Royalty Fairness, Out-Da-Box Websites, and All Your Radio Speakers

In this edition of the CMD weekly newsletter, potential upcoming changes in online royalties, a radio website that has nothing to do with radio, all the different kinds of radio speakers you have, and more.


It’s far from being law yet, but two congressmen and a senator introduced a bill called the Radio Fairness Act.  This bill would bring royalty payments for online music into line with what broadcasters pay now.  What broadcasters pay for over-the-air music, that is. There are plenty of radio broadcasters who are dealing with the cruel injustice of being successful with online radio.  The more people listen, the more you have to pay.

I predict this will lead to some pretty major changes in our industry.  Once … knock on wood … this bill becomes law, digital revenue should become even more important to radio station.  After all, this frees up the need to budget large amounts to pay for online royalties.  With the online audience growing like a weed, and fewer costs to play in the digital world, this should help our streams really be the growth property that they can be.

Meanwhile, all those pure-web music choices like Pandora and Spotify and Apple’s coming digital radio … this decision alone could help drive them from having marginal business plans to being profitable.  There’s a potential speed bump there for radio.  I would not be surprised if Pandora wanted to get a hold of local broadcast signals to put some of their curated content on.  It might not even be music; there’s probably a way that they could program a locally focused news or news/talk station based on their fans’ votes about what’s important to them.  I don’t have any evidence of that; it’s just been a gut feeling of mine.  They could create stations that are both terrestrial and digital and do so without the baggage and outdated practices that many established radio stations have.

Meanwhile, what would really be great about this for radio is if a renewed focus on maximizing digital revenue led to a widespread attitude that our streams are as worthy of good programming as our broadcasts.


Go to the head of the class, Cox Media Group Connecticut!  Creating the new shows a knowledge and flexibility about the digital world that many radio folks don’t have yet. is about pop culture, topical happenings and local things to do.  I get the impression that this new site is one that the Cox stations in Connecticut can all refer to and send listeners to.

It’s a lot easier to start a website than a radio station.  Getting a frequency to transmit on and then getting the site and equipment to do so is a really big deal.  Starting a website is more like producing a radio spot than starting a radio station.  I suspect that is a solid idea, if they get their listening fans to go to this site to use it and enjoy the content … and see the ads that Cox sells.

Rather than put tons of varied content and apps at your station’s website … much of which may not be related to your prime focus on the radio … you can create satellite sites that make sense to send your listeners to.  Some ideas:

  • A special site for your Facebook fans and email recipients that tells people in detail all the stuff you have coming up that you haven’t talked about on the air yet.  They’d need a password to enter the site that they could get from Facebook, Twitter, or your database emails or texts.
  • For a category that your sales manager wants to focus on … create a special website on that topic.  You can steer your listeners there, which will make it attractive to sell advertising to all the merchants in that category in your market.
  • I’ve criticized those “hot babe” galleries at both rock and talk station websites. But if you want to get those web hits, why not create a separate site for them? You could fill a need of having attractive women in a safe-for-work environment. Betcha you could use it to steer lots of guys back to your website or station, and sell advertising to every business in town that targets men.

What can you think of that would work for you?


Here’s a way to think about all the digital stuff you’re doing.  That would include your website, your stream(s), your social media, your texts, and your database emails.

1. Your broadcast. 2. Your stream. 3. Your website. 4. Your Facebook page. 5. Your Twitter feed. 6. Your database emails. 7. Your texting. 8. Your appearances. 9. Your HD channel.

Think of them all as different types of radio speakers.

When you listen to your radio station on the air, I’ll bet you’re always judging if what’s on fits what listeners are expecting, and if it’s being done well.  You may not even be conscious of those thoughts all the time, but you’re constantly evaluating your own brand.

Well, the same thing applies to all the other things you do:

  • When you think about how to cover commercial breaks on your stream …
  • When you write another email to your listeners …
  • When you create posts for Facebook or Twitter …
  • When you add content or new features to your website …
  • When you send out texts to those who sign up for them …

You execute them differently from a radio broadcast, but you can apply the same mental test to them that you do when you’re listening to your broadcast.  That’ll help you jump start your ability to move your fans from platform to platform to platform.


That’s the topic of my latest piece for, which you can read here.  The steps?  Build for it, commit to it, train for it.


The digital media world moves very fast, and I keep you up on the news I find that might make you even smarter at your job than you already are.  So Like me now!


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