Radio's strength can be "the human effort," Lefsetz says, which data-driven services haven't matched

Monday, June 24, 2013 - 3:50pm

Music and media critic Bob Lefsetz, as of April, has brought his inimitable style to Variety. Today in his column he harpoons broadcast radio as "Luddites (who) still believe the Internet didn’t happen."

He says the rest of the media world has at least acknowledged that we no longer live in a "monoculture" (for example, look how many television channels there are). And part of the problem, Lefsetz says, is that too many in radio believe that when Internet connections are widely-available, reliable, and easy and convenient-to-use, radio's a goner anyway.

"Insiders believe that there’s no revolution in terrestrial radio because the owners know it’s headed into the dumper," he writes in Variety. "They’re just milking it for all they can before it falls off a cliff."

While he accepts that Internet in every car is coming (and that's when SiriusXM may also be in trouble), he points out an Achilles Heel of online music services: their lack of human curation that is really the best driver of music discovery for consumers. Perhaps it's radio's lifeline.

"The challenge of Spotify/Rdio/etc. is... to tell their subscribers what to listen to. That’s what traditional radio has done best... curation is all about human effort, not algorithms," Lefsetz wrote.

Read his Variety column here.

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