The SF MusicTech conference brings together the most progressive, innovative minds in the tech and music industries across the world, from label heads to journalists to start-up masterminds. We all still know from this study that radio is still vastly important and influential, but like all things, it must evolve to remain that way.
Ezra Kucharz, CBS’ President of Local Digital Media, presented the direction in which stations like Alice are heading, and how the integration of visuals online will change everything about the way we listen to music.
1. Digital media and Broadcast media belong together.
Kucharz believes that the integration of digital and broadcast (or, sight and sound) make for a better overall experience. We don’t like to just hear Sarah and Vinnie talking about people getting handlifts, we want to see their expressions. “Images are powerful,” as Kucharz says, and people want to experience music in a visual way now more than ever before.
2. Online streaming platforms and AM/FM Radio can co-exist.
One of the big questions of the conference asked how broadcast radio and online radio can both work in the modern digital age. Kucharz believes they already do: “It’s a winding road where everyone works together.” Platforms like Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio stream music through your speakers via a technologically created algorithm—not a thoughtfully pieced together song collection. Radio teams, on the other hand, source and search for the best in music, and craft the perfect playlist of songs you want to hear. “It’s not us or them,” Kucharz stated. “It’s essentially [the difference between] an algorithm and curation.”
3. Radio’s new integrative approach is always looking for what’s next.
Like Us the Duo, the couple who became famous for their 6 second song covers on the Twitter-owned platform Vine, CBS is looking towards the cutting-edge future of music in applications that marry the visual with the music.
4. CBS Radio is rolling out more in-depth, immersive sports coverage.
These days, radio isn’t just about music—it’s about life. CBS’ digital and mobile pages will soon be amping up their sports coverage in ways that will give football, baseball, basketball fans and the like a literal chance for their voice to be heard. From Inside Radio (and as presented by Kucharz):
Ten Seconds of Glory, the digital equivalent of the comment line, lets listeners answer a question from a host on their phone and then send the audio to the show producer to be played on air. A separate app feature that lets listeners thumb-up or thumb-down interviews and topics will provide a fast read on how a guest or subject is being received by the audience.
Pissed off about last night’s game-losing interception? Now you can actually voice your pain!
5. The next big step for music and digital is live show streaming.
The question on everyone’s mind this year at MusicTech was one that Kucharz posed: “What’s the model to take [events] to people who aren’t in the venue?” As much as sites would love to bring you live streams of shows, it’s a tall order—but it’s one worth delivering on. It’s as much about the shared experience you might have watching a show with a friend as it is about being as present as possible even when you can’t be there in person. And most importantly, as Kucharz says, “You have to marry sight and sound.”