Yesterday I was privileged to co-present Edison's annual study with Arbitron of radio's digital future, The Infinite Dial. I'll be posting the full webcast in this space soon, but earlier today on our company's blog I wrote a brief piece on making content that matters called "One Great Song After Another." A brief note on one slide, but an important one. I know a lot of webcasters--hell, I used to be a webcaster--and one of the things that concerns me is the current fixation on the copyright royalty negotiations and how onerous those rights fees may be for webcasters. This is a serious problem, and one that threatens to put a lot of pure-play webcasters right out of business. I don't want to minimize that.
But let us stipulate for now that the problem gets solved, and let's even say it gets solved with a rate structure that is more in line with what webcasters want to pay, and not what the labels want them to pay. Let's say, webcasters, that you "win." Now what? Assuming that you will still have to pay some royalty, you will need to monetize those streams. Once you no longer have the royalty issue to focus on, you will be left with the fact that you will still need to generate revenue on each and every stream in order to justify its existence. My concern for many webcasters is that they have built their brands solely on being "one great song after another," with no (or at least minimal) advertising, and little to distinguish one company's "80's Hits" stream from another's.
When you have to start increasing the advertising and sponsorship content of your streams, people will look elsewhere unless you've given them a reason to be passionate about your stream. For 98% of the webcasters out there, that can only be done between the records, and it goes well beyond drops, liners and jingles. I want each and every webcaster out there to be successful--believe me, I do!--but I have to care about the passion and the people behind the brand.