[MxM Radiol]: 5 reasons why internet radio scores over traditional radio

10 Feb,2012

By Anil Srivatsa


1. Internet radio offers more room:

The main difference that triggers all other differences between Internet radio and FM radio is the platform itself. The Internet lends more room for flexibility, cost saving and personalization.


2. Internet Radio offers a variety of choices in comparison to FM radio:

This is true, particularly in the Indian context. FM stations tend to follow the beaten path for a variety of reasons, but to the consumer it just spells ‘boredom and monotony’. Radio can be classified broadly into mass radio and niche radio.


InIndia, mass radio is pretty much the order of the day, but it leaves a lot of content-hungry people dissatisfied. Niche radio does not justify the investment from a business point of view, but presents a vibrant opportunity to internet radio operators, who for a lot less money can create and serve these niche content seekers with better quality content in a variety of genres.


3. Content on Internet radio is more personalized; FM radio caters to collective choices of masses:

Internet radio is more amenable to personalization at a micro-listener level, with the choice of content being delivered with accuracy according to the taste of the consumer, while FM radio is not as hospitable.


Of course, Internet radio is a loosely used term that could mean content delivered via the Internet in a linear fashion (non-interactive just like FM) or as an on-demand service (interactive). Linear Internet radio makes available several choices of content differentiation in one place while FM radio is devoid of choice and is, within a specific urban or semi-urban dwelling, limited to the number of frequencies in that region. This makes Internet radio more interesting choice.


4. The ability to influence opinion on topics and issues on a wider scale:

FM inIndiagenerally reaches out to the least common denominator while throwing up some specific content catering to special interest. This generally happens when the channel is omni-present in that geographical location, which makes Internet radio look even more obscure. But in reality, Internet radio’s reach is well beyond what a single FM station can do with one channel, giving the flavour of programming more room to breathe and giving it the possibility of more substance and depth.


However, nothing can compete with FM for super localization en masse …even if one can create and distribute a super local internet radio station.


5. Internet radio offers broader spectrum of artists and more room to showcase talent:

Historically NAB, who was then the lobby for AM radio operators, perceived FM radio to be a huge business threat. Today they have embraced it (FM) and are now perceiving the same threat coming from internet radio. Traditionally, on either side of theAtlantic, FM radio is in cahoots with the music labels where there is a carefully orchestrated promotion plan for the labels, sidelining air play for the unsigned bands leaving FM playing the same 20 top of the hour.


InIndia, too, things are not very different. Large market-leading labels restrict FM radio to play more of their music to ensure constant promotion in exchange for favourable licensing terms resulting in the same disenfranchisement on un-signed quality content. This goes against free speech and violates the anti-competitive spirit of equal opportunity to succeed in business. So, both, from a business and talent perspective, Internet radio is totally unrestricted, allowing small label artists to showcase their talent in all kinds of music and non-music content and without gate keepers.


Labels today see Internet radio as a threat but in reality it’s an opportunity to discover new talent, promote unconditionally and widen their repertoire. Given the right environment, FM radio would rebroadcast on the Internet in a heartbeat and this in itself tells the whole story.


Mr Anil Srivatsa is the Co-Founder, CEO Venturenet Partners Pvt. Ltd. (promoters of Spot Radio and Radiowalla)


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