Friday, January 27, 2012

The multi-platform future

Let's talk about technology: It is new technology that changes radio. In March 2005 the headline of the  "Wired" magazine read "The end of radio". Nothing could be more wrong. Radio appears to be at pretty good health: 90% of the audiences in the UK listen to the radio at least once a week. "Radio is massive", James Cridland (Media UK, managing director radio futurologist) says. People still discover music mainly through radio, either on AM/FM or on the web. Why could "Wired" be so wrong?

The radio world is highly fragmented; there are very few real radio brands. Broadcasting technology is fragmented as well - FM/AM, Internet, mobile phones, DAB/DAB+, DTV... "The world is getting multi-platform", Cridland says, "and radio is going multi-platform as well." Still 2/3 of the radio consumtion is by FM/AM, yet there is DAB (BBC radio 6 music), or even TV (BBC radio 1xtra).

The most important radio platform, Cridland says, is the internet. Yet, every station has got its own player and distribution technology - the only exception being the UK radio player replacing all the different players the stations had built before. (Its usage is exactly the same as it always was: When people are getting up they tune in, either on AM/FM or on the web, and they keep using the radio player the whole day long, until late at night.)

The second most important platform is the mobile, especially the iPhone, a device that has done so much better than any other mobile device. Accordingly the question should be: How can we do the same with radio? By means of crowdsourcing and user-generated content. An remarkable tool for getting the audiences' voice on air is, a mobile app that lets people record and hand in their recordings with a single tap. The industrial revolution called internet can also change the process of radio making. Instead of of costly radio studios you just need a free software like Audacity or an iPhone/iPad/Android app to create high quality audio pieces.

Publishing programmes on the web, Cridland says, will let much more people listen to them than just by broadcasting. Cridland's conclusions:
  • The future of radio is multiplatform.
  • Radio needs to concentrate on the user interface and discovery.
  • Media is changing from consumption to creation.
  • Recognise the power of the brand.

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