So goes the saying at UM101 Radio at my alma mater, the University of Manitoba.
Most College radio stations play some of the hits. What is or is not a “hit” depends on who you talk to. At UMFM “the hits” means the songs being played on commercial radio for today’s teenagers. The teenagers could rightfully refute this: UMFM plays the hits as well… the hits for students at the University. The bottom line: they are just different playlists. That’s the beauty of today’s music versus the music rotations of 20 years ago. More variety. One analyst stated that we’ve gone from a catalog of the “Top 20” to the “Top 2000”. He rightfully credits the Internet with smashing artificial limits to the number of options. Consumers drove this revolution. One result is that today, even commercial radio offers more variety than ever before. It was “open the catalog or die.” Really.
The beauty of today’s digital music store is the size of the catalog. Over 1.5 million songs means you are in a larger music store than any physical store you’ve previously visited. The available catalog is already wide, and deep, and expanding. So whether you like Old School Hip Hop, Contemporary Christian, Smooth Jazz, or Celtic music, the digital music store has a rich menu of choices.
One audience that appreciates this variety is the relocated foreigner. As a Canadian, I love that I can get more access to Canadian music artists even though I now call Tennessee home. Likewise, the selection for people from India, Latin America, and everywhere else is increasing every day.
As satellite radio moves closer to the mainstream from the innovative edge, XM and Sirius have opened up hundreds of channels. I recently took a road trip with my satellite radio. After a few days on the road I had heard the full extent of the playlist rotation on my favorite satellite stations. Satellite radio today is not much better than my favorite commercial radio stations. And even though they claim to run no or few commercials, that simply meant the advertising was all “house ads:” station promos for other channels and offers on the satellite network. I sometimes chose commercial radio as a break from the satellite radio stations. At least the ads had more variety.
We’re making progress. We still have a ways to go. Many think HD Radio will solve the issues noted above. Maybe. I truly believe the only way radio or any medium or format will continue to evolve and please consumers is to let the consumers speak. Loudly. And give them what they want. The Internet makes it easy to express your opinion. In the coming months and years we will see our options continue to increase. But the Internet offers new possibilities far beyond the capability of broadcast radio of any type. More on that in the next writing…