RAIN 3/26: Canadian broadcasters say radio's digital future has yet to be defined, but should be embraced

Michael Schmitt
March 26, 2012 - 11:40am

Canadian radioCanadian radio's digital future is coming and, though what that future may be remains unclear, it's up to broadcasters to shape it. That was the "big idea" put forward by broadcasters -- most of whom have launched some type of new Internet service -- at last week's Canadian Music Week in Toronto.

Digital music is "a very important space," said Bell Media Radio president Chris Gordon. "We don't know which way it's going to go at any time, but these are valiant efforts that are going to be invested in, until they prove that they're profitable or not." Bell Canada is acquiring Astral Media (RAIN coverage here), which recently launched a new on-demand web music service, offering "niche format channels" and "personalized streaming music" (more here). 

Astral Media VP Rob Farina said the company has hired more than 100 new staff members to tackle such digital endeavors. "As an industry, we need to embrace digital media to strengthen the relationship and value of our brands to the consumer," he said. "I don’t believe it will always be towers delivering our signal, with more audio and streaming options heading to the dashboard. The opportunity is now for radio to reinvent itself."

Daniel Anstandig recently argued Bell's acquisition of Astral would result in "a more integrated media hub than anything the world has ever seen before" (RAIN coverage here). That mimics thoughts shared by CBC Music executive director Chris Boyce, who said, "We think our biggest opportunity is music content across all of our platforms: TV, radio, digital... Our goal with CBC Music is really quite simply to connect Canadians with the music that they love." CBC in February launched a new online music service featuring 40 web-only radio stations (pictured; more coverage here.)

CBC Music's recently launched music service

"We continue to learn about this digital space. Anybody who says they are an expert in this digital space is lying," said Corus Radio VP Dave Farough during CMW's "Social Radio" panel. Farough said Corus recently merged its interactive and radio divisions ("We realized that we’re not radio and interactive – we’re ‘this’ now. It really is all one big pot, if you will."). To illustrate that focus, he said Corus now expects on-air talent to be content creators, too, especially online.

"To those old dogs that refuse to learn the new tricks in our business, I say to them: Get another job. Go find another industry, because this is the way it is," Farough said. "The Internet is here to stay, and let’s embrace it and use all of the tools at our fingertips, instead of fighting against it."

Cartt.ca has more coverage here.

Paul Maloney
March 26, 2012 - 11:40am

On Monday when he clicks on the mic, West Coast shock-jock legend Tom Leykis will become the latest former on-air talent to begin producing a daily radio show on the Internet (e.g. Bubba the Love Sponge, coverage here)

Leykis left the airwaves in February 2009, when KLSX-FM/Los Angeles owner CBS Radio changed the format to top-40. Leykis has a 5-year contract with CBS that continued to pay him (much like Chicago legend Steve Dahl (more here)), so he sat on the sidelines.

In July 2010, Leykis launched New Normal Music, an online stream of independent and new rock and pop music. Today, that stream is just one of eight audio options on his NewNormalNetwork.com site (there are two other music streams, several podcasts focused on high-end cocktails (including his own "The Tasting Room," which is syndicated on-air), and the daily "The Gary & Dino Show").

“We can produce the same or better content without real estate, without big, expensive and outdated equipment such as transmitters and satellite dishes, and without government regulation," he explains in the press release announcing his Monday debut. "We can be heard anywhere in the world rather than in select radio markets... We can sell advertising at a far more reasonable price than a local radio station... We are offering special rates to small and medium sized businesses that feel that they’ve been shut out from radio advertising..."

The new Tom Leykis Show will debut Monday and stream 3pm (PT) weekdays at http://www.blowmeuptom.com/. Read the press release here.

Michael Schmitt
March 26, 2012 - 11:40am

TechCrunch recently sat down for a video interview with CEO of The Echo Nest, Jim Lucchese. The discussion explains a little about what Echo Nest does, which companies they're working with (including some big players, like Clear Channel) and how Lucchese envisions the music industry's near future. You can watch the video above (TechCrunch's article can be found here). 

Lucchese will be a panelist at the upcoming RAIN Summit West 2012 conference. He'll join Slacker CEO Jim Cady, iHeartRadio's Owen Grover and Rovi's Michael Papish (along with moderator Sean Ross) to discuss Personalized Radio.

You can find out more about RAIN Summit West 2012 right here.

Michael Schmitt
March 26, 2012 - 11:40am

MOG's new iPad appOn-demand music service MOG launched a new app for iPads over the weekend.

Business Insider reports the app "offers an identical list of features as its iPod/iPhone counterpart, the only difference being that the interface fills the iPad's screen." The publication also argues (here) MOG's iPad app debut "makes Spotify's lack of an iPad presence all the more glaring."

It's rumored that MOG is being acquired by Beats Audio, of which major phone-maker HTC is a majority shareholder (RAIN coverage here).