I grew up in a household, or more specifically with a mother, who is a semi-movie snob. She has been enamored with the great performers like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck and others.
As such, I grew up with a natural love of movies (old and new) and a healthy disdain for the ‘re-make’ and even the sequel. With that background, my brother and I saw the re-make of The Day The Earth Stood Still yesterday and, unfortunately, it lived up to all my expectations of its low quality.
But it is not the movie that made me think of the radio industry and its both financial and creative problems, but the previews. Over 80% of the previews were either for remakes or sequels – Terminator Salvation, Fast & Furious New Model, Star Trek to name a few.
With a relatively light audience and being an industry with its own problems, I found it disheartening that rather than try to attract new content, celebrate more original creations and give the audience a new reason to enjoy the theatre, the fell back on old, tired titles.
In looking at our airplay, the radio industry on the music side is in the same position; relying primarily on a few songs or artists instead of growing the content base more aggressively. The recent news that Talk surpassed Country in listenership to become the top radio format. While I do not have the numbers on Talk, it is not difficult to believe that the lack of quality content is the top culprit.
As you can read in the table, I looked at the top 100-song-playlists over a 7-day period for 5 commercial radio formats as a quick sample and confirmed a disturbing fact.
The top 100 songs, which represent only 1.2% of the songs played, represent 46% of the airplay across those 5 commercial formats, a 37x multiple. The top 20 songs, which represent only 0.2% of the songs played account for nearly 25% of the airplay, a 106x multiple.
Such a stagnant use of the wide variety of music actually available at all times is one problem the radio industry has that can be changed with little effort and would be in line with the movement of digital and mobile services…more variety, more personal input to choice.
Audiences, and advertisers, demand quality and diversity of content, especially now that the sources are so fragmented and varied. Even correcting for the Christmas music flips, commercial radio is just not fulfilling that requirement to the best of its capabilities.
The stations continue to rely primarily, if not solely, on repetition as the method of discovery instead of expanding the methods to integrate mobile and digital sources or even SMS or email communication of their playlists in both push and pull fashion as other forms of informing listeners and providing them with music discovery tools beyond the top 5-10% of songs.
Change is not optional, but essential and Mediaguide is fortunate to be in a posistion to assist with its data and technology.