They had the insight early on to know how important human curation is. That technology by itself wasn’t enough — that it was the marriage of the two that would really be great and produce a feeling in people that we want to produce. – Tim Cook explaining why Apple acquired Beats Music.
Apple has purchased Beats and Google is reportedly in talks to acquire Songza with the intent to enhance their music services with curated playlists chosen by programmers as opposed to just their algorithms. Sound familiar? This is the model that radio has used for decades.
Meanwhile our industry is heading into the other direction. Station playlists are increasingly selected out of the corporate office with what the major record labels are pushing with little regard for trying to break new artists or under the radars musicians. How can a programmer take the time to make their stations unique when he has to program a full cluster of stations and oversee a few other markets, while receiving oversight from different levels of programmers and consultants?
With a few exceptions who refuse to stream, every local brand can also be a national brand. Spotlight the unique stations and programs in your cluster and give them national promotion online. You won’t make as much money online nationally as you will locally but that will increase over time as you promote and make the content available. The programmers can be every bit a star as your morning show. So can a weekend specialty show. Why let Apple, Google, and Spotify steal even more of your audience?