(By Andrew Curran) The last 12 months have seen a variety of significant milestones in and around AM/FM radio.
Some of the most notable events include:
• iHeart is in the process of massively cutting its debt as it navigates bankruptcy.
• Entercom closed on its acquisition of CBS Radio.
• Cumulus emerged from bankruptcy.
• Nielsen has included radio data in advertiser planning tools including Local Media Impact, a cross-platform resource.
• P&G, the world’s largest advertiser, rediscovered the power of radio to sell its premium consumer products to our employed listeners.
The magnitude of these changes, both individually and collectively, is difficult to fully quantify at the moment, but the significance will be felt for years to come.
Each one serves to enhance the vibrancy and strength of AM/FM radio, the 800-pound gorilla of audio.
Meanwhile on the digital audio side:
In fact, “winning” the streaming battle is proving to be a hollow victory. As revenues have grown for both platforms, so have the losses, while spot revenue for AM/FM continues to put billions to the bottom line nationwide.
Spotify has lost nearly $2 billion and Pandora has lost more than $1 billion in recent years. For its part, when talking about Apple Music, CEO Tim Cook says, “we’re not in it for the money.” Meanwhile AM/FM spot revenue puts billions to the bottom line nationwide.
In a recent Fast Company article, Cook continues, “Music inspires, it motivates. It’s also the thing at night that helps quiet me. I think it’s better than any medicine.”
With a perspective like that, it’s not much of a surprise that Apple has long been critical of platforms using algorithms to select the music. As their CEO says, “We worry about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft.” The “art and craft” of song selection sounds very much like a tip of the hat to radio programmers, from the head of the first U.S.-based trillion-dollar company, nonetheless.
As we embark upon another Labor Day weekend (the unofficial holiday for radio’s core, employed listeners), there’s ample reason for those working in and around radio to appreciate the current wind at our backs.
Happy Labor Day!
Andrew Curran is the President and COO of DMR/Interactive.