Thursday, July 29, 2010

Friday Media Rant: It's All Relative

What’s a good year? One where your revenue and profit are both up. At least, that’s the way it used to be. The world’s largest radio group, Clear Channel, had a pretty good first quarter…relatively speaking…with revenue of 623 million dollars. Not bad, but not what it used to be.

623 million bucks is a lot of money, but it’s all relative. iTunes revenue in the first quarter of the year was 1.1 BILLION dollars. Just about double the revenue of the largest radio group on the planet. And if you listen to music, you iTunes is not only the way a huge chunk of consumers get their music, but a place where you can buy (or download free) “aps”…applications…for your iPad or iPhone.

And, to put things in more clear perspective, 623 million is the total radio revenue for Clear Channel in the first quarter…and that represents about half the total take for Clear Channel, which also owns ticket outlets, concert promotion companies, concert venues, and other associated enterprises.

iTunes’ 1.1 billion is slightly less than 8% of Apple’s total revenue. In other words, iTunes had revenue approximately equal to the entire Clear Channel empire’s take, in the first quarter.

And, analysts say iPad revenue alone is forecast to be just under 2 BILLION dollars in the third quarter of this year.

It’s all relative, isn’t it?

While there’s plenty of gloom and doom to go around for local radio, it’s still a good business. Smart operators have learned, often the hard way, that being the over-the-air equivalent of an mp3 player is a sure way to lose audience and revenue. Live, local talent – on-air people who know the community and know their audience – can still make a lot of money for broadcast owners.

Contrary to what used to be the formula for success in music-based radio, “shut up and play the hits” doesn’t really work any more. The younger generation is not finding new music on the radio, and the established radio generation can get all the music it wants on its mp3 player. It’s still a business where personality means something – something no other station or mp3 player has.

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