Audio Futures

By Ed Shane


I was pleased to have been in the audience at researcher Mark Ramsey’s invitation-only “Hivio” conference the first week of June.  Ramsey calls it an “Audio Future Festival”; however, most of the information relates to today as well as to the future (whenever that is).


If there was a theme to Hivio, it came during opening remarks: “Don’t fall in love with distribution.  Fall in love with content.”  Distribution channels will morph.  Content is what people want, regardless of how they receive it.


Mark also urged content developers to “Go big or go home.”  His recommendation for content – actually, it’s more a mantra:  “Big, Unique, Meaningful, Star-filled Things, Everywhere.”  


“Big” reflects what movie companies do – putting sizeable investment in a smaller number of assets.  “Everywhere” reinforces the distribution remark: Put your content where the content consumer will find it.


Talent Search


Internet phenom Andrea Russett, whose YouTube views total 50 million–plus, was approached by radio’s Phil Becker of L&L Broadcasting to deliver her huge fan base to his station when he ran the Oasis Group in Ft. Wayne.  Thanks to him, Andrea’s fame spread to other stations, then reality TV came calling, and Andrea moved to Los Angeles. The recommendation is to use YouTube to find emerging talent for local stations. 


Many musicians have found YouTube fertile territory to help listeners discover new music.


To me, Andrea’s appearance underscored the large number of sub-cultures that lurk below the surface of mainstream media.  For example, DigiTour and DigiFest create meeting places for “YouTubers.”  A recent New York area DigiFest attracted 12,500 people.  Becker joked, “I’ve seen fewer people than that at a Jason Derulo concert!”  


Andrea began her YouTube postings at age 15 and she’s 18 now.  




A high point of Hivio was Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute, which stages trade shows for content creators.  He outlined the importance of cross-platform marketing and pointed out that several organizations are creating content factories to promote their brands:


The Wall Street Journal produces videos for their advertisers and acts as an in-house agency (competing with agencies that buy the paper).


Coca Cola has a content division called “Content 20/20.”


Kraft took their free Food magazine to a subscription model and now people pay for information that once was free.  (“More cume than the Food Network,” Rose said.)


Red Bull has concert and event marketing arms plus video production.  (“A marketing company that happens to produce an energy drink.”)


Rose has a test for content: “How are we delighting them?”




Jerry Rocco of 22 Digital feels that Facebook is more important than a Web presence, in spite of recent changes in Facebook’s newsfeed policies.  Programs on the CW network, for example, bypass their own websites in favor of direct engagement via social networks while their shows are on the air.  (TV shows are a different breed, of course; however, the need for “engagement” is not specific to any medium and involves us all.)  


Mark Middo, a “Growth Hacker” from Australia, feels that it’s not about how many customers we get to our Facebook page.  Rather, it’s how many additional connections each customer brings. 


In his words, “Shares make the sharer look better” among their peers. 


Middo has a perspective on “local.”  To him it means a “target group,” not a geographic group.  People of like interests are “local.”  So his priorities are (1) local, (2) mobile, and (3) social (using social media).  


Both Rocco and Middo are in favor of paid positions on the newsfeed.  “Sharing is not contagious,” Middo said, meaning you have to create a reason to share. 




Emma Coats, a former Pixar story developer, stressed the importance of story telling, a point reinforced by several presenters.  What’s the most important element of a story?  “The end,” she said. 


A Pandora sales rep said that apps are more engaging with audio, even audio with no graphics.  This should be encouraging to artists.    


There’s streaming video of the conference (you’ll notice buffering issues) at http://hivio.com  Registration is required, but they only ask for name and email.  


Ed Shane is publisher of Best In Texas Magazine and the Texas Music Chart




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