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Digital radio is where it's at

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SINGAPORE: Looks like it's time for traditional radio stations in India to pull up their socks, as digital and internet radio is already being lapped up by about 50 million music lovers across the world.

Not just that, but new ways of accessing music, (via wireless and Internet) has brought in a paradigm shift in the functioning of the traditional audio medium...

Just a quick dekko at some facts and sweeping changes. With Podcasting gaining ground, interactive and savvy consumers are creating their own customized radio stations online. We already have have more than 40,000 radio stations podcasting live; which is a disturbing fact considering that there are only 30,000 traditional radio stations across the world. Also, the success of sites like myspace.com have gone on to show that social networking sites will become more important for selling music as compared to TV or Radio.

Media futurist, & ThinkAndLink, CEO, Gerd Leonhard dwelled at length on the future of radio yesterday, the last day of Broadcst Asia. Addressing a packed audience of professionals from across the world, Leonhard said, "Digital & internet radio is now big in countries like UK, Japan, Korea, Scandinavia and very soon it's going to catch on across the world. Traditional radio companies have to accept this and move ahead with the changes."

He further added, "The radio industry is touted to be roughly around $ 50 billion a year, constituting around 15 per cent of total advertising revenues. Now, this pie is going to be further fragmented and shared by mobile companies, and even companies like Apple, Google; even mobile companies as well as wireless companies. What has now emerged is that content owners will not hold distribution rights to their content anymore, so the only thing is to accept this and try to monetize from this. So, one will see a a new type of advertising which will be the revenue driver along with the content.

Some relevant data which emerged from the session was that myspace.com, which currently has 28 billion page views, seems to be more important tpo advertisers than even a heavy rotation on MTV. Also, to listen to music, it's the always with you/always on devices that are critical (2 billion mobile users, coupled with 50 million ipods). 

When queried on his views on the Indian radio market, Leonhard said that, India along with China, and some untapped markets in Africa and Middle East will lead the rapid growth.

Also, with the mobile and technology revolution sweeping India, the rates will fall further and people will access digital radio sooner than even other parts of the world.

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