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James Cridland

RDE Blog: Grasp the chance to think big!

Pandora, the US music jukebox service, now has 3.6% of all radio listening in the US. With Spotify and Aupeo gaining traction in many European radio markets, should we panic?

Pandora’s success is down to two things. First, it has, undeniably, a good music jukebox service. (It’s not radio, of course; though it undoubtedly eats away at music radio audiences).

But the second thing is probably more important for us to learn from in Europe: its brand.

Who is Pandora in competition with? In New York, it’s in competition with Z100 and WPLJ. In San Francisco, it’s in competition with KFOG and Wild 94.9. It’s in competition with B96 in Chicago, Kiss 108 in Boston, Star 94 in Atlanta, KLUC in Las Vegas. In short, it’s in competition with hundreds of small radio services - all of which lack the marketing clout of the national brand that Pandora has. Pandora has a free run.

There’s no national music radio brand in the USA - or across Europe. We have no Europe-wide radio brands at all. You’ll find a Virgin Radio in a few countries; or an NRJ station or two - but there’s no proper competitor to increasingly pan-European threats like Spotify or Aupeo.

Turn on the television, and you’ll find global brands there - from CNN to MTV, BBC to Discovery to National Geographic. You can buy your GAP jeans, your Starbucks or Illy coffee, or your Apple computer almost anywhere across Europe. But turn on the radio, and it’s as if globalisation hasn’t happened.

This matters.

It matters because we’re thinking about radio in a local way; while our competitors are thinking globally. It matters because our eyes are on other radio competitors in our city, rather than other companies competing for our audiences from as far away as Spotify’s Stockholm or Aupeo’s Berlin. It matters because we ignore great ideas from radio in neighbouring countries, while we worry whether the new afternoon presenter on your local competition is taking audiences. It matters because your listeners are already global citizens, with more in common with the good folks of Seattle, Sydney or Saigon than you’d think.

Pandora’s success shows that having a clear, consistent product has never been more important in a world full of global brands and choices.

Radiodays Europe allows you to think further than your transmission area, or your country: something we rarely get the time to do. Grasp the chance to think big.