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Read this: Radio takes on the tech giants

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Radio takes on the tech giants…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hi I'm dancing and this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 hello we are talking radiotoday good old-fashioned radio with it's cosy celebrity presenters.

It's familiar blend of pop songs but also let's face it traffic updates car insurance ads No Angels and if you don't like it well.

You'll just have to wait for those bits to be over or will you because one of the UK's commercial radio boots is launching ad-free version of their stations put a monthly fee is this radio Secret Weapon to defeat Spotify on the streaming services.

That's one of the big questions the Paul Keenan who is president of audio at Bauer what is in charge of a whole host of stations such as magic kiss absolute Scarlet and many many many others support you can't have to you.

Can't have the time to listen to all of them every morning.

So do you very the clocks?

Do you just compromise and listen to the Today programme you can be honest friends as well, so the country's most recently the Republic of Ireland and everywhere.

We we are we find the radio as a medium as it is during and growing automatic answer.

You're not you're not naming one but also with us today are Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle presenters of the late-night alternative Ian for those who aren't familiar.

How would you describe the program is a surreal psychedelic phone-in show where instead of stirring hate and pointing out others that look and sound different and saying hate them.

We celebrate life and art and I'm just to be difficult you actually not on late at night anymore.

You're actually on in the morning.

We decided to mix it up because now her own bosses and we can.

Yeah, so you started out on talk radio and then you took it to twitch the video streaming platform.

Have a going to here later on in the show how you've now gone direct-to-consumer.

You're selling it to fans base write on patreon.

So they pay us directly and we give them different things for different tiers of money and also joining us on today's programme is my European tech correspondent for the Financial Times and each want a strategy and research director at Ofcom because we're going to start the Show by looking at how the pandemic has charged some of the trends.

We've been seeing in Media in digital media in particular, so eat on you've published a report today for Ofcom looking at our changing online habits who's been the big winners for like 1st of that the UK was already well on its way to being an online donation for the pandemic has really accelerated migration to online services.

Other European countries the amount of time we spent online during lockdown with everything from shopping socialising culture working entertainment swimming online, but you've found that out of the third like on the 3rd of time spent online was just on things like Google and Facebook there's a lot of time spent on some of those major platforms, but are the mixture of I thought was quite striking that was a 92% of 3 and 4-year olds are using sites like YouTube and tiktok tiktok has been used success during the pandemic going from 3 million beforehand to 40 million and March and Maddie I mean tiktok is still kind of a New Kid On The Block right and yet the platforms are keeping watch very closely so I noticed this week YouTube's rolled out their own version of tiktok over the last you know.

02 in the short video of smacking video space as people call it and you know everybody's trying to jump on that bandwagon now, even though it wasn't necessary the first to do it, so yeah me too bad lunch shorts in a few market and that will try to take a picture on but it's not you know Charlie the only one Instagram has real Snapchat has its own and in India YouTube was launched shorts.

It was the first market.

Where was launched in India has like five or six different competitors for short videos.

So this is this is definitely an exploding just copying each other basically, what's what's a new in innovative about that? Yeah, I mean it's tiktok itself was an innovative in terms of other as a video type in there was a wine before it and you know short video it.

It's not a radical Concepts that but I think partly you know the pandemic has helped.

Because it's just the rights of format to be sitting around at home and skipping through multiple videos and but it's also just a different type of platform to bring in creators and other way YouTube that you know if you're a creator who can't maybe create an entire 10-minute video which is quite clear.

Can I see done? You shouldn't be afraid to leave in and just do 60 seconds so I think you know it's not that these things are radical revolutionary Concepts the biggest what young people who consumers of this media are enjoying a lot just consuming it but also creating for it president of audi audio at our let me bring you in here because we'll talk in a moment about your relationship with the Tech companies, but let's just zoom out of it.

Give us a sense of the scale of Bowers radio business in the because you know you're one of the big, but you're one of a handful of big companies that now dominate the sector you're so will we operator radio Services in all of the

Music genres across the UK we have a national brands like a absolute kiss and magic and we have the complementary local services under brands like greatest hits and Hits radio, so we have combination national entertainment and local content with listeners value hugely in the UK I get what you're saying that listeners Valley hugely, but you're definitely in the last decade or so, you'll be seen no quirky local independent radio station to get swallowed up by by big companies.

They think they've really lost their kind of local flavour of of radio station.

You know what would you say to that continues to grow and we see that listeners want to access local news and local services together with the national recognisable national quality content.

Which makes radio compelling what what makes it local though I was I was looking through one of your stations earlier and I heard Greatest Hits Somerset but I wasn't sure what made it Somerset news and the local information that service provides local content as well.

Would you say the dominance of tech companies in the other the market has 4th power and and your competitors of course going to wrapping up local stations into big national brands that are well-loved opportunity for companies like to use and see the internet the way of expanding their offer the listeners and to increase the target that they offered to advertisers, but that that environment is more than the traditional radio model and I think that environment things to ask to appreciate scale and technology Investments that group such as ask me.

And can support innovation solicitors in the way there are services are accessed on smartphones or on smart speakers or on PCs and someone ask smart speakers actually because they're now a very significant platform for listeners of barrel right, but do you have the same level of Control in terms of distribution with smartphone speakers that you would do this a traditional FM frequencies, where we we we have found listen to the radio for a smart speaker with a very early and behaviour or have it that listeners found if Amazon devices way of extending their radio listen, but you're right in the sense that that listening is mediated through a third-party Amazon with its Alexa voice assistant and the relationship with us today has been a very strong ASDA developed in the future.

We think it's important that radio listeners continue to enjoy an unfettered.

Those services on this battle you think that's the way in which regulation is heading in the UK and across Europe as a new digital market acts.

That's been considered by the you and I think this kind of activity is being considered in the UK as well, which is the term listeners.

I should continue to access their favourite radio stations on the smart speakers really future and integrity of those services to be continued being away there.

I won't ask you to come in or whether Ofcom would like an expanded role in regulating smart speakers, what do you make of it? We care about consumers and how they can access content is pulled says so at the moment.

We have around a traditional broadcast media server example on TV on electronic program guide where you look at Channels and we ensure that the public service broadcasters get problems.

I think there's a fascinating question as increasingly people say Alexa show me something entertaining in a what happens at that point what country gets what device and how do you secure the brilliant great British concept that audiences tell us that they love I wish reflect a UK back to themselves on but something like that legislation.

So that is a question.

I suppose we are reviewing that the dynamic technologies changing his market matter.

What do you think that? This is in a decision justunique to radiator company's technology companies being mediators.

You know we seen that with print media and there's been a big battle going on over there and we you know in the advertising market.

So just actually this week France find Google 220 million for antitrust abuse in advertising and again you know.

Allegation was that they're using their market dominance and advertising to cut out their competitors and you know I think that you're there is going to be a move towards more patient looking at platforms that not only serve up the content Battlefield the participants in the ecosystem as well like like with Google you know it's you know.

It's the marketplace, but it also has its own exchange and its own Sella you kno technologies and things and similarly you know Amazon has a speaker on which it serves other people's content but it also and so I think there has to be a little bit more or there will be more sort of lines drawn around you know when they're just serving this platform and when their participants in a competitive landscape pull your nodding along there and I guess it is a bit Brave New World right, but your tell us about your new subscription service that your

You're launching.

Why would I want to pay for subscription, but I can still listen to the radio for free but specialist or a specialist music is one of the life passion.

They invest a lot of the discretionary income in following particular genre of music and artists and 4th Ms of barium, and what we think is that they would want to Adele even deeper into that experience so we think that they'd be prepared to pay a very modest amount just £3.99 a month of scholar Jazz FM Kerrang and Planet Rock for a Premium service in Wiltshire again add resurface with more music 20 new on-demand listening shows or channels and they get specialist on-demand programming which re.

Makes them into their light passion, so we think that the combination of those services all easily delivered an access through the app which they enjoy your services on is a very compelling offer and you're only rolling it out across before it moment.

Yes, we are so this is an innovative and there's a lot rasta learn.

We think that were onto something really strong already.

We're seeing live trialists convert to subscriptions roughly 85% very strong and we're seeing your level of demand or a new content offering those listen as well, as he said you know it's the music specialists you have a real is that why you're not ruling it across magic Music snob myself.

I love my magic but but I was just thinking surely the sorts of people that.

This at the moment are people with such a niche interest from people who would find themselves by their passion for music for example.

You're in Planet Rock is a collection of listeners dead their own dog walking club the Mutley crew.

Of course they call themselves.

So please this is a very very important lives and we think the indulging their passion in this really rich will work of the future the future subscription Radio 2 what we do already which is live broadcasting in ever-increasing On Demand audio, which is complementary to it, so we think it's not about ongoing works as we expected to.

We will take it to the other eight the other 7 countries in which we operate are you a huge drop in advertising revenue over the next ten years not at all.

I'll prospect forecast for advertising revenue over 10-years very good advertisers continue to see that Radio 2 platform office the meaning for scale at fantastic is and delivers a highly effective return on investment absolutely we think advertising prospective very good.

What do you make that? It's unique speakers in other areas we see everybody trying to move away from reliance on advertising.

I mean even the internet Giants who who basically are the biggest you know who actually benefit from advertising more than anybody else on earth really like we saw you know Twitter this week actually has just launched Twitter blue.

Which is it?

Premium subscription service and I smiled when Paul said you know his service was for superfan, because they also have something that might be released in future with other vehicles super follow analogous idea hear of people who have you know really hard and followers and overpower uses the Twitter will want to pay to either follow certain people or to have that features, but you know all that kind of cell this as a in a benefit to use it.

I think it is really part of a broader plan and strategy for Twitter amongst others including Facebook move away from just advertising revenue as it's only source of profit and on the digital fine.

I think that's because you know the the platforms like apple for example which control so much of how's your Media nowadays are becoming kind of closing their doors a bit more and becoming much more privacy conscious and actually closing off that hosepipe of date.

The advertisers rely on to target the advert and I mean April no more about how that might affect radio listeners, but in terms of online audience targeting is kind of the big the big kind of cash cow for the advertising industry and if someone like apple says you can't track people anymore and they need to opt-in to be tracked or they going to IP addresses so nobody knows where they use a sick anymore.

It's a huge problem for people who rely on advertising including massive companies like Facebook yeah.

I mean move on to you and I just want to ask you how many how many subscribers do you have to have to make it worthwhile? We think that this kind of language is quite a lot of what we do already.

So it's a relatively inexpensive trial and Innovation at this stage for an incredible.

So we're very confident this world and a fly will let me bring Indian Lee and Katherine Boyle here, because your career kind of Mirrors what we're talking about the three of us actually work together like 19 years ago.

I was briefly your produce on breakfast radio in London in the morning.

It was wonderful working.

It was horrendous getting up early because you two were broadcasting the late-night alternative on talk radio and then you move to quit which is the massive streaming platform owned by Amazon how come about when are I was no longer required at all radio best of lucky and I hope you get a job.

And someone at which saw that got in touch and they were expanding its generally no people playing video games on there and they were expanding to making their own content and they got in touch and so would you like to bring the phone-in show over to twitch for a year and see how that goes? Oh, that's how we moved to twitch and we've been there for the last 12-months fully online so how did the finances work in that case was twitch paying you a salary.

Did you make money from advertising each month on top of that we we advertised on the show and you know we kind of we had a lot of sponsors.

That will come and we would give them something that the radio advertising that you're getting the advert every time.

We could do personalised adverts and we can make them different make them really silly and all those kind of things.

We had subscriptions.

We had donations.

Oh, that's how it made money.

The moving front which two volume 342 YouTube and I am moving to patreon tell us a bit about that well.


Well well, so is coming to an end and we realised it was time to either go it alone or go and do something completely different because you know the moment to get hired in in the radio industry is ever more difficult and a lot of people from understandable reasons of the drawbridge.

Will they try and take care of their smaller stations? You know everyone's fighting for survival so we're just going to have a go and see if we can make this work and at this point in our heads.

It's an experiment for 6-months see if we can make it fly we are heading towards where we need to be financially to make it sustainable.

We're not quite there yet.

We should have a month to go and we're hopeful that we can make it but how does it work I mean this is this is quite fascinating isn't it? You're basically charging a sliding fee to your viewers and depending on how much they pay that that will dictate how much konta.

That there are different offering so at the moment.

We do in a Daily Podcast that goes oh absolutely free in a lot of people for them.

They it's like watching television on demand for them.

You know they might go to make it for the late night show with special really late night ones and for a lot of people they not the people that phone in so it doesn't matter that level of interactivity is not there after what they want is a conversation intimacy about late night.

We don't get anywhere else and so those those podcast have been incredibly popular and the lowest I think this all the second lowest subscription will get you that is different so one of the things you get the podcast the next year you'll get to see the whole show because the shows going to go behind a paywall visual show and you get the podcast the next year up from that you get loads of bonus contacts and reason I doing it we can't get a job.

You know last year everyone you know it's a hard industry.

Last year we won the best radio moment at the answer is no, I don't know why but so we doing this and loads of people done it made a success Danny Baker is doing it has about 2000 subscribers are friends Stephen pages a great singer songwriter.

Is is making a living primarily out of doing that it's been a lot of artists have moved to patreon and as covid-19 kicked in and they weren't able to go out and do like things like that and it's a direct way with fans can pay the artist directly there's no agency than none of that it comes straight to us in the patreon.

Take a little bit of it and it how many subscribers do you need to make a living job 1600 at so we don't know if we have enough time you know cooling fans with a small if we don't know if we have enough is enough people would be interested.

It's a punt but what else are we going to do? I want to see my kids.

And I feels like an old-fashioned on used to having an agent who charges of saying I get a monthly thing and I feel embarrassed saying to people I come and pay me directly but it's kind of it's a new thing that is acceptable and and people out there find acceptable to do that to pay that way and what's the most that you are charging which is like that for a laugh and the main is 41999 and 666 but the people doing people use patreon not just for the content.

It's because they want to support the artist specifically so even listen to the content.

They just want to help out.

I mean this is where he really isn't being rewarded by loyalty of of listeners and equally we have people when we said that deal which was coming to an end people were calling wasn't saying but I need this show and so

Do to help though there was a will there as well, so we'll see how far that good will goes but I mean it's a watershed moment.

They're literally going straight to the list of a completely cut out any big broadcaster platform giant to do it.

I'm just not in a long because for the first time I actually donated to a podcast on patreon.

Just earlier this week, because I was learn more about literary agents and there was a great cook pasta.

Took me about an hour.

I'm going to I'm going to give to you.

Don't have to and I think that there is more the movement toward supporting individual artist and funnily enough Facebook or rather the head of Instagram which is part of Facebook does came out recently to fight for the little guy.

I think that's part of a larger fight between Facebook and apple because apple takes 30% of everything that gets paid with them their ass.

Like that but what Adam was very said was you know we want to try and find other ways for creators who come to Instagram or whatever platform to make money and not have to share that with you know a giant trillion-dollar company.

It's funny.

He said that because you know he's like a second and third largest but the point is the individual creators that coming up there so many more platforms to which they can they work can be seen and hard and the Direct connection with the consumer which kind of was started by the social media like you know I'm pretty can just go out and speak to whoever you want to speak to its continuing as a waiter kind of fundraising and you know be paid for your content as well, so I see that happening this even imagine going back to one of the costas now.

Like yard everybody loves a job.

I'd love the job of people want to come.

I'm going to say it / in Kettering that is great.

It would work in corresponds to do I want to work.

I want to work and we can't get to work at the moment.

So that's why we are and I didn't say other platforms are available stick it to the man.

That's not be my kids and pay my bills and at the moment.

This is the only opportunity really really well Paul Keenan you know the relationship radio listeners development events can be really powerful and you know as you know you've had Simon Mayo the incredibly loyal so, can you envisage more radio start copying what I think that the transition radio It's a Wonderful World radio into the wider universe of audio is creating such a lot of opportunities.

Anything so I think that water in the teachers all something about how to connect one-to-one with audiences and how to build laudian, what works in our context and what is this was greater personalisation in greater targeting is something you that trains left the station.

That's where we're all headed.

Thank you.


Thank you very much.

I'm so we've run out of time.

Thank you very much for all my guests today.

That's it madhumita, murgia European tech husband for the Financial Times poll president of audio at our Iain Lee presenter of the late-night alternative Katherine Boyle producer of the late-night alternative and each want a strategy and research director at Ofcom the media.

Show me back same time next week.

Thanks for listening.

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