RAIN Summit

Nominate your service, or encourage your favorite webcaster to do so, before July 31

Monday, July 16, 2012 - 12:05pm

RAIN Internet Radio AwardsThe third-annual RAIN Internet Radio Awards are now free to enter!

The awards celebrate the best of the Internet radio industry in four categories: Best Overall Online Radio Service, Best Streaming Broadcast Station, Best Overall Digital Strategy and Best Single-Stream Webcaster. Help us make these awards a reflection of the truly impressive growth in our industry by entering (or encouraing others to enter) right here.

The deadline for entries is Tuesday, 7/31, at 5pm Central. Last year's winners include Pandora, WTOP/Washington, D.C., Hot 107 CJNW/Edmonton and HealthRadio.net.

This year's awards will be presented at RAIN Summit Dallas on September 18, another gathering in our growing series of world-class Internet radio conferences. The Summit will include a keynote presentation from Clear Channel President of National Sales, Marketing and Partnerships Tim Castelli.

You can find out more about RAIN Summit Dallas here. And click here to enter your service for free in the RAIN Internet Radio Awards!

Call for entries for the third-annual RAIN Internet Radio Awards

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 11:05am

RAIN Internet Radio AwardsRAIN is accepting nominations now for our third-annual RAIN Internet Radio Awards.

The awards celebrate the best of the Internet radio industry in four categories: Best Overall Online Radio Service, Best Streaming Broadcast Station, Best Overall Digital Strategy and Best Single-Stream Webcaster.

Help us make these awards a reflection of the amazing growth in our industry by entering (or encouraging others to enter) right here. The deadline is Tuesday 7/31, at 5pm central time, so don't delay!

Pandora last year was recognized as the Best Overall Online Radio Service, while WTOP/Washington, D.C. won the Best Overall Digital Strategy award. Hot 107 CJNW/Edmonton was named Best Streaming Broadcast Station and HealthRadio.net was the Best Single-Stream Webcaster.

The 2012 Awards will be presented at RAIN Summit Dallas on September 18 (more info here). More information about the RAIN Internet Radio Awards can be found here. Best of luck to all nominees!

Radio legend and digital pioneer Steve Dahl to keynote RAIN Summit Midwest at The Conclave

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 12:40pm

Steve DahlThe upcoming Conclave Learning Conference will -- for the third consecutive year -- conclude with RAIN Summit Midwest. This year's conference will include a keynote presentation from radio legend Steve Dahl.

RAIN Summit Midwest will take place Friday, July 20, starting at 10am. It will feature several presentations and panels, including:

  • RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson's State of the Industry address.
  • "Many Platforms, Many Opportunities," a panel on the best multi-platform strategies. It will include Rick Greenhurt (iBiquity Digital Corporation), Steve Goldstein (Saga Communications), Samy Simpson (Eventr Real-Time Marketing & Advertising) and Mark Kassof (Mark Kassof & Company).
  • "How Stations Can Better Engage Listeners on Facebook," a presentation from knowDigital's Sam Milkman including insights into whether radio stations are truly engaging their audience on Facebook.
  • "'Pure Play' -- Radio's Most 'Direct' Competitors?" will examine the highly competitive, quickly-changing landscape of firms providing online listeners a similar experience to broadcast radio. It will include Mat Bates (Slacker).
  • "Using Social Media As a Show Prep Tool," a presentation on the best practices air talent can use on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and other services to find content for their shows. Valerie Geller (Geller Media International) will present.
  • "Streaming Strategies for Radio," a panel on the pros and cons of attracting listeners and generating revenue for your station via streaming. It will feature Michael Dalfonzo (Abacast), Kevin Straley (TuneIn) and Tyler Brookfield (Liquid Compass).
  • "What to Expect from Digital Marketing," a presentation from Ed Schindler (dmr Interactive) about the best practices for executing marketing campaigns online.
  • And, as mentioned, a keynote presentation from legendary air talent Steve Dahl. Kurt Hanson will interview the self-employed podcaster on-stage about his efforts to move the "Steve Dahl Show" to the digital age.

RAIN Summit Midwest"RAIN Summits have become a fixture at Learning Conferences," said Conclave Executive Director Tom Kay. "While everything we present during the Learning Conference carries a 'can’t miss' connation, Kurt Hanson’s annual trip to tomorrow is all that, and more!"

The 37th Conclave Learning Conference takes place Wednesday, July 18 through Friday, July 20, at the Doubletree Park Place Hotel Minneapolis, MN. Featured speakers include Governor Mike Huckabee on Thursday morning at 9AM and RAB President Erica Farber on Friday morning at 9AM.

You can find out more about the Conclave Learning Conference and register to attend at www.theconclave.com.

We hope to see you there!

Spotify Europe GM Forster keynotes; execs from Deezer, Absolute Radio, Triton to speak

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 12:10pm

RAIN Summit EuropeWe're delighted to announce our first-ever RAIN Summit Europe will take place October 5, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. It will include a keynote presentation from Spotify's General Manager for Europe, Jonathan Forster.

Forster (pictured below left) is responsible for the overall development of Spotify’s European business, leading the strategy and development of advertising sales at Spotify and managing Spotify’s workforce across the region including the UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands and Denmark. Spotify is the most listened to streaming service in Europe, with more than 20 million registered users worldwide.

Jonathan FosterThe first-ever RAIN Summit Europe will take place at the award-winning nhow Hotel ("Berlin’s Music and Lifestyle Hotel").

RAIN Summits are a popular and fast-growing series of world-class Internet radio conferences, geared to broadcasters on the web (e.g., Clear Channel Radio, CBS Radio, and Entercom), and Internet-only webcasters (e.g., Pandora, Slacker, and AccuRadio) alike.

Since 2003, the annual RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas, coinciding with the NAB Show, has been a premiere educational and networking event for the webcasting industry. We'll also host a Summit in Dallas this September.

In addition to Forster, RAIN Summit Europe will include executives from the Association de European Radios, Spectrum Medya, AudioEmotion, Adswizz, Absolute Radio, Deezer, Triton Digital and others.

You can find the Summit's initial line-up of speakers at the RAIN Summit Europe website here. We'll announce more speakers soon, so stay tuned!

You can register to attend RAIN Summit Europe here.

Slacker, Echo Nest, iHeartRadio, Rovi execs debate role of "human touch," listener data during "Personalizable Radio" panel

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 11:00am

Personalizable radio panelCustomizable radio, like the offerings from Slacker, iHeartRadio, Pandora and others, is a "combination of art and science," members of the "Personalizable Radio" panel at RAIN Summit West explained. The discussion was one of the most popular and thought-provoking of the conference.

The "art and science" metaphor was first put forward by Owen Grover, SVP of iHeartRadio. On the one hand, there's the "science": data from companies like The Echo Nest and Rovi about what artists are similar to other artists, what vocalists sound the same, what guitar solos are related and so on. 

But then there's the "art" of also taking into account the much more complicated "cultural" factors, explained Rovi Director of Architecture & Innovation Michael Papish. That is, linking artists and songs that don't necessarily relate to one another scientifically, but that are tied together in popular culture. "There's a lot more going on than just saying 'these two songs sound alike, therefore we should play them together.' There's a lot more behind why humans like different types of music," said Papish. 

Both Grover and Slacker CEO Jim Cady spoke to the power of having an emotional connection within the stream as well. "There has to be humans behind it," said Cady. Slacker employs 75 programmers to give their streams that human touch. Otherwise, "there's a missing emotional connection." He says most users want that "lean-back," curated experience (as long as they can "lean-forward" when need be to customize the stream). Grover said Clear Channel has seen their Custom Radio service actually push new listeners to the traditional AM/FM streams (which are all curation and virtually no personalization).

Michael PapishBut Papish (pictured left) challenged the idea of the power of the human touch. "We think there's something magical being done by the DJ song-to-song, but maybe it's all in the listener's head," he said, referencing studies that found that listeners prefer a random assortment of music just as much as a carefully-crafted playlist. "There may not be a way to measure whether a playlist is 'good' or not."

Whether the playlist has a human behind it or not, "The idea of uniformed playlist given a seed artist is unacceptable," argued The Echo Nest's CEO Jim Lucchese. It must be customized to each listener's individual preferences, and the process of discovering what those preferences are may be the next big challenge for personalizable radio services and the engines that fuel them.

Indeed, data about artist similarity can only take you so far, said Grover. "You don't want to start making too big leaps of faith around data," he explained. "A thumbs down on a Lady Gaga song doesn't necessarily tell you much of anything about that song, that listener, or Lady Gaga." Perhaps the sequence of songs wasn't quite right, or the time of day had an impact, or the listener may have just heard the song 50 times already. More information is needed.

"We may have hit the wall in terms of what we can do with either thumbs up/down, or ratings," mused Papish. "We need to figure out new, better ways of actually asking our listeners what they like." That process is still on-going. "We are just getting started identifying the individual listener," said Lucchese. Papish shared that Rovi, for example, is looking for better ways to have the listener explicitly share preferences with music services. One idea is to use gamification elements to make sharing that information more fun and engaging.

Jim Lucchese and Owen GroverAll this shows that the entire realm of personalizable radio is still "in the exceptionally early days," said Lucchese (pictured first on the right, beside Grover). But it's already changing how consumers think about radio, as the panelists explained.

Cady shared the anecdote of driving with several 10-year-old boys who asked him to skip the song currently playing on FM radio. Grover shared his own experience of a 9-year-old asking why he couldn't go back to the beginning of an AC/DC song playing on the radio. "There's a change that's happening," said Cady. Radio is being redefined and the industry "can't hold on to these old conceptions."

But, in Grover's opinion, the idea that these new customizable services will destroy traditional radio is "nonsense." Papish agreed: "We can't lose that one-on-one feeling," that DJ-curated experience. Not everyone wants that kind of experience all the time, but "we can't lose it."

That said, Grover argued, "If you aren't where your listeners are, with the features and content that they expect, you're nowhere... Be where your listeners are."

You can watch the "Personalizable Radio" panel, moderated by Radio-Info's Sean Ross, from RTT News here.

Borrell Associates CEO urges broadcasters to train its sales forces for digital at RAIN Summit West

Friday, May 18, 2012 - 11:00am

Borrell Associates data"I'm kind of pissed off," began Borrell Associates Founder/CEO Gordon Borrell on-stage at RAIN Summit West 2012. He was thinking about "all the things radio could be doing with the Internet," yet are "being squandered."

On the one hand, Borrell explained during his POV ("Point of View") presentation, radio has the "second-largest sales force out there... a local sales force of 80,000." Yet it has the fifth-largest sales force for digital. "Why is that?"

Meanwhile, said Borrell, "advertisers are desperate for a digital education." And they're looking to their traditional sellers for answers and help. Yet "radio hasn't really significantly trained its sales force" for digital opportunities, argued Borrell. And there are plenty of digital opportunities for radio.

He showed that radio listeners are 48% more likely than the average U.S. consumer to use a PC, laptop or mobile device. And exposure to radio boosts brand browsing online by 52%. "We've seen this for 5-6 years now," Borrell said. "Radio does a better job at driving Internet traffic than the Internet itself."

Gordon Borrell

Some station clusters are already taking advantage of these opportunities and making millions on digital advertising, showed Borrell. But, as an industry, radio's digital advertising share is "puny" -- the second-smallest share of U.S. digital ad dollars. That said, radio's digital ad revenues are expected to grow 35% this year.

But Borrell encouraged radio to do more, to follow the example of leading station clusters, to train sales forces to show advertisers what they can do with digital. "Radio sales forces could be the perfect solution," said Borrell, "if they were trained properly."

You can watch Borrell's POV -- and nearly every other presentation and panel from RAIN Summit West 2012 -- from RTT News here.

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