Your Station Anywhere — How Might This Tagline Change Your Radio Future?

Finding the right motto or tagline is tougher than we imagined. We had to struggle to distill our message into as few words as possible, yet convey the essence of what makes Backbone Radio unique.  Our previous tagline was “Internet Radio Simplified”. That expression was correct, but it didn’t tell people how radio can be great again.

Backbone Networks - Your Station AnywhereWe like our new tagline better, because it concisely says what we provide: freedom and power. How’s that? Let’s examine the tagline to see what we mean, starting with the noun.

STATION
Backbone creates Internet radio stations. We aren’t in the business of producing “shows” or time slots on existing radio stations.  A station is a 24/7, round-the-clock entity, and it always has programs running no matter when a listener tunes in.  Maybe listeners will find your station on your station’s website and listen there; maybe on an Internet tuner like TuneIniTunes or dar.fm. Maybe on their laptop, desktop, iPhone or Android, or any of hundreds of devices like Roku or their car’s digital dashboard.

The station is what listeners search for. A program or show is what’s playing when they find your station.  So, your station could include your show, your choice of PSA’s or none at all, shows contributed by your esteemed colleagues or best friends, shows contributed by people who pay you to air them, or any other audio content you choose. That is the importance of the word YOUR.

YOUR
In traditional over-the-air (OTA) radio, your job is at the will of someone else. Ultimately, that other person is the OTA station owner.  He chooses who to hire and who to fire based on fundamental economics, the same way he makes decisions about transmitter maintenance and janitorial services. Your job is always on the line.

You UsYou prove your value by bringing in listeners and creating a following, which in turn brings in revenue from sponsors and advertisers. Your value has to pay for your salary plus millions of dollars worth of annual station operating costs.

Imagine for a moment that you converted that value to a station that had no existing overhead burden; you retain your following, your loyal sponsors and you build your own station.  You are the station owner, and you call the shots.  This is now YOUR station, so where do you put it?

ANYWHERE
This is the key word. Anywhere.  The power of radio has always been its ability to connect with people at a very personal level.  Want to cover a concert or conference, broadcast an interview from the mayor’s office, or do your show from Cancun? You have the freedom to pick up and go out into the community where things are happening making your radio station more personal.

Obviously, you will need some overhead, but how much?  Well, for starters, on the Internet you don’t have to build a tower, so no requirement for real estate, not to mention permission from the FCC, FAA or any other government bureau.  And you don’t have to sit in the same old studio day after day. You are free to take your studio with you…anywhere.

Liz Claiborne Radio RowBecause your Backbone Radio station resides “in the cloud”, your live studio can simply be “a Mac and a mic”, plus maybe a small mixer, in your backpack. As long as you can find an Internet connection (WiFi, 3G/4G, WiMax or other) you can be broadcasting live. Your other hosts for your other shows can similarly go live from their Macbooks from wherever they are at the time.

And since your archived programs and audio, syndicated content, and a very powerful automation system also reside in your station in the cloud, just stop your live broadcast session, and your automated program schedule takes over. Your studio is wherever you are, and your station is always on the air.

So, that’s it in a nutshell. YOUR STATION ANYWHERE.  It is a complete radio station, you are in control, and you are free to take it wherever you want without limitation. Now you know what we meant by our tagline and how Backbone is changing radio forever.

Broadcasting the SF Music Tech Summit

sfmusictech2012Today is the SF MusicTech Summit.  It brings together visionaries in the evolving music, business and technology ecosystem, along with the best and brightest developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians, and organizations who work with them at the convergence of culture and commerce. We meet to do business and discuss, in a proactive, conducive to dealmaking environment.

While Backbone will not physically be there we are working with our friends at TuneIn to “webcast” the event.  Before the event starts we are playing audio from previous events and will switch to live programming when the sessions start.

The event has three tracks and we will be broadcasting all three tracks.  If you want to learn about the how music, technology and business come together TuneIn to this event.

IBS Student Radio Network underwriting opportunities

IBS LogoOver the years many of the members of the IBS Student Radio Network have asked about finding sponsors and underwriters for their shows, segments and stations.  This week we are launching a pilot program to work with some of the schools in finding underwriters and sponsors.

In the last year our stations have taken well over 1M listener connections.  As the school year progressed the audience engagement increased by over 50% as measured by the average length of a listener session.  Clearly the efforts of the schools to promote their stations and streams is making an impact.

Building off the success of the live events Backbone helped to power over the summer, from the HOT 97 Summer Jam in New York, to the Outside Lands in San Francisco to the recently concluded Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, we will start this year off with a bang by broadcasting the Jamaica Plain Music Fest on the Simmons and Emmanuel College station streams.  These streams are available in the TuneIn tuner.  For this weekend they will be at the top of the college radio section as a sponsored link.

The college demographic is clearly a target that sponsors and underwriters would like to reach.  What better way than through the campus taste makers of the college radio stations.  If you are interested in being a sponsor or underwriter please contact us at underwriting@studentradionetwork.org.

Internet Radio Concert Promotion — 100,000 more attendees, no extra porta-potties

Eighteen years ago this week, in a previous life, George and I helped produce and broadcast Woodstock ’94 (Mudstock), and it was quite an experience, with 350,000 people in attendance. This week, we got to participate in another weekend concert, Outside Lands in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and I marvel at how differently big events can now be covered.

outsidelands logoAt Woodstock, we had dozens of television trucks and vans with satellite uplinks, requiring connectivity to and between the two stages, which was our primary responsibility as “fiber optic gurus”. For the most part, all of these broadcasters were on site to provide live news feeds for networks and local stations, as well as the occasional celebrity interview.  The complexity and cost was huge, while virtually none of the concert entertainment was broadcast live.

Outside Lands Stage - 2012Fast forward to 2012.  Over the last few months, in partnership with TuneIn, we’ve enjoyed exploring how today’s music festivals can build their reach to a worldwide audience, without breaking the budget of the event promoters.  We started out with New York’s Hot 97 Summer Jam hip hop festival in June, helping Emmis Communications promote the event exclusively on TuneIn radio the week leading up to the concert, then live Internet radio coverage of the show, and then best-of the concert the week following.  It was a major hit.

So, with that success, Emmis decided to do similar promotion for their Power 106 concert in Los Angeles later that month. It, too, was a big success.

That brings us to Outside Lands–August 10-12, 2012.  TuneIn assembled the team for this broadcast, with not only Backbone Networks but also a professional broadcast team with deep experience in branded radio stations, RFC Media from Houston, TX.  Unlike Woodstock, this concert was broadcast live, and it required no trucks, no satellite uplinks and a minimal crew…all with just “a Mac and a mic”.RFC Media Tent - Outside Lands

Results?  It was unquestionably another big success.  While Golden Gate park only holds about 65,000 people for an event like this, through Backbone Internet radio and TuneIn, over 100,000 unique listeners around the world tuned in for nearly half a million listener sessions.  What amazes me is that a regional concert in San Francisco can pull listeners from all over the world, as you can see in the listener cluster “hot spot” map for the concert week (click to enlarge).

Outside Lands Listener MapLike every other business activity, concert promotion has now been changed by the Internet, specifically Internet radio in this case. Going forward, we will learn even more about how to have the greatest impact and highest return on a very small investment.  We’ll share that with you.

Next up for TuneIn, RFC Media and Backbone: The Bumbershoot Music Festival in Seattle on Labor Day Weekend.

Peace, love and radio.

Now for the Live Remote – A Huge Concert, Free on the Internet

Last week we told you about the launch of New York’s Hot 97 Summer Jam Internet-only radio station, promoting the upcoming, annual Summer Jam concert this Sunday, June 3rd.  Well, TuneIn and Emmis Communications just revealed that for the first time ever the concert itself will be broadcast free from the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to the world, exclusively on this same TuneIn station.

As you’ve probably figured out, Hot 97’s Summer Jam station, including all Internet radio broadcast and production, is supplied by Backbone Networks, using Backbone’s unique cloud-based broadcast and automation infrastructure.  The broadcast-from-anywhere, “live remote” capability of Backbone’s infrastructure is what enables professional broadcasters to simplify their event-based Internet radio production, using equipment as basic as “a Mac and a mic”.

The TuneIn connection is what makes a station like this so easy to find and far reaching. “TuneIn takes people places. This collaboration with HOT 97 speaks to the power of TuneIn to expand unique experiences like Summer Jam to wider audiences, taking people to events and places in ways that were never before possible,” said John Donham, CEO of TuneIn. “It is very fitting that HOT 97, one of the few truly global U.S. radio brands, team up with TuneIn to bring HOT 97’s Summer Jam to people all over the planet! We are delighted to be able to do so,” added Rick Cummings, President Programming, Emmis Communications.

Hot97 Summer JamThe Hot 97 Summer Jam 2012 concert kicks off at 7pm EST, with the Festival Village stage beginning at 2pm on Sunday (June 3).

Fans can access the free channel on TuneIn by searching “Summer Jam” on any of the 150 TuneIn platforms including smartphones apps, connected vehicle dashboards, Internet home entertainment systems and online at TuneIn.com.

TuneIn Creates Internet Radio Channel For Hot 97 Summer Jam

HOT97-Summer-2012Congratulations to our partner TuneIn and Emmis Communications on the successful launch of their Internet only HOT 97 Summer Jam station in New York City.  Radio Ink mentions that the new channel will feature uncensored and uninterrupted music from from event headliners, including; Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross and Trey Songz. Listeners will also hear archived performances from past Summer Jams.

TuneIn, a free service that lets people listen to music, sports and news from all over the world, has partnered with the #1 station for hip hop and R&B in the tri-state area, WQHT-FM, “HOT 97” to create a first-of-its-kind station, showcasing the world’s premier hip hop festival, HOT 97 Summer Jam. For the first time, fans can experience nearly two decades of HOT 97’s Summer Jam from anywhere in the world, on any of the 150 devices and apps which carry the TuneIn service.

This collaboration enables HOT 97 to expand the content it distributes to hip hop fans and illustrates how broadcasters are using the TuneIn platform to distribute programming which can help expand their over-the-air brand.  The radio industry is rapidly transitioning to digital formats, and traditional radio stations are working quickly to adapt and compete in an evolving streaming and digital landscape.

We expect that this will be come a new model for traditional terrestrial stations to follow extending their programming within their community and enabling them to be heard anywhere, without restrictions or boundaries.

Your Internet Radio Station’s Reach Just Expanded, Now What?

TuneIn logo whiteThe reach of Backbone Internet radio stations keeps growing, and today there’s another way for your audience to find yours.  Yesterday, TuneIn announced that their powerful “TuneIn application will be featured prominently in T-Mobile’s Music Hub, which is part of the T-Mobile(R) Mall, a digital storefront available as a free download in Google Play.”

As Mark Ramsey said in a recent blog, Is Radio Losing “The War of Attention”:

Radio’s challenge is not to adapt its legacy technology for new devices, since this requires consumers to demand those devices because of that technology (look how well that worked for those HD table radios).  Its challenge is to create content that demands attention and nurture that attention across platforms and devices where consumers already spend their time.

With over 150 different devices, including new car radios, carrying your station via TuneIn, its small wonder that Internet radio listenership is growing at a rate of 50% annually. Clearly, they will be able to find you, now it’s your challenge to hold their attention and keep them listening. And the only way you can do that is with compelling content.  Be different and be heard.