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Radio 2.0 Manifesto by Julien Mourlon and Cleverwood
It is time for radio stations to adapt to the new media technologies and to the ever-evolving listeners’ behavior. Why would a kid born today decide ten years from now to turn on a radio? Unless we start working actively on the future of radio, that kid might not even know what radio is. Internet has changed the way we communicate, access information, watch television or read the news. The next (r)evolution is radio. This document does not advocate replacing all FM radio stations with online alternatives but asks, instead, that we prepare for what lies ahead. _1
Much more can be done with online radio than podcasting and content streaming. Online radio should not be mistaken for podcasting. Podcasts should be seen as a middle-step, an experiment leading to a new way of listening to radio anytime/anywhere, through multiple channels and formats. Online radios should be easy to listen to. Don’t expect your listeners to visit your website and click five times before accessing your stream. Listeners are used to simply turning a button to start listening to their favorite radio station. The online experience should be a one-click operation as well. Listeners do not want to visit your website; instead, they want to listen to your radio. I strongly believe that developing desktop or mobile applications will help online radio attract and retain listening audiences. Through these applications, listeners will visit your website when they need additional information. _2
Traditional radio stations should understand what their added value/unique brand is and focus on that. Everything done today through airwaves can be done in a more interactive and efficient way online. Traffic reports, weather forecasts, news reports and commercials could be adapted for a listener’s location/preferences/tastes. Contests and other interactive content could be improved by the use of new interfaces. _3
Radio 2.0 is not about reinventing radio but exploiting new technologies to reach more people with better content and end-user interactivity. We are in the middle of an « everything 2.0 » trend. For the sake of clarity, let’s say that traditional FM radios are 1.0, a radio stream broadcasted over the Internet is 1.5 and the same audio stream enabling more content and interaction is 2.0. More and more, listeners will filter, recommend and produce content. Soon they will also generate their own personal program grid, gathering audio contents from all over the web. _4
Computer-generated playlists and on-demand jukeboxes are the new music radio stations. While lacking editorial content, initiatives like Deezer and Last.fm could be seen as alternatives to music radio stations. Just like current radio stations, these services help listeners discover new talent. They are the music industry’s perfect partners in a media environment characterized by collaboration and co-creation. _5
Welcome to Long Tail radio stations. Your audience is waiting for you. As it becomes easier and cheaper to create a radio station, many new actors will soon enter the radio arena. Live365, Radionomy and similar online services allow users to create their own radio station at no (or minimal) cost. Everybody from journalists, bloggers and radio aficionados to television stations, newspapers, record labels and even car manufacturers may want to create online radio stations representing their own flavor. And you can be sure there will be an audience for each of them. _6
There are more business models available for online radio stations than for their FM counterparts. Segment your business model: ads, direct sales, merchandizing, memberships (freemiums) could coexist. Advertising-supported online radio stations share the same model as traditional radio stations. A linear radio stream with commercial breaks is a known model, but advertisers will reach their audience more efficiently through ads placed also outside of the stream, inviting listeners to interact with their brands. Online radios should take advantage of the power of multimedia to display ads in a more creative way. Make money through subscription. Everybody loves to be a VIP and receive exclusive content (for instance a prerelease version of a song, the full version of an interview or some behind-the-scenes footage). Make your online services addictive. Last but not least, it’s much easier to target and measure your online audience. _7
Context is the key. Supplement your audio stream with related content. Great content introduced by strong personalities is what makes people listen to radio. Radio hosts (should we call them audio bloggers now?) will remain trendsetters but will benefit from new tools to share their opinions/tastes (e.g. blip.fm, Facebook or Twitter) Internet allows us to link audio content to multimedia information (content related to the audio being broadcasted), offering an incredible added value and a much better experience for listeners than the raw audio stream offered by FM radio. _8
Radio will remain a community-based medium but the community doesn’t have to be local anymore. One difference between terrestrial and online radio is that the latter is not limited to a geographic area. Listeners will keep a strong relationship with their favorite radio stations even if the way they connect to the radio station will evolve. As traditional radio stations do today, online stations should improve the real-life experience of their listeners through contests, event partnerships… Anything linked to the real world increases brand visibility. _9
Listening to the radio doesn’t require 100% of the listener’s attention. But once you catch their attention you’d better give them something nice. So why not display related content and additional information in your player? Radio stations should also invite listeners to discover the infinite diversity of content available online. What you hear is what you might want to read, try, visit, buy… _10
We need new devices to connect to online radio. Mobile is the way to go. Online radio access anytime and anywhere will be achieved through pocket computer/enhanced mobile phones. These will provide network access to a variety of audio devices (car radio, home system) and become a remote control, allowing listeners to interact with their favorite radio station. _11
The way radio is done today is just one of the many possibilities we have to make radio in the coming years. Julien Mourlon, the author, is a civil engineer specialized in computer science and a radio host on various Brussels-based radio stations. After a few years in the banking industry, he decided to fully develop his online radio project (www.laid-back.be). He is currently working on a desktop player that allows listeners to enjoy radio like never before. Cleverwood represents Julien for online radio consultancy and strategy. Contact us for feedback, questions or if you think our experience can help you in your next generation radio projects: Julien Mourlon - firstname.lastname@example.org or [email_address] Thank you to Fabian Tilmant (Cleverwood), Bie Vancraeynest, Tom Van Hout, Noah Greenwood, Stephen Wilkins, Anthony Janssens and everybody who shared their thoughts on the various draft versions of this document. If you want to stay informed with our latest radio trend watching, join us on the Radio 2.0 network: www.radio20.be