• Clement S. Sealy, Jr.

Should Radio Change?

The music industry is live in the hope of curing itself.  Labels are looking to get their artists seen. Streaming companies are looking to increase revenue from the scared-whipped backs of an artist, from independents to superstars. Markets are being analyzed, reconstructed, and relabeled to increase the bottom line. However, the footprints of the past still linger in the sand even after the rain, typhoon, or any other storm has passed. Those footprints belong to Radio.


Many artists look at radio as a second fiddle to streaming for exposure. With the availability of streaming on devices from phones, cars, computers, and AI devices that can be commanded to play whatever the user wants and any given time, anyone would concede this conclusion. As always the facts are the facts and fact is, currently, radio is the only large scale media that can reach a national audience at a shared time and place.


Here's The Issue With Radio

It has a short playlist.  Top 40’s of old, new, and Dj requests still fill the airwaves as it has done in the beginning with a formatted list of “what should be played and when”.

And the list is pretty much a shortlisted rotation of tracks for the day or even week. When its competitors in streaming allow the user to create its own playlist from a catalog of songs whenever they want.  


Can Radio Change?

Yes.  Radio has quite a few tangible assets that allow it to stand above its competitors.

1. Its a better discovery platform than streaming

2. Radio provides a more powerful context than streaming.

3. Radio provides a sense of community

4. Radio serves niches

5. Radio provides identity

6. Radio provides shared experiences simultaneously across the nation.

Taking all of these assets and combining streaming like rotation to their repertoire (a new playlist every hour or two instead of every day) can allow them to be a more formidable opponent to streaming. Compared to radio streaming is cold and lifeless. Streaming companies wants independents and superstars to showcase. “Put your music here”, “Tell your friends, family, and fans”, these are marketing strategies to increase the streaming companies bottom line. Why can’t radio use the same concept? Its a no brainer to me.


The music industry’s cure is not in relying on the brand new shiny wagon with pretty white wheels. That wagon should be an addition to the collection. Along with rebuilding the wagon from the early 1900s (the dating radio was transmitted commercially), that was designed to be a wagon, by maintaining its availability and reliability can remain as an asset and should stay in the collection.  

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