With the recent news of the Apple Computer company announcing their new iTunes Radio® and the on-going success of Internet players like iHeartRadio® and Pandora® many people are talking about the difference between “real” radio and Internet radio.
Thousands of radio stations worldwide stream their content online. There are hundreds of Internet-only radio stations and we have music services which attempt to create playlists based on one or two favorite artists; and sometimes it works.
Music research is becoming more sophisticated with multiple inputs from how many times a song was watched on YouTube® to what a listener actually does when a song comes on the radio – Mscore® by Media Monitors®.
There are those who claim to have created algorithms that can calculate what you like and then create a playlist for you. With so few data points to work with, a radio programmer can understand why several different channels based on one artist inputted would beget such similar music flows. And if the listener wants to spend time hitting the thumbs up or thumbs down button, they could shape that channel to closer to their viewpoint. But who has time to do the “work.”
The two forces are the listening medium and source. If I am listening to Z100 on my phone – via iHeartRadio – plugged into my auxiliary input in the car, I am replicating a real radio experience. If I am listening to a playlist that Google® Music is dishing out, I am consuming a playlist, not a station.
The reason I want to listen to my hometown station, is just that; it’s in my hometown. Localism is still a cogent reason why people tune into to “real” radio. The reason people listen to Internet radio might be everything from unusual tastes for less mass appeal music to the fact their local community has so few music radio stations. Radio, as a brand, has actually become stronger because of so many ways of consuming it.
Rotation is still the magic recipe that makes a radio station exciting. I always laugh when I turn on a device and hit the random button and hear the same playlist as I did last time. The lack of awareness of what makes for a variety packed playlist in most of the players is rather astonishing.
The other word we hear these days is “curated” music channels. Like an art gallery with the right pieces of art to wow your imagination. Music channels are fun to use in back ground mode, but nothing beats the one on one we feel when there is a real person doing real radio. Someone to tell us about the music, give us valuable information and let us know what is happening where we live.
It doesn’t matter what we are listening to radio on, it matters how it is executed. Good radio starts with smart software and a programmer who knows how to make it sing.