"New ways of listening to music means that radio is confronted with a crisis as big as the one in the golden age of traditional radio, when television exploded in popularity."
While this sounds like something an observer of American radio might say, the quote actually comes from Pierre Bellanger, a French broadcaster, who operates Skyrock, a teen targeted station that specializes in rap.
To that end, Bellanger has become more active in attracting youth than any American broadcaster. Four years ago, he created Skyblog, which now sports more than 11 million visitors a month (including nearly 300,000 from the U.S.). Bellanger has already reaped benefits of having an international blog, and now advertisers are showing interest in online vehicles that can go beyond national lines.
But blogging is simply great business. Bellanger notes that his radio revenue could lose up to 10% this year to online advertising spending, and he also points to lower listening to Skyrock as a result of digital competition. So as a result, he's moving fast to internationalize Skyblog because of his sense that there's only space for about a half dozen social networking sites globally. Obviously, he wants Skyblog to be one of them.
And as an article in the New York Times notes, Skyblog is having a positive impact on Skyrock. Their DJs can monitor the thousands of emails and texts (25,000 a day!) that come in, which clearly has an effect on content and tone. With a feedback loop that vast and that immediate, it's not hard for jocks to get an instantaneous feel for their audience - unlike answering the request line, one caller at a time.
Skyrock and Skyblog are a fascinating combination of traditional media and digital technologies coming together. We continue to point out that declining listening among teens in the States is alarming, but it is also inevitable, as choices become greater. Even Skyrock has suffered audience erosion. But their operation is clearly taking advantage of their brand equity and their influence to marry terrestrial and digital, ensuring a future where teens are very much involved in the process - and the revenue stream.
What a contrast to broadcasting in the U.S. where we continue to debate whether teens even matter.