When Nielsen released its annual study of media consumption, it confirmed that music is still a major factor in our content consumption: The study found that 91 percent of the population listens to music each week. One of the biggest positive listening trends was in the digital realm, with 75 percent of people listening to music online during the week. But the most interesting part of this survey was the growth of digital listenership, up 12 percent from the previous survey.
That double-digit increase indicates billions of additional views for online videos, billions more downloads for podcasts, and billions more sessions of music streaming.
Those billions of trackable (and monetizable) clicks and downloads have forced many companies to rethink their digital strategies and organize what they’re offering their audiences beyond the radio dial. While it looks like a great opportunity for radio and podcast entertainers, the fast growth has led cable companies and television networks to rethink their business plans as well.
What is your local audience looking for, and what are you providing for them? Passion should be the building block for your digital content. Actor, sports analyst, musician, future NBA Hall of Famer, podcaster, and all-around entertainer Shaquille O’Neal has enough on his resume, but he has found fulfillment in sharing his musical tastes, and has started Shaq Fu Radio, an online station featuring his favorite songs. Shaq tells Radio Ink, “I get to play whatever I want. We also give guys who are dreaming to be an artist a chance. We could help someone become famous or get their confidence up. We’re not a traditional radio station where you just keep repeating the top hits.” At your radio station, new music discovery can still happen under your branding umbrella — and it doesn’t have to draw listeners away from your main channel. Think of it as an extension.
Shaq Fu Radio CEO Gentry Thomas says it all starts with the Shaq brand. “Everyone is familiar with Shaq’s Hall of Fame basketball career,” he says, “but a lot of people I think are surprised when they find out how respected he is as a rapper. His passion for music and knowledge of the rap game are going to translate into a winner with Shaq Fu Radio.”
The personalities at your station need to be invested in the digital medium, and you can’t force that. Gentry points out, “Shaq has not missed a promotions meeting. Typically he is the one coming up with the ideas that move the needle.” You might not be able to come up with a cash prize, but imagine giving your listeners the experience of getting involved in the same passions as your personalities. An exclusive experience is really all you need, and it’s what your fan base wants out of your digital offerings.
Says Gentry, “Some of the promotions that are coming for 2016 include a chance to play a game of HORSE at Shaq’s indoor basketball court, inside his 64,000-square-foot Orlando mansion; a worldwide DJ search with a cash prize; trips to hang with Shaq on his DJ tour; and a live call-in show where his fans can ask him anything.”
We need to focus on content beyond music. New-music discovery should also be thought of as new-content discovery in 2016. Stations like Shaq Fu Radio use a personality to gain attention, but then rely on the connection to make it work. Your station could also benefit from known personalities doing what they do best, which could include talking about their interests or hobbies in the form of podcasts. Shaq says the motivation is to have fun: “I like to make people feel good, make them laugh, and have a good time.” If your station has entertainers, allow them to entertain. You will see your digital brands grow and become more and more monetizable.