Country Aircheck review of Digital Summit

A review of Leadership Music’s Digital Summit from our friends at

April 30, 2012, Issue 292

Digital Summit: Social/Traditional Media Balance

As the music and radio industries get caught up in the frenzy over social media, several experts at last week’s Leadership Music Digital Summit offered some insights as to how Facebook, Twitter technology tools and, yes, traditional radio are shaping the contours of how we connect with customers. Mobile Roadie’s Michael Schneider cautions, “Don’t get caught up in the ‘app or site of the month’ because things are changing so rapidly. That said, more traffic is coming from smartphones than desktops as people are checking their phones every six-and-a-half minutes. Brands are working hard to harness the ‘second screen by engaging more with consumers in order to monetize mobile eyeballs. For these devices, it’s all iPhone and Android; for the tablet, it’s all Apple.”

Flo {Thinkery} executive Sloane Scott agrees that these are still early days, and that there is much to be learned from how consumers are interfacing with social media such as location-based apps and couponing. “We’re still in the era of consumer influence. That is, they’re teaching us what they’re willing to do. Mobile payment, for example, is just beginning.” Scott advises against driving listeners or music fans to third party cul-de-sacs. “Whatever platforms you use, look for the ones where you can own the data.” Moderator and author David Ross notes, “Besides LinkedIn, I can’t think of one social media site where you can export a list of your contacts.” Walmart and other retailers use RFID (radio frequency ID) tags to track products through the supply chain, and that technology is now coming rapidly along for the music industry. Music Allies’ Sean O’Connell said, “There’s real excitement about RFID wristbands replacing tickets, and they will be ubiquitous by 2014.”

Outside The Box Music’s Charles Alexander says the immediate future is all about “fans participating in the experience” through sharing innovations such as, which can create drag-and-drop postings featuring photos, music, voting and other elements. O’Connell concurred, pointing to growing appeal of Google Chrome’s, where fans can remix songs (see Mix.js on the site as an example). One-way Facebook and Twitter postings about station activities or what artists are doing will not get much traction, panelists agreed.

Moontoast’s Marcus Whitney observes, “Talk about movies you’ve seen or world events. And ask questions, such as ‘What do you think?’ What’s a ‘like’ worth in ROI? If you create value for your followers in return for that ‘like,’ then you create value for your brand.” But he adds that it’s important to be mindful of how quickly the conversation moves. “Ninety minutes is the half-life of a Facebook post.”

While social analytics may not yet have infiltrated Country programming decision making, Next Big Sound’s Alex White says some PDs in other formats are receptive to such information for airplay considerations. “We use online activity to show a PD that an artist deserves airplay as much as acts already on the air.” Crimson Hexagon’s Wayne St. Amand noted that his company also provides data to help persuade radio.

Yet even though 70 million Americans (37%, up from 29% in 2010) use social media to engage with artists, traditional media forms still rule. NPD Group SVP/Industry Analysis Russ Crupnick showed that AM/FM radio is still the No. 1 music discovery vehicle among highly engaged music fans by a 3:1 margin, and that email was still a vital form of communication. “That the pendulum has swung all the way over to social media is false,” he says. “When asked what would make consumers buy more music, overwhelmingly it was radio back-announcing the name of the artist and song. It’s about giving consumers the information on the medium they use the most.” –Jeff Green

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This post was written by:

Charles Alexander - who has written 45 posts on Outside The Box Music.

Charles Alexander is a performing songwriter, music entrepreneur and digital media marketing strategist. He was born in Malaysia and lives in Nashville. He recently bought a shinier, new vocabulary. He can also be bribed with "gulab jamuns" and an insulin chaser.

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“We use online activity to show a PD that an artist deserves airplay as much as acts already on the air. Thanks for sharing.