Broadcast & Satellite

What Indie Musicians Can Learn From Efforts To Rescue Radio

Doc-searlsDoc Searls is known for his insights into business and the web dating back even further than "The Cluetrain Manifesto." His recent post, "How to rescue radio," includes a detailed series of suggestions for radio stations, networks and chains, for app developers, for equipment makers and for "everybody." The suggestions range from technical specifics to nuggets of business strategy and they reveal certain themes that indie musicians will find worth applying in their own business activities.

I primarily know Doc Searls for his participation in writing the classic work about the web and business "The Cluetrain Manifesto." In particular, he coauthored the chapter "Markets Are Conversations" which is really interesting to check back in on as the web and marketing change.

Recently Searls shared an action plan titled "How to rescue radio" that included points that are particularly relevant for the music industry, especially indie musicians, beyond the topic of radio:

Doc Searls on Rescuing Radio

"Have truly unique programming. If you’re running what dozens or hundreds of other stations are running, you’re just a relay."

"Recognize that the Net does not belong to the cable and phone companies but to nobody, which is why it covers the world. Think of it as a world of ends (where every audio source and every listener is a separate end), and NEA — nobody owns it, everybody can use it, and anybody can improve it. Including you."

"Ease the experience of listening, and recording (like with, across everything possible. I know this isn’t easy, because chains like Clear Channel (with its iHeartRadio) and the BBC like to limit listening within their app to their own stations. But this isn’t what most listeners want."

"Work toward a single easy non-proprietary way to support subscription services (such as SiriusXM) and volunteer-pay services, (such as public radio stations in the U.S). Everybody with that model will make more money, much more easily, if the process isn’t different for every station, every network, every service."

"Quit making shitty radios."

"Make radios that hunt easily from over the air analog to HD Radio to streams on the Net."

"Think in terms of relationships, and not just listeners. This is essential because listeners have communication power now too…This isn’t easy, because the grooves of one-way-one-to-many non-relating are nearly a century deep. But those who relate best will win biggest."

Key Takeaways for Musicians

Make unique, high quality music.

Embrace, support and benefit from the Internet as an open playing field.

Make it easy for your fans to access and support your music online.

Think relationships, not just fan numbers.

I discovered Doc Searls's post via RAIN News: "A conversation with Doc Searls on the future of radio."

[Thumbnail image of Doc Searls via Wikipedia.]


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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1 Comment

  1. Well as someone who owns a radio directory online I can also add that radio stations should work on their online presence much more. They should produce more podcast, with detailed descriptions in order to “capture” the best of their shows and freeze them in time. In other words they should learn online marketing and use it’s techniques in order to compete with other sources of information online.

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