Radio: another idea

So this is pretty much off the top of my head and it may already be in place and I just haven’t seen it. But I’d love to be able to go to a radio station’s website, call up its play list, find the song I just heard that I liked or remember wanting to hear again on my way to work this morning, and click on a link, and be taken directly to the purchase page at an online music store where I could buy that track.

I think this would be especially nifty in genres where particular recordings are as important as the song itself (such as classical … David Helfgot plays Rachminov – and pretty much everything else – entirely too fast but I might not be able to recognize the artist whose appropriately paced arrangement I like). But I think even in mainstream pop, country, and Christian music this would work too. All it does is collapse the space, time, and labor the consumer has to put into downloading the song she wants. That’s all, and it’s a lot.

I imagine that radio stations could set up arrangements not unlike the merchant accounts Amazon make available to people who direct buyers to Amazon products. I can imagine some potential (but also surmountable) issues of pay for play here, but putting those aside for the moment, the radio station is more likely to build a relationship with listeners who know there’s an advantage to listening to a station that makes it much easier not only to hear but acquire the music they want to listen to when they’re not listening to the radio (and yes, this means I don’t buy the argument that digital downloads erode radio’s base). Like I said, though, this has probably already been done, right?

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  1. RK wrote:

    You are definitely on to something here. For radio to remain relevant and economically viable in an ipod/mp3 world, it needs to more directly drive download sales (in addition to providing the convenience for consumers).

    Online playlists would be a solid first step, but I believe we’re headed a step further with next-generation teichnology. Imagine a radio (in the car or elsewhere) that you can connect your ipod or mp3 player to. When you hear your radio station play a song that piques your interest, you can then “bookmark” the song onto your device for further evaluation or possible purchase when the device is later connected to a PC or its own wi-fi or cellular internet receiver. It is coming.

    In the meantime, though, radio stations should seek ways to capitalize on the digital download revolution. Online playlisting would do just that. For Southern Gospel, a secondary benefit would be the profit-motive and pressure for record lablels to make digital downloads available for both current and past releases. Maybe it would take a little payola to drag SG into the 21st century market, but so be it.

  2. quartet-man wrote:

    Great idea! I had thought for a long time that playlists should be online so I can see who sang what song (when I hear on I like), but I never thought about a link to purchase. I don’t know if radio stations are to lazy to put up their lists, don’t think of it, it is too hard or expensive to do since they likely pay someone to do their site, or if they don’t want to let another station know their play list. :)

  3. Bob wrote:

    Have you ever listened to Launchcast - Yahoo’s online radio service? (

    This service has hundreds of stations by theme and genre, most of which you can listen to free on-line. Each song played displays the song, artist and album that you can immediately click on and buy.

    The cool thing about this system is the way you can build your own radio stations with artists and genres that you prefer. As you listen to the radio, you rate the song/artist/album played on a scale of 1 to 4 stars (or ‘never play again’). The system ‘learns’ your preferences and after a while becomes your ‘perfect’ radio station. You can also link to other users with like tastes, who become ‘influencers’, and songs they enjoy start to enter your playlist. I’ve discovered groups that I really enjoy through this feature.

    Of course you can scroll through a list of songs you’ve recently heard and buy them immediately.

    They have portable radio devices that use Wi-Fi to connect to the service, but they seem pretty expensive and limited.

    Sadly, no Southern Gospel exists on this service…

  4. CVH wrote:

    I don’t have an opportunity to listen to any SG stations - there are none near where I live and I don’t listen online - but I do program a 12-station network that plays Christian music. On our website we not only offer streaming audio but a live playlist that shows the song currently playing and what played for the previous thirty minutes.

    We’re in the midst of a redesign of the site which will hit in late May or early June and with that update we’ll also show the current weekly playlist of top songs; each will link to the artist website and to retail so listeners can purchase the album the song is from. We’ve had podcasts of author interviews and other features online for awhile and we feature a thumbnail of the book cover that links to If listeners purchase the title, we receive a very small cut. We’ll probably do the same with the music links. Plus listeners will be able to participate in online surveys of songs, blog, get concert and industry news and information, etc.

    One of the reasons we held off on linking to online music sources (purchase the record or downloads) is the relationship we have with Christian bookstores. We haven’t wanted to cut into their ‘turf’. But sadly the fact is many of them don’t carry a huge inventory and today’s listener/consumer wants the immediacy of being able to click and purchase right then. By the time you factor in the cost of gas to drive to the mall, online purchases, even with shipping and handling, are often competitive.

    The internet is where the future sales and marketing growth will happen for radio and we’re devoting more resources to that connection with listeners than ever before.

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