CBS Stations Instructed to Embrace the Music

by chris on May 25, 2011

One of our strong beliefs is that the air personalities on music based radio stations should make the music the hero of the show, and find ways to talk up the music and deliver relevant and timely information about the artists and music played on radio. Now, one of the heavyweights of American Radio is asking his stations to do a better job of promoting the music played on radio. Dan Mason, the President/CEO of CBS sent a memo to his radio programmers today instructing them to improve song identification on air and strengthen the broadcaster’s relationships with record labels. Mason wrote that, “Effective immediately, CBS Radio Contemporary, Rock, Urban and Country stations will increase the integration of title and artist information on new music releases in an effort to personalize, and drive sales of the product. We will also be expanding our radio play history online as far back as several years, providing a living synopsis of the songs we feature on the air for anyone to access.” He also declared in the memo that, “We shouldn’t just play the music, we should showcase the music. Love of the product is contagious.”

Mason said, “While I was in Los Angeles recently, I met with a leading music industry executive to discuss the mutual benefits of keeping an open dialogue as our respective businesses navigate the future. Certainly the dynamics of 2011 are vastly different than they were 20 years ago for both industries, and maybe it’s a bit idealistic to think things can be the same as they were when I was the program director of WPGC in Washington. But I believe we should always be thinking about where we were and where we are now, and how we can apply what we’ve learned to help us grow.”

In the spirit of this conversation, I asked this exec what’s the one thing the radio industry could do to help sell more music. The answer came from him in less than five seconds which astonished me. He replied, “Just give the title and artist of the music you play.” Pretty simple idea and it wasn’t the answer I expected. He went on to question me as to how the concept of not giving that information ever crept into radio programming in the first place. Having been around programming for 40 years, my recollection was that in the early 80’s that information was defined as clutter – the more music and less talk theory. I didn’t subscribe to that theory, but it was the thinking at the time.

Mason also added that, “This is a commitment I feel very strongly about. Our listeners should hear an immediate difference in the way we present our day to day programming as we implement this. … This is a positive step CBS Radio is taking not only to support the sale of music, but in strengthening our relationship with the artists and those that promote and manage their careers.”

At ByrnesMedia we encourage our clients to not only promote the music they play on air but also to display the title and artist information on their website, and where possible, on their Smartphone and iPad applications. Some of our clients even allow listeners to purchase music directly from their website. Promoting music in a positive manner of radio is something that Canadian radio stations do a better of than our neighbours to the south of us, but CBS are looking to improve their marks in this area.

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