The program is intended to drive listeners to Clear Channel station Web sites -- it has more than 1,200 -- much as it its other initiatives, introduced earlier this year, have done: Stripped, an online video program featuring acoustic sessions from major artists; and Sneak Peek, weeklong previews of full soon-to-be released albums, the most recent of which was Paul McCartney’s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.
7 million monthly visitors
“We have a large audience spanning across our music Web site and our goal was pretty sincere and simple -- to expand our play list by using our online promotion,” said Evan Harrison, who has been, since December, in charge of growing the radio group’s online operations. Since the beginning of the year, Clear Channel has grown its monthly visitors from 5.9 million to the about 7 million.
New is also an acknowledgement that listeners are continuously heading online to seek out new music, Mr. Harrison said.
Each quarter, New will rotate through an inter-genre group of 16 artists, each with five full-length songs and a self-produced video to introduce themselves to listeners. The featured artists will be chosen based on discussions with record labels. Additionally, the radio group has also partnered with Garageband.com, an independent music-networking site with 150,000 member bands, to promote 50 additional unsigned artists.
'Less risk' for radio
“We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to use radio stations, how to educate them in who our artists are and how to make our online efforts mean something in radio,” said Bill Bennett, president of Warner Music Nashville, whose artist Ray Scott will be featured on New. “We’re trying to educate fans about the music before we bring it to radio so there’s less risk [to radio]. Here Clear Channel is doing that for us. ... They’re being aggressive.”
Traditional radio companies continue to bolster their online identities as they watch companies such as Google and Yahoo -- which have successful online music and radio operations -- exploit the fast-growing advertising potential of the Internet. While the Radio Advertising Bureau reported radio revenue growth at 1% during the first half of 2005, eMarketer is projecting 33.7% full-year growth for online companies.
Traditional radio makes inroads
But traditional radio is making inroads. Recently, Clear Channel’s network of 400 streaming stations initiated measurement by Aribtron/comScore, logging 861,000 unique listeners during an average week in June. While that’s a fraction of the more than 6.4 million people who listened to online radio during an average week in June -- earlier entrants Yahoo Launchast and AOL Radio Network notching the highest audiences at 2.7 million and 1.6 million, respectively -- it’s evidence traditional radio listeners are interested in seeking out online versions of their favorite over-the-air stations.
The difference maker for turning Clear Channel into an online music force, both through streaming its broadcasts and amassing an inventory of original content, said Mr. Harrison, is “the 110 million listeners a week that we’re reaching on the air. It’s that dual medium approach both for the listeners and the advertiser.”