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The Future of Radio

As services such as Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody and other alternatives to listen to our favorite music continue to become more popular it seems the days of radio as we know it are numbered. We still listen to broadcast radio because our cars aren’t connected to the internet yet, but over the next few years we will begin to see this as a built in feature. There is a real business opportunity to create an online radio station that streams local news and music 24 hours a day. Websites streaming content can focus at the local level and would require the same music licenses that radio stations purchase.

Many local radio stations already offer a live stream through Clear Channel’s, I Heart Radio.  Since most of us listen to music on our smartphones and internet connected ipods already, an exclusive online radio station streaming news and music around the clock is something that could be profitable now. Most of us have auxiliary ports in our cars that we connect to and enjoy music from our phones. There is nothing wrong with traditional radio stations but as technology continues to evolve we will soon begin consuming all our news and entertainment online.

There are already several popular webisodes or podcasts that are produced on a regular basis and enjoyed by thousands. Most webisodes though focus on a very specific niche instead of a geographical area like most radio stations. I listen to some internet marketing webcasts on Geekcast.fm for example.

Since webcasting new content 24 hours a day can get expensive very quickly perhaps the first step would be to produce a daily hour or two hour show that focuses on news in your city. While a full fledged 24 hour a day webcast could be successful it would require an investor with lots of cash. It would also take several months to build a steady following on this new medium and a few years just to break even while advertisers are convinced this is the best way to reach their audience. If this type of budget isn’t accessible you may want to produce a short daily webisode focusing on your local market.

There are advantages and disadvantages of being the first company in a new industry. The first companies always have the expense of educating the market and testing the waters. In this case an online webcast network would have to educate and convince people that this a better way to be informed and entertained. The earliest consumers would obviously be a younger demographic, so music and news would need to be targeted to them. The advantage of being one of the first players in the market is it’s always much more difficult for your late coming competitors to prove to customers and/or users they are better.

Radio will still be around for a few years because besides just listening to music people hear the radio to find out what’s going on in their local communities. It’s also a free way to listen to music if you’d rather listen to ads then pay for subscription services to Pandora, Rdio, Spotify, Rhapsody or other companies like them. If you hope to replace the radio with your own webcast network on a smaller budget focus your content on your city, offer the webisodes free of charge and subsidize the cost of production and/or music licensing through advertisements. Then little by little perhaps you can ramp up production to stream music and news 24 hours a day in your city and others around the United States and internationally.

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