How do you promote your best content?

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I just saw this on Twitter from @dannywallace and think it needs sharing.

http://soundcloud.com/the-xfm-breakfast-show/behind-the-scenes-documentary

http://soundcloud.com/the-xfm-breakfast-show/behind-the-scenes-documentary

There’s a tendency, particularly in commercial radio, to run a breakfast show promo that contains a quick clip from the show. The normal reason for this is that the show is sponsored, and as part of the deal, the Sponsorship team have added in promo trails. The real reason it’s there is to get across a sponsor message. And the breakfast show clip is essentially the filling in the sponsorship sandwich.

Often, the promo is pretty rubbish. The reason; it’s pretty hard to distill the essence of a great breakfast show into a single, punchy clip.

So why do shows insist on doing it? Would it not be as effective to use the trail to give a tease of some great audio that’s actually worth listening to, and maybe direct listeners online to hear the whole section? And now that a significant number of your consumers are online, maybe there are new ways to promote the show too.

I like this “behind the scenes” “documentary” because:
It’s funny.
It’s irreverent.
It’s probably something extra that wouldn’t necessarily appear on air.
It’s really shareable too.

I’m constantly amazed why more stations don’t use clips of content from interviews in on air promos and imaging to drive the listeners online to hear more. If you’ve spent the time recording and editing a great interview with a guest, don’t assume your listeners were actually listening when you broadcast it. Why not use it to promote your show and then reward the listeners with more content online.

Global Radio finally living up to their name..?

Two pieces of news yesterday finally cemented Global Radio’s ambitions.

First, they announced “an unprecedented long term partnership” with News International – creating a range of partnerships. The UK Press Gazette reports

Capital Breakfast will partner with The Sun
Classic FM’s More Music Breakfast will be presented in partnership with The Times and The Sunday Times
Heart’s Club Classics on Friday evenings with The Sun and Fabulous Magazine
LBC 97.3 will run special features, news round-ups and advertorials with The Times and The Sunday Times
The Big Top 40, the chart show syndicated across various stations UK-wide on Sunday afternoons, will feature Sun advertorial features.

They also announced a “new media opportunity” with Clear Channel Media in the US to create the Official World Premiere across Global Radio and Clearchannel airtime and advertising assets across the UK, Europe and the USA.

According to Radio Today

Ashley Tabor, Founder & Executive President of Global Radio said: “This is an unprecedented partnership between Clear Channel and Global Radio. The combined worldwide reach of over 150 million people, as well as the innovation of combining radio & digital outdoor, together with the geographical spread of this initiative, is truly eye watering. We’re delighted to be partnering with Madonna and Universal music for the very first ‘Official World Premiere’ today.”

This is pretty clever strategically for Global on both counts.

With the NI deal, there’s a tie up with a huge publisher, giving a tie in with the editorial power of a huge newspaper group. I’m guessing the showbiz-loving Sun will happily be featuring the sort of content that Global breakfast shows will be talking about, and featuring stories about Global’s huge events. I’m sure there’s no compulsion to do this – but an alignment like this certainly won’t harm either if them. One wonders how impartial reporting of Rajar day stories will be – but I’m sure the benefits will outweigh the challenges.

With the Clear Channel deal – the benefits are far more rooted in music partnerships. The recent Official World Premiere of the new Madonna track tied up the Capital Fm Network, Clear Channel’s Radio stations and billboard sites. The event trended worldwide on Twitter – driving traffic back to Capital and helping build the Madonna Brand. I’m guessing this will be sold to various labels to promote their content – 150 Million potential consumers is not to be sniffed at. And I’m guessing that if Global wanted to use it to promote any of their acts – they’d get a good deal..

I’m wondering though if the CC deal will go further. Both Global and Clear Channel operate music events for their stations. Capital has the Jingle Bell Ball whilst New York’s Z100 has the Jingle Ball. In the future, will huge headliners be tied into the type of partnership deal – whereby Rihanna or Jay-Z or similar artists headline both events over one weekend in two continents? An extreme idea – but with lots of possibilities.

The challenge for radio is to constantly come up with new ideas. Global are doing this with new strategic commercial partnerships – that could ultimately create exciting and unique new content partnerships. This must ultimately be good news for all radio brands.

Fireworks Soundtracks and Mashups

Image (C) Merlin Fireworks

“James – we need you to make a fireworks soundtrack. It needs to be 15 minutes long. Oh, and it needs to be beatmixed..”.

I have only had to make one full on fireworks soundtrack mix.

It was around 2001 and was for the AXA Skyfest Cardiff. It was a huge 15 minute display to celebrate the first Football FA Cup Final to be hosted at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium (whilst London’s Wembley Stadium was being rebuilt). It took me a few weeks to make ( through various incarnations) using a very basic setup on ProTools5 (my first ProTools Rig) and with no fancy Elastic Time tools – just clever edits a little varispeed and a lot of edits.

It worked pretty well and it was fantastic to see the whole of Cardiff Bay lit up to a fireworks display set off and designed by the company that produced the fireworks for the Olympics ceremony at the Sydney Games. You can hear it here. I just listened back to it for the first time in a decade – and whilst it’s a little ragged in places, it was pretty epic!

I was at a party last night so missed the huge London 2012 New Years Eve fireworks display. These have become a Traditional part of each New Years celebration. My friend Will Jackson has tracked down the mix from last night’s display – so thought it worth a share here. It was mixed by BBC Radio 1 and Asian Network DJ Nihal. Take a listen here

In fact this mix was curated by Nihal and engineered by BBC Radio 1 Head of Station Sound, Dan Mumford. You can read more about how the display was put together here

My friends at the Benztownbranding Blog have also recently showcased a very clever Beatmix from David Konksy at Sydney’s 2DayFM here. 30 songs in 3 minutes!

And if you REALLY like this sort of thing – get bang up to date with DJ Earworm’s United State of Pop 2011

Now – if you have a good hangover cure after last night’s celebrations – let me have it…

Johnny Be Good (and his Jingles weren’t that bad either)

Big Ben by James Stodd

Last week, Capital FM‘s breakfast host, Johnny Vaughan left the station.

The reasons behind why he left have been discussed by people like Matt Deegan and Nik Goodman

For my money, Johnny was a great radio broadcaster, somewhat constrained by commercial radio from the start. When Johnny was in full free form mode, he was incredibly entertaining.

The Johnny who left Capital was a very different sounding one who started there. Sure, some of the gems came through, but he didn’t really fit with the punchy format that Capital now pumps out. I’m also guessing they’re looking for someone who can work equally well across the network. And Johnny is of course at heart, a Londoner – as his launch TV commercial showed.

Creating the production sound for a new breakfast show is hard. And it was for that show. Johnny was a big change from the previous Chris Tarrant breakfast show and the various interim replacements.

What we ended up with was a fairly esoteric sounding package of jingles and the like from the guys at Wise Buddah in London. They fitted his personality, his style and his quirkiness – and included the fairly memorable “Johnny on the Radio Now Now Now” theme which cropped up a number of times during the first half of his tenure.

Before we got there, we did explore other areas, and I found one bit of audio in my archives that may not have ever been heard before. Before settling on the guys at Wise Buddah, we worked on some demos with the team at Reelworld. These were based around Capital’s heritage sonic logo – and had a more US/Letterman/talkshow type of feel. Needless to say, they weren’t what was required at the time. However, I still think they are really good, and could work for someone somewhere. You can contact Reelworld here:

Johnny’s replacement is being announced tomorrow morning. I wonder if the replacement will get a song and dance number to herald in the new show? Doubting it..

UPDATE: Capital FM have announced that Dave Berry will join Lisa Snowdon as breakfast show host. Great choice – funny, punchy and full on Londoner.

Bringing the Summertime Ball Alive

Image (c) Global Radio

Yesterday, Capital FM hosted its Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium for 75,000 rain-soaked fans with acts ranging from JLS and Nicole Scherzinger to The Wanted and Jennifer Lopez.

I spent the weekend in Cardiff, once home to another similar event when Red Dragon FM was around. Cardiff is now one of the cities that has Capital FM as its own radio station. And this weekend in Cardiff it was all about the Ball. And even though the event was over 2 hours away in London – it still sort of felt local. All the local shows talked about was the fact that they had last-minute tickets to give away. All the news bulletins led with the Ball – with a reporter backstage and loads of quick relevant scene setting. And on Sunday morning when Cardiff was being soaked in a torrential downpour, the local host had upbeat, excited callers on, getting ready for “South Wales’ road trip to the Ball”.

In fact, the weekend served as a warm up for Take That’s arrival in Cardiff – an event that it seems is so anticipated that one local fashion advertiser has themed their local campaign around the band’s arrival.

My personal road trip home from Cardiff joined coverage of the Ball at about 4, and it was good to hear Capital throwing everything at it – from backstage reporters to “live” interviews along with (somewhat surprisingly) live tracks too. Live performances are hardly ever as good as recorded ones , so this felt a bit of a brave move for Capital. But as a passive listener, it made me feel part if the show. They were also making much of the HD photos available online along with video interviews. And I’m sure they will be hammering home the amount of online content (both photos and video) available for listeners to check out in the next few days.

Little is made of the backstage effort made to make this sort of thing happen. I know there will have been a fairly small team of hugely dedicated people working long hours to make this happen from engineers to online editors to producers. Maybe Global should shout publicly about this a little more – they should be proud of the team.

But, the moment I heard Capital FM’s Greg Burns link to someone high above London in the Flying Eye describing the sight of the stadium and the bands arriving, it felt like Capital had really nailed it. I’m uncertain whether the Flying Eye is still even in existence on air on Capital. But it is radio shorthand to Capital’s past that still exists in the collective memory (certainly for the older part of the audience). It’s a simple device to paint pictures and create context. And it was a nice subtle link to Capital’s past heritage too.

Bieber FM – No Thanks..

Photo from http://www.key103.co.uk/

Here in the UK, Manchester’s Key 103 has taken a break from playing non stop Gaga/Bieber/Perry to become TakeThat103 for one day only to celebrate the band’s return to the city 16 years since they last played there.

You can read all about it here in more detail on the UK’s Radio and Marketing blog.

“Flipping format” is nothing new to the UK. Before becoming Glide FM, Oxford’s FM 107.9 became Glee FM. And in the US, stunts like this happen all the time .

In Australia, they do it a different way – creating pop up radio stations to celebrate specific days or events – such as ABC Woodstock (to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock) or ABC Beatles (a weekend of documentaries to mark the 40th anniversary of the break up of the band).

Photo:AdamBowie on Flickr (cc)

The BBC did something similar last year with BBC Tennis – as Adam Bowie notes here.

When I worked in South Wales, we once even created an extra station for Red Dragon FM in Cardiff to support the first year of the staging of the Wales Rally GB. The station – Red Dragon Rally FM- ran as a separate station – taking Red Dragon programming overnight and flipping to rally news and background interviews with a more rock oriented music policy.

Let’s just hope no-one becomes Bieber FM

Play My Song and I’ll Say What You Like

Wow – I love NRJ in France. They have all the big stars on air and on their TV ads:

But hang on – I love Capital FM in London the UK – and they’ve got a fantastic new TV ad too:

These artists can’t surely love both NRJ AND Capital?

Can they?

Both these adverts are great examples of bringing brands closer to the music. They take a huge amount of planning – but give so much payback. They aren’t necessarily the sort of thing you can do if you are a small station with little real-time access to the big artists. But for Capital and NRJ, with big events to draw these stars in, increasingly, they are part of the deal. I’m not sure if any money changes hands with these things, but let’s face it – if you get to associate your face/name/band with the big stations in the market, and they hold events/play music/ do contests promoting your album/single/gig – then who loses out? And they got Justin Bieber  and Rihanna speaking French too.

Of course, radio station TV ads don’t always need to feature the music you play or the stars of the station. But I can’t imagine NRJ or  Capital would ever run something like this!

Summertime Ball mixes it up

Image (C) Global Radio

Last year, I remember being fairly lukewarm to the coverage online and on air for Capital FM’s Summertime ball.

This year they turned up the heat.

Everything about this year’s show was bigger and better. But in particular, how they interacted with the audience in the build up to the day.

Twitter was alive with #stball tweets all day. In fact – at one stage the event was trending in Twitter’s Top 10.

Capital kept listeners up to date with everything backstage, featured loads of user generated pictures, and threw up loads of videos from the performances the next day.

And most impressively, used new technology such as Radio DNS to keep my iPhone app and Pure Sensia up to date with images from the show – and additional information too.

Having worked on shows like this in a past, I know the enormous effort this sort of thing requires. Looks like Capital pulled out all the stops – and it showed.

And this video  from DJ Earworm was a nice touch too. He’s the guy who did the clever United States of Pop Mashup in 2009.

Audioboo – Instant reporting for radio?

I came. across AUDIOBOO by chance following a Twitter from James Cridland, one of the BBC’s online gurus.

Essentially it’s an online audio blogging tool – currently available as a free application from the Itunes store for iPhone, but I’m sure that will change rapidly.

photo

Essentially, the application lets you record audio on your iphone. You can’t edit it – but you can pause, then resume. Once you’re finished, you can upload it. However, you can also add information – maybe a picture of who you are recording or where you are. Since it’s recorded on the iphone, it also adds a GPS tag of where it is recorded. You can also tag the recording with keywords. Then, when you are finished, you hit publish, and it goes straight up to the audio boo website front page for anyone to hear. It’s simple and at present, you can’t make the recording private. You can publish anonymously – or linked to a user account (where you can manage /delete your audio). At first I couldn’t really see the point; there are loads and loads of posts, mostly strange or dull, or even just bizarre (like my test recording last night of the sounds you hear walking from Charing Cross to Embankment tube…)
embankment

[Audio http://blog.jamesstodd.com/page5/assets/Audioboo_walk.mp3%5D

So what does this mean for radio? Well, it depends on what you want from it to be honest. The quality is fairly good for a phone based recorder – but the ability to get audio online or even back to base quickly may outweigh any slight quality concerns. The example post above (from journalist Matthew Weaver) is one of his recordings from The Guardian’s blog coverage of the G20 summit.  He didn’t use everything he recorded – but then again, you wouldn’t use everything you recorded as a journalist.

[Audio http://blog.jamesstodd.com/page5/assets/Audioboo_obama.mp3%5D

Of course, The Guardian isn’t a radio station – but as mentioned before in my Twitter feed, they have 8 radio studios onsite – so the multimedia offering is increasingly important to them. In this case, they could have someone on the ground, recording audio and blogging, and then have it all tidied up on site.

For a radio station – particularly one on a tight budget, this is a method of allowing a journalist to be on site, to record an item in pretty good quality, and then to post the audio with nothing more than the click of a button. Now of course, at the moment, this audio is available for anyone to hear – so maybe each recording needs to start with “I’m XXXX for Badger FM onsite at xxxx before getting into the audio – thus tagging the audio with your station name. However, once it’s uploaded, it just needs someone back at base to find it, download it and if necessary delete it. Since you can also take a photo to upload with the audio, and later download it – you also have a way of not only getting audio content for a news bulletin up to the site, but also a picture of the event for the website. All the audio can be downloaded – either directly from the site into itunes, or by grabbing it via the RSS feed.

And of course, since your listeners have phones, the ability to make use of the resource of citizen journalists at a big event or news story is immensely useful.  Think about what you could get from listeners at a big music festival – or caught up in big travel chaos when the snow comes agin – or maybe on the day when school exam results come out. Get them to record audio and post it – you never know what great content you may get from it. Since the site lets you publish your updates directly to your Twitter account, I guess there’s a fairly easy way to tag these Tweets and aggregate them into one place. I’m sure there are people out there who could explain this aspect far more concisely than me…:-)

So, if you have an iphone, grab the application and give it a go. record something meaningful, or something bizarre. You never know who’ll be listening.

 

UPDATE:

Here’s how Richard Bacon is using it to interact with his listeners on 5 Live