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The New Radios

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Sometimes technological innovation takes away. Sometimes it gives.

Walk into any Best Buy and look for an AM/FM radio and it will be difficult to find one, but there are "new radios" right at the front of the store.  

Digital has changed so much of legacy media. The music business was famously rocked by theft and illegal sharing on platforms like Napster. The movie industry filed suit against VCR makers, but later made billions with VHS tapes, DVDs, and streaming video. Print publishers now reach more people than ever — but on digital platforms.

Today, television has evolved to a predominantly on-demand medium, having crossed the 50 percent threshold from live viewing a few years ago. People watch shows at a time of their choosing. 

So, where is commercial radio in the vortex of digital change? It is at a remarkable inflection point; streaming and mobile are becoming giants and forcing the rethink of AM/FM-only distribution strategies.  

Audio listening is growing, however, people are accessing and listening to audio on new devices that don't have AM/FM dials. 

The "new radios" in the front of the store are smartphones and smart speakers and how people listen to audio on them is different than linear AM/FM.   

People are accessing and listening to audio on new devices that don't have AM/FM dials

Since Marconi, commercial radio has been making content for one-time use — on the air and gone. According to multiple sources, less than 1% of commercial radio listening in PPM markets is to time-shifted audio. In an on-demand, Netflix-loving world, that doesn’t portend good things for radio.

According to Edison Research, 1 of every 5 minutes of audio is now heard on a smartphone — as streaming and podcasts become more popular, and in-car systems like Apple CarPlay proliferate, that number is certain to rise.

Smartphones have become audio entertainment hubs, not surprisingly, with the highest use among 18-34-year-olds. Anyone with millennials in their lives sees the generational shift and expectation with media to on-demand. 

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At the same time, another significant change is underway in millions of bedrooms, kitchens, and family rooms: “smart speakers,” led by Amazon’s Echo, are on fire. Over the years, radio has lost a great deal of at-home listening. With some imagination by commercial radio, smart speakers have the potential to increase at-home listening.

The category is so fertile, we partnered with Jacobs Media to create Sonic AI, a company that develops audio "skills" for smart speakers. Among the things people do most with smart speakers is listen to audio. That's great news.  The choices, however, are vast and far greater than the local radio dial - 100,000 radio stations, 400,000 podcasts and music and spoken-word content with low commercial loads, from services including Spotify, Amazon Music, and Pandora,  

This smart speaker audio "superstore" of choice, suggests that stations that simply "check the box" by putting their stream on the Amazon Echo and don't go any further will likely be disappointed and more significantly, miss out. The on-demand potential for these devices is significant. 

Every platform has distinct attributes, and just slapping broadcast content on smart speakers and smartphones is not going to be enough.

The biggest potential win is the opportunity to share great, curated “bite-size” content and to develop original, device-specific content to entice people to engage with smart speakers. Local TV news has done a masterful job of using the same newsroom that creates the 6 o’clock news to develop distinctive content specifically for mobile apps and now, smart speakers. We like that type of thinking, for smartphones and smart speakers. 

The "new radios" have opportunity written all over them: Most of the audience misses as much as 80 percent of a top-performing morning show’s content, so time-shifting top content is a natural fit. In PPM markets, content listened to within 24 hours is accretive to Nielsen ratings, effectively creating an opportunity for extra quarter-hours. That’s something radio has never had before.

Unlocking the potential of the "new radios" involves new strategies for each platform.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Alexa. 

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Things Apple's iPhone Helped Destroy

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Apple introduced its new iPhones yesterday including the iPhone X. On this 10th anniversary it's worth pausing for a moment to appreciate the tectonic change smartphones have made in our lives.  We now text, map, app, take selfies, talk to Siri, Shazam songs, run our calendars, listen to streamed audio, etc. - all on one extraordinary device. 

It is hard to believe that when I picked up my first iPhone in 2007, there wasn't even an app store.  At the time, getting weather and stocks instantly seemed remarkable.

In the same 10 year span, smartphones have been the catalyst to a huge path of business destruction - think Kodak and taxis.  

The New York Times has put together a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the wreckage.  And it all starts with a device that was ubiquitous to the success of the radio business, which is now mighty hard to find.  Watch the video below. More from the NY TIMES.

And oh yes; some things it did not destroy - it put rocket fuel into podcasting with a little purple app.

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Here is How Radio and Podcasting Work Together Magnificently

Steve Goldstein (L) and Kirk Minihane (R) at the Radio Show in Austin, TX.

Steve Goldstein (L) and Kirk Minihane (R) at the Radio Show in Austin, TX.

Podcasting has been both a trouble spot and curiosity for commercial radio.  While the sector is blowing up, commercial radio is responsible for less than 1% of the audio listened to in podcasting.  Part of the slow adoption is a concern among managers and programmers that on-demand audio will diminish the ratings eco-system so important to commercial radio.  In short, a fear the ratings will go down. 

At last week’s NAB/RAB Radio Show in Austin, I was invited to do a keynote on podcasting.  As part of the presentation, I had the good fortune to bring to the stage WEEI, Boston's Kirk Minihane.  In addition to co-hosting Kirk and Callahan, one of the top morning shows in Boston, he also hosts his own successful podcast Enough About Me.  Since its inception two years ago the podcast, which is released bi-weekly, has grown to an impressive 150,000 monthly downloads. 

One of the things which attracted Kirk to podcasting is the ability to break out beyond the restrictions of a fast-paced morning show. "I am not a huge fan of guests on the radio show" he said.  He wanted to be able to take his time and interview Boston sports and media stars in a less frenetic environment, and podcasting was the ideal vehicle. 

Minihane is a longtime podcast fan, listening to shows ranging from Marc Maron, podcasts about running, comedian Joe Rogan and Serial (first season) to David Axelrod many of which he listens to while running.  He notes that ads read by hosts sound better and "seem perfectly natural."  

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Minihane said the podcast was part of his vision during a contract negotiation and he received a great deal of support. "Management wanted this to happen" he told the crowd. WEEI General Manager Phil Zachary and Entercom VP of Digital Strategy, Tim Murphy spearheaded the venture's conceptualization and development plan with Kirk.  

Minihane told the crowd that the podcast is not an island.  He regularly plays segments from the podcast during the morning show.  For example, he had a contentious 10 minute interview segment with the Mets' Lenny Dykstra which made for great content on both platforms. Kirk said; "It's cross-promotion that wasn't available before."  

Answering the question about whether the podcast has siphoned listeners from on-air, he told the crowd that the podcast numbers continue to grow at the same time the morning show ratings have ascended.  In fact, the morning show has risen to the top spot in Boston over the past few months and part of that includes a rise of younger (25-34) listeners matching the younger profile of most podcasts.

Asked about whether the podcast attracts new listeners or they mostly come from the radio program, he felt that social media indicators showed that the podcast was exposing him to new listeners, and some who were not familiar with him on WEEI. 

Kirk's advice: “If you’re on the air and there’s something you’re passionate about that you don’t get to talk about on the air, do it. If you find a core loyal audience, advertisers will follow. And what I’ve found is that people who found the podcast didn’t know me on the radio, and then have tuned in there and liked what they hear.”

"Enough About Me" is a great audio brand extension for WEEI and a great tool in moving a top market talent onto multiple platforms.  

Congratulations to Kirk for the foresight and Entercom for the leadership.  It was a pleasure having him during the keynote session, Radio's New Strategies and New Platforms which I shared with Fred Jacobs.  Fred covered an important study his firm assembled about how radio can look better in the dashboard.  More coverage about both parts of the keynote here

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Radio's New Strategies and New Platforms tomorrow at the NAB/RAB Radio Show

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On Wednesday of this week at the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Austin, Fred Jacobs and I will lead a two-part headliner session.  

The car is going through significant change as an entertainment platform. Every new car has a lot more tech and more listening choices. Fred will reveal key findings from a recent NAB study on in-car presence which will be critical in protecting radio's in-car moat.

I'll follow by laying out the opportunity and strategies for commercial radio to make headway onto two major platforms - podcasting and smart speakers.  These are two important platforms for radio to master, and the time is now as more audio choices proliferate and compete for listener attention.

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I will have as special guest, Kirk Minihane from WEEI, Boston.  Kirk is co-host of the WEEI morning show and an early adopter to podcasting. His podcast is among the biggest original content shows coming from radio. His story is a great one and shows how talent can and should master multiple content platforms.

Join us for the "Fred and Steve Show, " tomorrow, September 6 at 4pm at The Radio Show.

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8 Takeaways From Podcast Movement

A full room of radio people at Jacobs Media hosted "Broadcasters Meets Podcasters" track

A full room of radio people at Jacobs Media hosted "Broadcasters Meets Podcasters" track

Three years ago there were seven people from the radio business at Podcast Movement. That's not hyperbole.  Along with public radio and hobbyists, there were only seven radio people.  I was one of them.  I was the first commercial broadcaster to speak at Podcast Movement. Three years later, it looks a lot different. A significant contingent from the radio business was at last week's conference, including several radio group heads. That says a lot about the rapid ascension of podcasting in general, and broadcasting specifically.  

Some of the major themes heard at Podcast Movement:

Invigorating, energetic, transformative, frightening, opportunity, dynamic ad-serving, lots of radio-people, commercialization, smart-speakers.

Here are 8 takeaways from the conference:

  • The industry is evolving rapidly – It was a cottage industry dominated by hobbyists, enthusiasts, small business and public radio.  Now we see well financed aggregators, radio networks, radio groups, publishers and investors.  Even Google was on hand.  
  • Young demos excited about audio - Sure, it's a YouTube video-centric generation, but most of Podcast Movement's 2,000 attendees are younger than a typical radio gathering and energized about audio storytelling and conversation.  There is an intimacy and authenticity about listening to podcasts unmatched in other media, which is clearly attractive to this demo.  Forbes Magazine ran a piece recently about millennials eschewing blogs for podcasts.  That feels evident here.  
  • There is money out there – No one could miss the investment in the category.  Just in the past couple of weeks Entercom announced its deal with DGital Media (now Cadence13), publisher platform Art19 attracted top investors.  More financial announcements are forthcoming. Even some of the smaller podcasters smell the scent of cents, spending time in sessions on subjects like "dynamic ad insertion." 
  • Radio was there in force – The “Broadcaster Meets Podcaster” track assembled by Jacobs Media was packed. Seeing some radio group heads on hand was encouraging.  It finally feels as though there is some traction, but commercial radio has a great deal of catching up to do.  BTW, I will be discussing radio's path to podcasting during a keynote at the upcoming Radio Show in Austin.  

The hallmark of podcasting is the innovative content and fresh ideas that come from fertile minds not bound by linear thinking and structure

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  • There is energy in new content ideas – The hallmark of podcasting is the innovative content and fresh ideas that come from fertile minds not bound by linear thinking and structure.  I listened to and met people who are fearless in creating something that hasn’t been done before. I met with a guy who runs an HVAC business in Florida and married his knowledge with podcasting.  His podcast has rapidly ascended to must-listen status in his industry and along with it, he has attracted sponsors from major HVAC vendors. He is bringing in dollars that would be the envy of any radio organization.
  • Public Radio’s leadership is unmistakable – They continue to lead in content, sales and thinking. Listening to Dean Cappello from WNYC, New York and Tamar Charney from NPR detail the thought, planning, R&D, resources and iteration behind their efforts is incredibly impressive.  I have been told that podcasting now out bills broadcast at WNYC.  When you think about it that way, you can see why the effort is so significant. Jennifer Ferro, President of public giant KCRW, Los Angeles was on a panel I moderated entitled “What Radio Execs Think of Podcasting.” Jennifer said they use their podcast platform of 28 titles to introduce KCRW to younger listeners, many of whom do not listen over the terrestrial signal. They are using their voice effectively on multiple platforms. 
  • Teach – There is an openness and collegiality of sharing.  Conversations abound about best-practices and content ideas that is characteristic of an early-stage industry.  There is a sense that everyone is on a common journey. 
  • Content creators are data-starved – It’s hard operating in the blind. At previous Podcast Movement conferences, there was little data to share or inform. This year Larry Rosin and Tom Webster of Edison Research headlined a keynote with well received podcast data.  My company teamed up with Nuvoodoo Media for a well attended session in which we debuted new data and video excerpts of 1-on-1 focus interviews with millennials (details forthcoming).  These were the industry’s first significant studies. 

Podcast Movement was once again inspiring and exhilarating.  As Alex Blumberg said at last year's conference, "it's the second golden age of audio."   It sure feels that way.  

Here is coverage from All Access

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I will be speaking on podcasting and smart speakers at a headliner session entitled: Radio's New Strategies and New Platforms on Wednesday at 4pm at the Radio Show.  My special guest will be Kirk Minihane of WEEI, Boston who has brilliantly combined morning radio with a succesful podcast.   

 

 

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To Make a Successful Podcast, Start With These Eight Essential Questions

According to Apple, there are now over 400,000 podcast titles out there. Last I looked there were 35 on the subject of woodworking and over 40 on fly fishing. So, as you think about selecting a topic and leaping in to develop your own podcast, there are some critical questions which jump ahead of which mic to use.

Good product design always starts with the end user in mind. I didn't know I needed a new blender, but Ninja made a great case. Same goes with podcasting. If your podcast doesn't provide a clear perceived benefit and value right from the start, the chance of garnering a following is pretty limited. 

We have too many conversations without solid answers to these core questions

Content that resonates with listeners successfully answers these 8 key litmus test questions:

  • What is the podcast about? - What is the elevator pitch?
  • Why this podcast? - You could pick lots of subjects.  Why this topic? Knowledge?  Authority?  Credibility?
  • Why this podcast now? - Has something changed in the world, showbiz, news-cycle, to make the timing right?
    • What makes this podcast different/unique? - What is the fresh take?
    • What makes this podcast better than others in the category?
    • People click on podcasts with an expectation - What will they feel during/after listening?
      • What will they learn? 
      • How will it make them feel? 
      • Will they smile? Laugh? Cry? Think? 
    • Who is going to listen to this podcast?  - Who is the target listener?  Age?  Location?  
    • How will the podcast be discovered? - Social?  Broadcast? Print? What is the promotion catalyst? Frequency of cross-marketing?

    Many broadcasters are now looking to get into podcasting. We applaud that. We, however, have a lot of conversations without solid answers to these core questions, which in our view, will often impede success.

    A version of this ran in my column at All Access

    HOW PEOPLE REALLY LISTEN TO PODCASTS 

    At Podcast Movement in Anaheim we have teamed with Nuvoodoo Media to present the findings of a series of breakthrough one-on-one focus groups with millennials. This first-ever series covers many topics including:

    • How many podcasts are they really listening to per week?
    • Where are they listening to podcasts?
    • What impact do the ads have?
    • Which podcasts do they listen to?
    • How do they find new podcasts?
    • Do they listen all the way through a podcast?
    • And more ..... 

    Thursday, August 24, 11am - watch the trailer:

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    Just because you can drop an F'bomb in a podcast .....

    At last week's Morning Show Bootcamp in Atlanta, it was exciting to see so much young talent on their way up, honing their craft, taking notes, exploring and exchanging fresh content ideas. Goodness knows commercial radio needs to move past "The Almost Impossible Trivia Question" to remain relevant and vital as more audio choices proliferate. 

    Many, if not most, attendees pay their own way to the conference which makes the event even more remarkable.  

    There was, however, one troubling moment I have not been able to get out of my head.  

    It occurred during a very good panel I was on, which covered among other things, podcasting and smart speakers.  We polled the room and found many had started podcasts.  A terrific and quantum change from two years ago.  Several, however, told us they chose to augment their normal over-the-air morning show with an "extra" podcast show that is unfiltered and blue.

    That might seem "exciting" and "dangerous" for broadcasters who must adhere to FCC regulations for over-the-air content, but going blue is hardly novel and hardly dangerous.  Watch YouTube. 

    While Howard Stern still drops an F'bomb here and there, and it fits his brand image, the novelty wore off a long time ago.  Stern is great because of compelling content, with our without, the bombs.  

    Taking an established brand and augmenting it with a couple of "dick jokes" feels lazy and not likely to move the needle for podcast listening. There are over 400,000 podcast titles out there and plenty have some edge to them.  

    As radio hosts think about a podcast strategy, it should be driven with thoughts of developing great, fresh and unique local content. BJ Shea from KISW, Seattle has a podcast called Geek Nation where he and his team spend time on gaming, tech, gadgets, board games and comics.  It's something his daily show can't easily accommodate, and is a great brand extension, especially in hi-tech Seattle (and beyond).   

    There were many great podcast ideas, like Geek Nation, shared at the conference. 

    As radio hosts think about a podcast strategy, it should be driven with thoughts of developing great, fresh and unique local content.

    Long term success in all media is driven by topic knowledge, passion and authenticity.  Asking people to make the effort to find and download a podcast is not likely to occur without a clear listener benefit.  

    We have many conversations with broadcasters looking to add a podcast, and some have difficulty answering these deceptively hard key questions (we have more, but this is where we start):

    • What is the podcast about? - What's the elevator pitch?  
    • Who is going to listen to the podcast? - Is the station's current audience the target or reaching beyond?  Age?  Interests?  
    • Why should they listen? - What will they learn?  How will they feel? How will they benefit?

    The success bar in podcasting is high. Most content creators will not win by lowering the bar, but rather by innovating with fresh and compelling ideas.  

    Many of the people attending last week's Morning Show Bootcamp have the innate talent and ability, if it can be channeled and developed. It is harder than it seems.  

    Podcast is different than broadcast and many are learning that simply checking "the box" by posting a podcast probably won't be enough.  

    Original content is what moves the needle.  


    At the upcoming Podcast Movement, we have teamed with Nuvoodoo Media to present the findings of a series of breakthrough one-on-one focus groups with millennials. This first-ever series covers many topics including:

    1. How many podcasts per week?
    2. Where do they listen?
    3. What impact do the ads have?
    4. Which podcasts do they listen to?
    5. How do they find new podcasts
    6. Do they listen all the way through a podcast

    Thursday August 24, 11am - HOW PEOPLE REALLY LISTEN TO PODCASTS.   Watch the trailer:

     

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    The New Morning Shows: BuzzFeed in the Morning

    Where audio content originates and how it is listened to are rapidly shifting.  Earlier this year, The New York Times began “The Daily,” a 20-minute morning show which has been ripping up the podcast charts.  It was followed shortly by NPR’s morning podcast entry “Up First,” designed to reach NPR listeners who prefer accessing content on-demand.

    The latest morning show is a four-minute daily roundup from “Buzzfeed.  Reporting To You,” takes things a step further with Amazon’s Alexa in mind.  Instead of push notifications, newsletters or even podcasts, the BuzzFeed audience can now just ask for the morning’s top news on their smart speaker from a trusted source with a fresh take.

    “We wanted to make something that stood out, sounded different and most importantly – sounded human," said Eleanor Kagan who is director of audio for BuzzFeed News.

    While available on Amazon’s Echo, it is also published in podcast form.

    Savannah Sellers taping Snapchat's "Stay Tuned"

    Savannah Sellers taping Snapchat's "Stay Tuned"

    BuzzFeed’s announcement closely coincides with a new twice-daily Snapchat news show in partnership with NBC News.  It is a two to three minute highly produced morning and evening news program published at 7am and 4pm.  

    Nick Ascheim, head of digital at NBC News said; "We’re certainly walking before we’re running, but we’re actually sort of jogging before we’re running.” The show, "Stay Tuned" is a compendium of four or five of the top stories of the day and has a crew of 30 creating the daily program.  

    Snapchat reaches nine times more 18-34 year-olds in the U.S. than the top 15 TV networks.  NBC already has a successful Snapchat show about The Voice.  E! has a program called “The Rundown” which draws about 7 million viewers.

    BuzzFeed, of course, is a millennial monster.  

    It is not difficult to see where this is going and the implications for broadcast radio.

    Morning shows used to be the exclusive domain of radio, but platforms now enable "new competitors" who don't own a broadcast transmitter, to reach a mass audience.

    These are big content creators pushing beyond their silos and developing programming on multiple platforms to extend their brand and reach.

    Audio is having a moment as an exciting platform for big companies to create new content and interesting morning alternatives.

    Good morning. 

     

    Happy to be appearing with this all-star crew at Morning Show Bootcamp in August

    Happy to be appearing with this all-star crew at Morning Show Bootcamp in August

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    Webinar Replay: Changes to Radio Listening in the Home

    Earlier this week, Amplifi and Jacobs Media joined forces to present a webinar about how smartphones, podcasts and smart speaker devices are impacting listening in the home.  We have had requests for a replay, so here it is:

     Click the link below for the replay of the webinar which offers thoughts and recommendations.

    Steve Goldstein

     

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    Why Radio Needs To Get Voice Assist Speakers Right

    Today, television is primarily an on-demand medium, having crossed the 50% threshold from "live" a few years ago. People watch shows at a time of their choosing. 

    Commercial radio has not yet mastered time-shifted audio. According to Nielsen, listening to time-shifted commercial radio in PPM markets is less than 1%.

    All of that is poised for change as smartphones become entertainment hubs and millions of smart speakers make their way into bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens across America.

    Radio can now more easily be consumed at a time of convenience on a device of the listener's choosing. 

    In a fragmented listening world, new devices and platforms are a remarkable opportunity for audience retention for radio in ways that could never have been done before, and it opens the door to the possibility of increased occasions of listening. 

    At-home radio listening has declined significantly and radios are sitting in closets and attics. But with 11% of Americans already having access to smart speakers, and 27 million due to be sold this year, as we like to say, smart speakers put radios back into the home. 

    These devices are hot.  This past week Amazon held it's Prime Day and blew the doors off of last year's sales of Amazon Echo and Dots.  Three times as many sold.

    Along with the excellent folks at Jacobs Media, we recently started SonicAi, a joint venture focused on developing "skills" for smart speakers. 

    Here are some things to think about:

    1.     Being there is not an automatic win - Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora and thousands of radio stations from around the world are a simple voice command away. That means it is crowded and stations need to think about how they will distinguish themselves. 

    2.     What's your name? - Smart speaker systems default to Tune-In, and iHeart, but for your station to be selected, the devices must be able to differentiate station names. There are 55 stations named "Kiss" on iHeart, and 44 named "Mix" on Tune-in. If your station uses a name such as Mix, Lite, Amp, Star, or Z104, "claiming" and registering the station's unique name and creating the proper "invocation skill" is critically important. On Amazon's Echo, if you said "Z100," up until recently, you were connected to a country station in Indiana. 

    3.     Think beyond the stream - We are content guys and we don't think the station stream is necessarily the big win on these devices. There is a significant opportunity to create interactive engagement with listeners. 80% of a top performing morning show's content is missed every day. We are working with clients on the vast opportunity to re-think and repurpose "bite-size" benchmark content and create exclusive content for smart speakers to drive traffic. 

    4.     It's accretive - If your station is in a PPM market and time-shifted content is listened to within 24 hours, it can mean extra quarter hours for your station. Delayed viewing in TV is accretive and now radio has a time delay strategy.  

    5.     Think "bite-size" content - With podcasting, we see stations posting 3 and 4 hours of content and hoping listeners will sift through it. That's a pretty horrible experience. We think curated "bite-size" content works much better in this environment. 

    It is truly early innings with these remarkable devices and more (including Apple Homepod) on the way. The arc and expectation of listeners - especially millennials - is that great content be available at a time of convenience on all platforms. We are hyper-focused on getting radio stations past sending all their best content out over the air and on its way to the dwarf planet Pluto. Sometimes technology disrupts, in this case it is poised to aid broadcasting. 

    You can see more at http://www.sonicai.com/

     

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    The Shiny New Thing: Smart Speakers In Homes Result In More Audio Listening

    If you are an audio content producer, the most important thing you should know about the ascension of smart speakers is this; smart speakers in homes result in more audio listening.  A change in overall consumption and listening behavior is the most significant finding from a major new study from Edison Research and NPR.  The Smart Audio study debuted at the RAIN Podcast Business Summit this week. 

    Smart speakers are showing up in family rooms and living rooms (52%), kitchens (25%) and bedrooms (24%).  In many cases, places where radios or other audio devices did not exist before or had been relegated to the basement - one interviewee said she gave her radios away.  

    Tom Webster, Vice President, Edison Research

    Tom Webster, Vice President, Edison Research

    Podcasts get a great boost from these devices, with 70% of smart speaker owners listening versus 45% of non-owners.

    If the top takeaway is more audio being consumed, the next are the giant themes of ease of use, choice and time saving

    If the top take away is more audio being consumed, the next takeaways are the giant themes of ease of use, choice, and time saving. Edison VP, Tom Webster noted that much like the old Star Trek TV series, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, these devices mark the start of the era of talking to computers. Apple's Siri was the first iteration, but smart speakers remove the need to put a thumb on a device. The magic of just using voice to execute commands was clear throughout the video interviews with users during the presentation. One woman was calling up music while holding a newborn, kids chose music to dance to, a man asked for sports scores, another added to a grocery list. 

    Will these devices be the shiny new thing that ends up in a drawer like a fidget spinner?  The study shows how rapidly smart speakers are being integrated into everyday life which suggests this is not a fad. In fact, 45% of owners expect to purchase another device and many households already have more than one.  65% wouldn't go back to their life before the smart speaker.

    All of this amounts to another burgeoning and critical platform in this golden age of audio, that extends beyond the radio. New audio opportunity awaits.  Mastering it with distinctive content among a cornucopia of choice and instant gratification will be the challenge for audio producers.  

    We post more about "skills" development for smart speakers at www.sonicai.com 

    Edison/NPR have a webinar on June 28 with the full presentation.  Well worth it.  

     

    Pleased to be at Morning Show Bootcamp this August in Atlanta

    Pleased to be at Morning Show Bootcamp this August in Atlanta

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    The Biggest Thing to Happen to Podcasts Since Serial Just Happened.

    The new Podcasts App will look more like Apple's Music app

    The new Podcasts App will look more like Apple's Music app

    Today’s world is loaded with things people have said were improbable – see 2016 election - and then there is the impossible. Those with a history in podcasting have said Apple will never share data on when and how long people listen to podcasts. 

    Another ‘impossible” tumbles. 

    Last week at Apple’s developer conference, they announced that its Podcasts App gets a big, and much needed refresh this fall with IOS 11.

    Along with significant design changes, finally Apple will open up in-episode analytics enabling content producers to see when and how long people listen – what they skip over and importantly if/when they bail out. 

    Sample Analytics shown at WWDC17

    Sample Analytics shown at WWDC17

    Up until now, Apple, which accounts for around 70% of all podcast consumption, provided sketchy download information which did not correlate to actual listening. Producers knew how many times a podcast was downloaded but no data on what was actually listened to. 

    The advent of analytics will likely result in change for many podcasters by revealing real listening behavior. They will finally see what listeners like, and conversely, dislike and creators will be able to fine-tune the content accordingly. 

    Apple's new analytics are likely to be a wake-up call for many producers and possibly a reset in the advertising community

    The data will be aggregated and anonymized so no personal information is revealed. This means podcasters, or podcast advertisers, won’t be able to create addressable targeted content to individuals or groups.  That is the expectation from other digital media platforms such as Facebook or YouTube, but unlikely to happen with Apple having no monetary play in podcasting.  It will, however, provide much needed currency, ROI and a bunch of other things advertisers have been looking for in order to justify and shift more dollars into this hot sector. 

    Sample analytics shown at WWDC17

    Sample analytics shown at WWDC17

    For years, commercial and public radio have tweaked their content in response to listening patterns. Apple's new analytics are likely to be a wake-up call for many producers and possibly a reset in the advertising community, answering questions about whether ads are heard or skipped, when shows are stopped and a much needed resolution for many podcasters as to how long their podcast should be.  

    Who's listening to all this stuff? We are about to find out.  

    Apple is not the entire market for podcasting, so it will not be the final word on all listening. Given its dominance, however, the data will likely be used as a proxy for the business.  

    This surprise announcement sets the stage for the next phase of podcasting. More data is good.  

    At the developer conference, Apple announced that there are now 400,000 podcasts and 14 million episodes.  Apple is approving 1,000 new podcasts each week.  Wow.  Who's listening to all this stuff?  We are about to find out.    

    I will be moderating a session with iHeart morning host Elvis Duran and VP of podcasting for iHeart, Chris Peterson at the upcoming RAIN Podcast Business Summit on June 21.

     

     

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