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Chris Gaines
09-22-2000, 05:46 PM
Radio stations seen facing high-tech threat
<br>By Michael Kahn
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<br>SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The traditional radio station -- long a mainstay of U.S. pop culture -- is being threatened by advances in audio technology that could pull the plug on broadcasters unless they adapt quickly, researchers said Wednesday.
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<br>Computer-based technology such as that used by song-swap upstart Napster Inc. is revolutionizing the way people get their music, and broadcasters needed to make sure they did not miss that boat, said Barry Vercoe, a professor of Music an Media Arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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<br>``That is the model to beat,'' he said after presenting a paper coinciding with the opening of the National Association of Broadcasters' annual radio convention.
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<br>Traditionally, consumers have received their music in two ways -- radio broadcasts and the purchase of albums or CDs from stores, he said.
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<br>But the emergence of technology like MP3 files, a compression format that turns music on compact discs into small computer files, showed the two traditional models were converging, Vercoe said.
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<br>The trick for U.S. radio broadcasters, which in 1999 saw total revenues jump by 15 percent to $17.6 billion, is discovering how to take advantage of this quickly -- or risk ending up like the recording industry, which is playing catch-up in the courtroom after taking too long to adapt to technology that spawned firms like Napster.
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<br>``Technology has created higher consumer expectations,'' Vercoe told the conference. ``Consumers have shown they will move forward with or without the industry.''
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<br>That is certainly true of Napster. The wildly popular service now boasts an estimated 20 million users but faces a lawsuit by the recording industry over charges of copyright infringement.
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<br>Officials at Napster have said they hope to settle the landmark legal battle out of court, but the recording industry has been less than enthusiastic, especially after a judge ruled earlier this month that online music provider MP3.com had violated copyrights and awarded Seagram Co Ltd.'s Universal music from $118 million to $250 million in damages.
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<br>Other researchers said while some broadcasters may fear the effects of the Internet on their business, online radio listeners will also offer up new opportunities, allowing them both to expand their reach through the Internet and change their format into something more consumer-friendly.
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<br>Robert Kozinets, a business professor at Northwestern University, told the NAB conference he saw radio changing into something more communal and interactive, making it easier to target and reach niche audiences.
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<br>``What technology may help advertisers do, is find their target audience more precisely than ever before,'' Kozinets said.
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<br>Still, a major question for broadcasters is how to make money from consumers who increasingly want to create their own experience but without the advertising that radio stations depend on for revenues, he explained.
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<br>Some solutions might include include making ads part of the entertainment experience by elevating it to a form of art. An example is the song ``I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing,'' which was used in Coca-Cola commercials and became a best-selling single, Kozinets said.
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<br>Broadcasters could also explore ways to weave advertising into programming, much like product placement in movies. That strategy recalled radio's Golden Age, when sponsors were often an integral part of the show, he said.
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<br>``By appreciating that technology and culture always work together, the radio advertising industry can grow and profit from the new opportunities that these important changes and challenges present,'' Kozinets wrote in his paper.
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<br>Reuters/Variety
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<br>20:12 09-20-00
<br>Copyright 2000 Reuters Limited.N

Pilgrim
09-25-2000, 12:46 PM
Thanks for sharing:)
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<br>I just printed it out;)
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<br>BrianN