Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Music to Their Ears

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Music to Their Ears

Article excerpt

The internet has given record companies and artists new ways in which to reach their audience.

There was a time when the future of media was bobbing on the North Sea, feeling unwell and harassed by the GPO and the men from the ministry.

Pirate radio stations sprang up in the 60s to cater not just for an audience that was ignored by the BBC, but for advertisers that could reach the UK only via Radio Luxembourg. By 1968, there were more than 20 pirate stations here, attracting more than 10m listeners. The government simply couldn't ignore their popularity and, 27 years ago this week, finally opened up the sector to commercial exploitation.

However, for years the authorities strictly controlled the number of licences made available, ensuring that the cost of being legal remained high. So, despite the new commercial freedom, the pirate sector continued to grow; even today, an estimated 150 unlicensed stations broadcast in the UK.

The Radio Advertising Bureau thinks the internet has provided a boost for radio. Not only can you get thousands of radio stations online, as it points out, radio and web usage often coincide.

Nevertheless, radio isn't just about audiences and advertisers. For the music industry, it has been a vital marketing tool, providing exposure for its artists while paying them for the privilege. Although the music video might have eclipsed radio as the most prominent marketing tool in the 80s, radio has continued to be the place where bands are broken and careers made.

So, with all the disruption in the music industry brought about by the rise of the internet, it should come as no surprise that one of its key channel partners is also set for disruption.

The digital age has slashed production costs across TV, print and radio, but the biggest impact is on the cost of reaching audiences. With no licence costs, Ofcom oversight, or transmission overheads, the internet has opened up the market to a different kind of operation, and created an opportunity that is being sought by artists and labels to reach audiences that radio isn't able to.

UKF Music is a leading forum for two genres, dubstep and drum 'n' bass Its sites, together with its YouTube channels and Facebook pages, get more than 11m views a month - quite an achievement, especially since most of its YouTube content is audio only.

With the sort of cost structures we've come to expect from the blogging community, UKF's advertising revenue more than covers its business costs, while promotional deals with record companies and artists combine with download sales to make sites profitable. …

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