I spent much of my weekend with the North Park Music Thing (NPMT), mainly stage managing at one of San Diego’s newest revamped venues, Eleven (post on that later). Even though I really needed to dedicate the day time to work and family time, I did manage to squeeze in one full panel session: All Things Radio.
Chickrawker (Lyn) broke down the session in comprehensive detail, with the conversation burning in several directions including music popularity… what music do people really want to listen to. Each individual on the panel agreed the current systems for measuring listeners interests and likes are flawed. No one has really captured what the overall population really enjoys at any given moment, not at all saying that they haven’t tried. Billboard and Arbitron charts measure sales and what people are listening to on the radio, but by using only those sources the data discounts what people are enjoying on the web including sites like Pandora, Slacker and other smaller sites like lastfm or blipfm.
Although people are listening to music all over the place, a heated discussion between ex-XTRA (91X) coworkers, Mat Bates (Slacker) and Garrett Capone (91X) prompted each of them to defend their particular company’s measurement systems. While Capone argued the positive points for how terrestrial stations gather data, Mat shared with panel attendees that Slacker has been able to collect significant information from its 15 million users by monitoring when people stop listening to a station, skip a song, ban a song or click on what Halloran refered to as the “boner meter” (the little heart you click if you like a song). Kevin Stapleford (X1 FM), recognizing the value in such data asked politely if Mat would share. The answer is currently no, but it sound like Slacker is researching how they can profit on their golden collection of data.
For this “active listening, music freak,” it is hard to listen to terrestrial radio anymore, save for the radio personalities I have become friends with. Reason being… even for the stations that “break the rules” by playing stuff off the charts, they still NEED to play the hits that bring them the ratings they need to get the advertizing bucks to survive. Those hits include songs that I usually prefer to not hear on heavy rotation (or ever again), like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sublime. Internet radio is able to reach deeper into the song vaults or like Slacker, able to customize your own stations. But how different am I from the average listener… I still want what I want, now.