Hold up! That spot sucks. It’s not going on our air.” Be bold.

And – this will be even less popular – reduce spot loads. It’s time. Thanks to DVR, podcasts, Netflix, on-demand audio, and satellite radio spot loads seem to be worse than ever. Until recently people were accustomed to sitting through commercials or flipping back and forth between stations, because it was the penance you had to pay to watch your favorite TV show or listen to a kooky talk show host. Now radio is the last place on earth (with the exception of movie theaters) where consumers are forced to sit there while commercials are crammed down their throat.

No fast forward.

No more patience.

No more listening.

Just look at the growth of online radio, on-demand audio and NPR. So what’s that mean? Radio needs to figure out a dual revenue stream. The future of financing big radio is commercials and__________. You fill in the blank.

Editor’s note: If you say commercials and banner ads, I will scream.

BOLD PREDICTION

Talk radio isn’t going to die, but it is definitely going through a mid-life crisis. The next 18-months the entire format will be redefined, programmers will be less focused on gaming PPM and more focused on listeners, commercials will sadly still suck, and Rush Limbaugh will be replaced by someone else as the face of the format.

Does Internet Radio Value Radio More Than Radio?

As “radio” attempts to “be everywhere” on all platforms, it is curious that internet radio is embracing the local brands and local content to reach the local listeners.

tunein

I saw this bus board while driving around the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle. While non-radio folk may not realize it, this is a TuneIn ad campaign. The ad is selling TuneIn “The world’s radio from Seattle to Sydney” to Seattle residents by promoting the fact that you can listen to Seattle’s heritage news-talker KIRO Radio through TuneIn — presumably instead of on your terrestrial radio. Not of little significance, KIRO Radio fans are likely in their cars listening to the station or experiencing the station’s very cool app, while being told there’s a new? better? different? way to consume it.

It’s a smart play by TuneIn who can actually afford to buy outdoor campaigns unlike most radio stations not owned by Clear Channel these days. Leveraging the exposure of the local station’s logo is very important for TuneIn and very appealing to the station — it’s not unlike giving candy to a baby. Radio stations just need to understand a stomach ache may soon follow.

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Wow.

Radio stations do not underestimate the value of your brand!

In my opinion, this definitely reinforces the power of the local brands in local communities. Services like TuneIn need these station’s dedicated, loyal, local listeners to build credibility, listening occasions, and drive awareness. Instantly, the association with stations like KIRO gives TuneIn a connection to a community and access to the trust and equity earned by the radio station which can be used to leverage the fan base into the digital platform to explore new, more, and different audio experiences. (Where do you supposed the time for all those new listening experiences comes from?)

Digital Platforms do not overestimate your relevance!

On the flipside, Clear Channel’s attempt to push “iHeart RADIO” on its outdoor campaigns in conjunction with local stations seems less impactful.

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This is KJR-FM‘s billboard a couple blocks away from where I saw the TuneIn bus board. Notice the bottom right corner tags iHeart RADIO and assumes people will know what that means. This is the equivalent of a “blink” in radio and is typically used for iconic brands. No offense, but iHeart RADIO doesn’t quite meet that threshold.

I heart

Don’t over-analyze, don’t close your eyes.

Internet radio services are quickly and intentionally blurring the lines between old and new radio and it’s to their advantage to do so.  Radio is sexy. Audio is stale. So, providers are trying to convince listeners that audio, regardless of how they consume it is “radio.” And it appears the radio industry is allowing these companies to leverage their heritage brands to do just that. Bully for them.

The radio landscape is evolving and changing each day. Many experts advise you to “be everywhere.” It’s not bad advice, just keep your eyes wide open, be intentional with your decisions to digitally distribute content, respect your listeners, and value the brand you’ve work so hard to build.

7/12/13 UPDATE: Listen to the discussion about this between Deb Slater and me on the Radio Stuff Podcast

Seven Take Aways from Mike McVay

Mike McVayCumulus Senior Vice President of Programming Mike McVay knows a lot about radio. He’s been in the business since 1969 as a talent, PD, consultant and futurist. In his current role, he heads up programming for over 500 radio stations nationwide.

Deb Slater and I chatted with Mike this week on the Radio Stuff podcast. It was a wide-ranging interview that went well beyond the ten minutes he had promised us. He was gracious, accessible, frank, funny, and insightful.  You should really listen to the whole thing. Really.

Here are my seven big takeaways from Mike McVay.

1. If you are on-air at a Cumulus radio station bring your “A” game each day, don’t phone it in, because he’s listening.

icfsw1sMcVay: “I still dial in on a radio when I travel. I carry a Sony ICF-SW1; a small, 10 channel, digital radio. And the reason I carry it on the road with me is I want to hear the local station and their commercials and the imaging.”

McVay: “Lew Dickey said it best in a recent weekly meeting I had with him. Air talent that are live and local are fewer and fewer, so those air talent who are live and local need to really make every break count. They really need to be in the community, they really need to show why live and local is so valuable. Because where we have live and local talent we do excel. If we’re going to be live and local, the air-talent need to grasp that every time they turn on the microphone it is a rare opportunity and a privilege that they should take advantage of. “

2. If you are an air talent looking for work follow Mike McVay (@mikemcvay) on twitter and get his attention.

McVay: “I find myself actually finding new talent on twitter. One of the reasons why I tweet so much and I’m so involved in social media is because other people at the same level or same position I’m in in our industry don’t. And so I thinking making me accessible is a good thing.”

3. If you are a PD at Cumulus you are being closely watched.

Slater: In the 20-months you’ve been there what impact have you made?

McVay: “…and I’ve been able to help educate and direct our program directors. Having been a consultant for so many years, I’ve become a teacher. If anything I hope I’ve helped to make our PDs better.”

Slater: What keeps you up at night?

McVay: The greatest thing that worries me is individual programmers and individual air talent who are going through the motions, who don’t share the passion that we at the top of the food chain at Cumulus share.

Gifford: What’s your biggest programming challenge?

McVay:  Getting your people to use the tools and resources you give them and then have connectivity to a market. I can show you markets where our program directors take the tools we give them and they excel in the market and stations in the market are highly rated. I can show you other markets where the PDs take the exact same tools and for whatever reasons stations don’t excel. Now in some cases, one could argue the competition is better, but other cases I think I could argue that our PDs don’t embrace the systems the way they should. They don’t use the tools they way they could. As a result, the stations don’t perform as well.”

4. Radio says it wants change, but those who try to change get ridiculed. img_5844-e8f87ffb9a3a8a76a991840d72fb281e36d9cfeb-s6-c30

McVay: “Someone challenged me that putting Huckabee on, putting Geraldo on, hiring Michael Savage are crazy ideas and my response was I’ve been coming to these conferences for ten years. I hear all of you sitting in this audience complain there isn’t change, that we need to do something to get new and younger demos. Well, if nothing else, give Cumulus credit for trying something. Some things we try are going to fail. Some of the things we try are going to work. Everyone should be hoping that what we do works, rather than belittling it, because if it works, in this lemming business everyone will then run off the cliff and do what we’re doing.”

rush-pubshot5. Rush Limbaugh isn’t going away anytime soon.

McVay: “He’s not done. We are continuing to be big fans of Rush. You have to keep in mind that many of the things you read in the trades are taken out of context. And we are fans of Rush Limbaugh and, you know, the demise of Rush Limbaugh is greatly exaggerated. He continues to be one of the highest rated talk talent in America and all of us should want to have the ratings that he has.”

 6. It’s a great time to be in the radio business. Believe it! 

McVay: The opportunities are greater today, because there are so many more outlets. There are 12,000 radio stations, limitless internet radio stations, and opportunities for you to be heard. You may not make the type of money that people in broadcasting made in the past, but the opportunity to be on the air is greater than it’s ever been before.

If someone sits down and believes there is no opportunity for them in radio, then that is a person who is not creative. They are closed minded. If you really want to get the message out, you’re going to find a way to do it.

7. And one final thought…

McVay: People in broadcasting mostly need therapy, because they have a great inferiority complex.

Eight Things Pandora Will Do Now That It Bought A Radio Station

Pandora is buying a real radio station (article here); 102.7 The Hits in South Dakota. They have a theory that this puts them in the same category as iHeartRadio as it relates to affordable music rights fees. It may work. But, it got me thinking, what if Pandora started to act like a radio station?

Eight Things Pandora Will Do Now That It Bought The Radio Station 102.7 The Hits

8. Complain about Arbitron. Not once has Pandora.com shown up in the PPM data, the sampling must be off.

7. Update the logo. Keep it familiar, but leverage the Pandora name, but make it more “radio-y.” (notice no mention of the website)

pandora logo

6. Buy more banner roll. One sad logo isn’t going to cut it anymore.

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5. New Slogan:

OLD “Today’s Best Hits Without The Rap” (seriously, that’s the slogan. I didn’t realize my Mom was writing radio slogans. She’s always going on about “the rap” music.)

NEW: “If you like Nickelback….we are playing songs that are similar to them”

4. New 10×10 tent for the grocery store remotes. No radio station is complete without one.

10'-x-10'--POP-UP-TENT-X102_3

3. Understand Added Value. Give clients spots on Pandora.com at no charge in exchange for paying for terrestrial radio buys. This works, trust us Pandora, we know radio.

2.  Update the Bieber cutout. He’s much cooler these days.

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1. Use streaming audio for promotion! Make sure the web stream pushes terrestrial listening, otherwise it doesn’t count!

Okay, I’m cheeky and sarcastic. I know. But, it does make you stop think about why radio does some of the things it does. Evolution involves change and change is uncomfortable. To adapt and survive, radio is going to have to get pretty uncomfortable, pretty quickly.

Creating a “WOW! Factor” with Your Next Radio Event

Radio can be cool, fun, exciting, breath-taking, and memorable. Over the weekend BBC Radio 1 showed me something that blew me away, “Radio 1’s BIG WEEKEND!” Watch this and remember this is radio.

I wish it wasn’t a surprise that radio can pull off an event like this. KROQ does it  , WIP does it , others do it to, but it’s far more the exception than the rule.

Catherine & Jason Marriage Madness

Mike & Mike’s Marriage Madness winners Jason & Catherine. Photo by John Atashian.

As a radio manager, I’ve had a mix of hit and misses when it comes to events. I’m probably most remembered for Mike & Mike’s Marriage Madness at ESPN Radio. It was the NCAA Tournament meets “The Today Show Throws a Wedding.” It culminated in the ultimate sports fan’s wedding on the campus of ESPN, broadcast live on radio and TV during Mike & Mike in the Morning. It was big in 2006. Since then most of the internet has forgotten, except for some snarky barbs from the folks at Deadspin.  I’ve done others since like this and this.

Today, Inside Radio featured several big time summer radio events, festivals, and concerts.

When done properly, a radio station event is a bunch of hard work and logistics that brings together the radio station, the listeners, partners, and advertisers to help create a buzz around the station (internally and externally), reinforce the brand, build fan loyalty, raise incremental sponsorship dollars, and gives your radio station a story to tell.

Here are five steps you can take to create a radio event with a “WOW! Factor”…

1. Have a vision, a goal, a budget, and define success up front. Start with the biggest, best idea you have and revise the idea over and over again. Be realistic about costs and expectations. Keep the concept simple, but make the event memorable and remarkable. Remember to make it about the listener, not the radio station. Why are people going to show up, what’s the draw? And expect greatness. We can’t be great if we only expect to be good enough.

2. Create a pitch and sell it to everybody in the radio station. You, or someone on the staff who is passionate about the event, needs to OWN the event, but everyone needs to pitch in. You can’t do this alone. Delegate, delegate, delegate.

3. Details make all the difference. If you’re aren’t a detail person, get someone who is. The color of napkins, or the shape of a gobo, or the size of the ticket matters.

4. Be inspired. Don’t just copy another radio station’s event, however take notes, evolve a concept, personalize and customize what you see to make it reflect your radio station. Own the event, don’t lease it from another radio station in a neighboring town.

5. Make sure it tells a story to the listeners. What are you going to tell your listeners and what are they going to tell their friends? Tell them what you are going to do for them, tell them what you are doing for them, and then tell them what you did for them.

Oprah, Rush and Howard Stern Have This. Do You?

I watched a TED Video this week on the origins of pleasure.  Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that our beliefs about the history of an object changes how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is. Which explains, in part, why some “heritage” radio stations and hosts across the country continue to get great ratings, despite the poor programming. People love (take great pleasure in) the idea of listening to the station that their Mom or Dad or grandparents  listened to. It’s a connection to a simpler time, your childhood, and a shared experience with your parents/grandparents.

It also makes me believe that it’s important that each personality and radio station needs to have a story. Seth Godin coincidentally touched on this same idea this week with his blog post “Just a myth.” Godin concludes his blog by encouraging brands (which could be a personality, a show or a station) to create their own mythology (or story.)

GODIN:

So, if I were trying to invent a mythic brand, I’d want to be sure that there was a story, not just a product or a pile of facts. That story would promise (and deliver) an heroic outcome. And there needs to be growth and mystery as well, so the user can fill in her own blanks. Endorsement by a respected ruler or priest helps as well.

The key word, I think, is spiritual. Mythological brands make a spiritual connection with the user, delivering something that we can’t find on our own… or, at the very least, giving us a slate we can use to write our own spirituality on.

People use a Dell. They are an Apple.

The most successful in broadcasting have these mythologies or stories that help define their brand; Oprah, Rush, and Howard Stern all have overcome great adversity to find success (triumph over tragedy.)

So, it begs the question. What’s your story? Start at the beginning and remember how your personality, show or station went from being a germ of idea to transforming into what it is today. What did you overcome? How are you spiritually serving your fans? If you’re a super hero – what’s are your special powers?

Taking the time to write your story / myth is an investment into being a something people listen to and being something people live for, experience and claim as their own.