Streaming radio station’s audio on an ad-driven website?

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LinkedIn member, Kelley Boster, Owner at Corporate Promotions & Incentives LLC. asked a compelling question through the LinkedIn Answers section.

Would Radio Stations allow their streaming to be accessed on other websites?

I have a Client who’s primary product is website advertising and we would like to see if we can add the “sound” dimension by partnering with a radio station with a matching demographic that offers “streaming” through their website? Would radio stations be open to this idea to allow streaming through another website that is not their own? What would the obstacles and/or objections be to this suggestion?

In dealing with potential radio content partnership, it is key to realize that a radio station’s revenue model is advertising as well. Radio ad sales have not been doing all that well, considering the current economy. Most radio stations build custom “player” interfaces that allow them to sell banner ad space to online listeners. So, I don’t see how any logical radio station would give up their revenue “inventory.” Also, while most radio stations are not making their bread & butter from online ad revenue, they do use online ad inventory to “sweeten” the deals for traditional radio advertising. I worked for a website property of a major radio conglomerate, and we would regularly have to display ads for “radio” customers (while not really seeing any revenue for it).

But, here are some thoughts to consider:

1. Independent or locally owned radio stations who might not yet have an online stream may be open to letting you make money of it, assuming you pay for the cost of the stream.

2. Stations already online may consider sharing revenue (50/50, 40/60, etc.) if you make it worth it. What can you offer the radio station that they don’t have already?

3. How about recording the radio shows, and offering them as “podcasts” or on-demand streaming, as opposed to “live.” The radio station gets a “secondary” market (through shared revenue) they probably would not have otherwise (most are not yet into podcasting as they see it as competition) while your website does not eat into their live radio audience. You could also arrange it so the radio station website can also provide the podcasts to their users directly.

The radio industry is an “old fashioned” industry, and from my experience, they are being slow to adapt and jump into the online world. When they do–and many radio/media companies are–they tend to have old fashioned radio industry mindset about how to do things, and revenue sharing and open-source are usually not included in there. Its a tough industry, so you’re going to have to be real creative in proving you can offer something of worth to their listeners and to their bottom line.

Below I provide a link to my previous employer’s web property. It is a very good model of the sharing of audience between radio and a website. Notice that several of Salem’s major radio hosts are bloggers who provide content on the website. They also regularly mention the website in their daily live radio shows. In exchange, the top 5 radio hosts get prime placement on the website, with direct links to the show websites and prime advertising of the radio host’s books. In this case, though, both the website property and the radio network are both owned by the same parent company, enabling the “innovation” leaders to “force” the change needed to make this work.

I’ve also posted below 2 links to an Economist set of articles on the convergence of old media with new media. Since you are in the web world, a lot will make sense to you, but you should read it from the point of view of what it communicates about the radio and traditional media industry. It is revealing of how far behind they have been and may be insightful into figuring out a model that will be tempting to your potential radio station partners. The first link is to the whole set of articles. The second Economist link is to the article on podcasting and radio.

Here are some articles and reference links that might be worth checking out in reference to the above:

Links:

* http://www.townhall.com
* http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=6794156
* http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=6794210

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