The Infinite Dial featured a good post the other day that lead off this way:
If you read the news today, what else could you think but “Oh boy”? Facebook doubled in size in one year, from 250 million to half a billion users. Netflix reported 42% year over year subscriber growth, climbing to 15 million paying users, all in the US. And Pandora announced it has passed the 60 million registration mark, also all domestic, after passing the 40 million mark only at the end of 2009…. What these three have in common, beyond their incredible growth rates, is that they are all bringing media — content — to users in new ways.
For some not in radio, then, business is booming — and in a manner sounding like a Jerry Del Colliano (from Inside Music Media) script, especially with zingers like this:
The growth of these new-media powers makes me think of Lowry Mays’ famous 2003 quote about Clear Channel: “If anyone said we were in the radio business, it wouldn’t be someone from our company,” said Mays. “We’re not in the business of providing news and information. We’re not in the business of providing well-researched music. We’re simply in the business of selling our customers’ products.”
Or, in the case of public radio, selling our “underwriters’ ” products. Elsewhere, at Radio Insights, a July post noted the following:
Pandora just celebrated reaching 60 million registered users. It manages to give the illusion that every one of those 60 million users can listen to a personalized music channel, just for them.
The problem, of course, is an underground youth economy that doesn’t pay for music (half of all teenagers, for instance, didn’t buy one CD last year). Eric Garland, whose company tracks legal and illegal downloads, streams on MySpace and YouTube, merchandise sold on tours, and more, says, “If we’re just talking about the breadth of the audience and not the depth of interest, I don’t think we’re really getting at the value of the music.” And as On the Media’s Eric Garland notes: “If you look at the top of the airplay charts, the top of the sales charts, how many songs, on average, do you think people are interested in from those artists? . . . It’s about 1.1.” In other words, they conclude, the average artist on top of the charts is a one-hit wonder. And the youngsters aren’t about to lay out $20 for one song they may like. And what does that say about public radio’s mad dash to AAA…?