Up until just last year, new songs were introduced almost exclusively via radio and sometimes TV. Last year was the first time that some major songs were introduced via the web and made their way to the radio from there. At least, according to an article I read on nytimes. This is a major shift in the way songs are marketed: get enough hits on the web and you have good ammunition to go to the big players and earn a record label. Only time will tell when the big players are going to be all the web sites and not the radio/TV and record labels, but that time is coming.
All one has to do is look at the demographics: those of us of the “before the web” (BtW) generations still go to radio and TV more than the web. If you’re old enough, you probably only go to “oldies” radio stations or have your songs on your CDs or mp3 player (if you’ve moved up to mp3 ) But, look at your children or children’s children. What do they do with their time? In my experience, they play games, listen to music, and watch shows/movies on portable electronic devices (PEDs), e-pads/players of one ilk or another. So, it is no surprise that they have finally shown that the first place a new song will be heard is not on a radio but on the web. I can’t even remember the last time I saw my children turn on a radio to listen to a radio station and not simply use some other feature such as the mp3 input or CD player. My eldest grandchild is old enough but I’ve never seen her even turn a “radio” on. I’ve showed her how, I showed her how we can listen to thunderstorms coming in using the old AM radio band, and how to listen to the news or music. But, while my children might have asked for a portable radio, the kids now want PEDs to play their music or listen to books, play games, or even to watch a movie. Almost none of these devices, as far as I know, have radio receivers built into them. I know some of my mp3 players do, the old standard broadcast FM not the newer digital FM radio, but I don’t think the e-pads do. I admit that I only have my personal and family experience here with a nook color, a kindle, and an iPad. Even if they do, it is not something advertised, and it is not something I’ve gone looking for, and nothing anyone uses even if it is there. Why bother when you can go to the web and find your kind of music there so much more easily?
What does all this say about radio? First, the days of radio as the way to introduce music is over. Maybe not this year or next, but soon. Radio will play a smaller and smaller role in the introduction of new music to us. The web is here, and more and more things are being done there, or being done there first. There are even new shows which are web-only shows. They may or may not be “big time” right now, but that, too, is only a matter of time. The generations that grew up with radio and TV are growing smaller and the generations who have and now are all growing up with the web will outnumber them, soon if they don’t already, and one really has to wonder what the future of OTA radio and TV will be.
I could go on about how TV programmers are trying to figure out how to include web viewers in the polls but, to me, this is far easier than how to figure out possible numbers of OTA viewers. One can count real hits and views on the web easily, whereas the OTA viewer/listenership was always an approximation based on a sampling of a number of people in the OTA area. Or, I could go on about how much less expensive it is to put up and operate a radio or TV “web station” rather than the OTA version, and there is the potential to reach so many more people using the web, too. One really has to wonder how long it will take the networks to abandon OTA because they can reach so many more with so much less expense using the web. When will they start to turn their backs on the OTA technology and fully embrace the new web technology? Not soon I think, but the writing is on the wall and one only has to open one’s eyes to read it: “the web is near, the web is here,” and listen, the clock is ticking… tick, tick, tick.
Until Next Time, Good Listening & Viewing,