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Let’s call the whole thing off July 31, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, digital strategy, marketing, technology, web 2.0.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Whats wrong with this picture?

What's wrong with this picture?

Australian music manager Glen Wheatley’s latest project Stripe is set to launch. It is a digital radio service which will have 40 stations up by Christmas playing over the 3G network to any 3G enabled phone, and 100 by the end of 2009. Those wanting to have ad-free radio on their phones will apparently part with a little less than $10 a month for the privilege.

This would be funny if it wasn’t so painfully short-sighted. All together now: the epic, epic lulz.

It betrays just how deeply bereft of real strategic insight media is – and how sorely the media industry needs fresh DNA, instead of old dudes with the same old lame ideas.

Thanks Umair. Mind you he didn’t write that about Stripe, he wrote that about a misguided Wired article where old media guy #1 was berating new media guy #2 for spending time in Second Life as it wouldn’t help him sell more Coke. The point remains though.

Let’s do the why’s together so we all take something away:

  1. Why would I pay $10 a month for radio on my phone?
  2. Particularly me who does not listen to radio at all?
  3. Why in an age of increased personalisation will I believe you can satisfy me with someone else’s taste-making?
  4. Why create a service that relies on early-adopter up-take when the early-adopters do not listen to radio or value music in pure ones-and-zeroes terms?

Now, I imagine much of the VC money has already been sunk, unfortunate for those involved. If you guys with the money could just begin to understand that broadcasting in a one-to-many model is dying and being replaced with niche-casting and many-to-many, you might have a hope of creating something with lasting value.

This last quote from Programming Director Jarrod Graetz is killer:

“A great advantage of our service is that you don’t need a new device or gadget to hear us. If you’ve got 3G coverage, you can access your favourite music and programs from your (3G) mobile phone, and of course on broadband internet. No ad breaks, less interruptions, more music. We position ourselves as “What you want on radio” because we believe Stripe delivers what Australia wants.”

The bolding is mine (the lack of vision entirely their’s). I may not need a device to hear you, but I have a device anyway, it is called an iPod. It comes with NO interruptions and ONLY my favourite music and programs. See, it doesn’t actually matter if you do serve up what I want on radio, because I don’t want radio.


Image courtesy of Dave Goodman, with thanks to compfight.


1. Matt - July 31, 2008

Most. Insightful. Spot-on. Radio-marketing post. Ever. (Well, second-most). First John Farnham, then tax fraud, and now this; Glen Wheatley truly is the stupidest man in Australia.

2. Stuart McPhee - July 31, 2008

Question for Mr Wheatley: I barely listen to free radio so what makes you think that I am going to listen to paid radio?

3. Matt - July 31, 2008

(I just had a thought though, at least the people with the money will have the opportunity to learn some lessons about the music industry from the spectacular failure of Stripe)

4. Matt - August 1, 2008

Oh, oh, oh, (I’ll stop commenting in a second, promise) I just noticed that Stripe will have a ‘rage’ channel based on the ABC’s music show..

“Alternative, hits and new releases… The ABC’s all night music show now plays ALL DAY on Stripe.”

So, that would be, like, having Triple J play all day, for free, without ads… Innovative.

5. David Gillespie - August 1, 2008

That third one in a trio of comments is killer Matt, I actually giggled. Like having ad-free Triple J…hang on a sec…

(readers should check out Matt’s look at Triple J here –> http://www.e-cbd.com/zakazukhazoo/triplej/)

6. ribbo - August 1, 2008

This article doesn’t really say anything interesting, or even offer a suggested solution for the on-to-many model, niche markets exists, sure, but where are your stats backing any of this up? music isn’t selling, no one is interested in more problems got any solutions? ones that are viable in a shrinking Australian music market?, i don’t see how your niche model will work effectively, unless each band on the model has had major label support and has made a brand for themselves, and that has mainly be done through radio, its just another alternative, how else do people get their information on new artists? last.fm sure for nerds like you and i, but lets get realistic, your average muic punter doesnt know, or care, so why service just the early adopters? you are just another nay-sayer picking apart the music industry with their iPod full with illegal downloads and ‘promo’ releases, or an apple fanboi, either or, this article says nothing new.

7. David Gillespie - August 1, 2008

Ribbo – feel like I touched a nerve there, I mean no offense. Please understand you are free to comment away, but let’s keep the debate healthy and not disrespectful.

Now, first, go read The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, if will deliver stats in spades and makes the argument much better than I ever could. You’ll agree by the end of it that I am right and Mr. Wheatley (bless) is wrong.

The thing is music is selling – it’s just being dispersed amongst a wider audience. I agree with your point that it is hard for a band to exist without major label and radio support, at least it is under the old model. What we have currently is the old guard doing their utmost to maintain a sinking business model and re-align consumer behaviour to their whims instead of accepting that the genie is out of the bottle and we’re going to have to find new ways to operate.

The model you describe is one where a tiny percentage of bands make most of the money. What if instead of 1 band earning a million dollars a year, 5 bands got to earn $200,000? Sure it isn’t lifestyle of the rich and famous, but there exists a real opportunity to make a living doing what you love, which, last time I checked, was what musicians were after.

True, your average music punter doesn’t know about last.fm or Pandora, but the generation coming up now does. So we can work strategies that will get us by for another 5 years if we’re lucky, or come up with new ones that will take us well beyond this decade. Your choice, I’m with the latter.

And for the record, before you start name calling, you should do your research. You’ll find a guy over at http://myspace.com/davidgillespie who happens to look a lot like me, values music above almost all else, and is as interested as anyone in the changes this industry is going through. We’re all trying to find a way forward, I’m simply saying this one is not it.

Thanks for your time.

8. Oolong - August 1, 2008

I miss pandora. le sigh.

9. David Gillespie - August 1, 2008

I do too Oolong. Le sigh indeed…

10. Michelle Matthews - August 3, 2008

I SO miss Pandora too. I’m such a wannabe geek I even tried to change my proxy address to sneak back into the site using anonymous proxies from hidemyass.com when I can’t even work my TV remote. It didn’t work.

A local friend has a SONOS system with a Rhapsody subscription. Magic for choice but not easy to make a selection with so much choice.

11. Matt - August 15, 2008

For all those missing Pandora: http://blip.fm/invite/mattgranfield

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