'Play It, Say It' Rolls Out At CBS Radio
Strassell Offers Audio Examples Of Strategy
June 2, 2011 at 10:52 AM (PT)
It was last week (NET NEWS 5/24) that ALL ACCESS first told you that CBS RADIO Pres./CEO DAN MASON had sent out an internal e-mail that pledged to work more closely with record companies and their artists by doing more to identify the music titles CBS RADIO stations play. "Effective immediately, CBS RADIO Contemporary, Rock, Urban and Country stations will increase the integration of title and artist information on new music releases in an effort to personalize, and drive sales of the product," he wrote. "We will also be expanding our radio play history online as far back as several years, providing a living synopsis of the songs we feature on the air for anyone to access."
That move is now being discussed in the mainstream press, with THE NEW YORK TIMES writing, "It would seem one of the basic tasks of any disk jockey: tell listeners the name of the song they just heard. But last week the head of a major radio company felt compelled to instruct its programmers to start identifying more of the songs played on the air, by title and artist name."
MASON told THE TIMES, "that at some indeterminate point in history -- he and other radio veterans place it at the mid-1980s -- song identification began to vanish from the air as programmers struggled to squeeze out anything considered 'clutter.' You were always conscious about the amount of talk you would put on. But the truth is that people tune in and tune out, and it was probably underestimated at the time how much people really wanted that information."
For years, record companies placed stickers on records and CDs saying, "When you play it, say it," so this move by CBS RADIO comes as good news.
"At one point in our culture there were well-schooled retailers who could help people figure out what that song was, because they wanted to buy it," said EMI MUSIC EVP/Marketing & Promotion GREG THOMPSON. "In this day and age that doesn't exist," he told THE TIMES.
The Nuts & Bolts Of 'Play It, Say It'
CBS SVP/Programming GREG STRASSELL told ALL ACCESS, "Not to overstate this, but we all think it's amazingly important. DAN was in a meeting with a label head and it was an 'Oh Wow' moment. We have chosen to be as relevant as possible and this small but important concept will step this up. And it's an on-going process as creativity doesn't happen in a box.
"If you sell a new song as entertainment or think of it that way, it's not PPM clutter. Care about the music, present the music, and educate your staffs about the importance of identifying music, as we have all been told that this was clutter. And in a PPM world we're all clutter-sensitive. To us this is a no-brainer but it wasn't being done."
STRASSELL said CBS is not taking a cookie-cutter approach, either. "This is not a one-size fits all strategy -- and DAN has challenged our programmers to make it work for each situation. That's why each format VP has a spin count that we're initially going with as guideline for a song to become familiar, and it's fluid -- it will adjust as necessary to do more or less. It's a great start and we're going to keep learning.
"Our reasoning is that a hook becomes more familiar first to the ear, than putting that together with a title/artist -- so we're here to speed up that process. We're here to be better partners for not only the listeners, but artists and labels. This relevancy is a win-win-win."
Personalized Artist/Listener IDs
"For our Country stations, artists have always made themselves available. At KNCI/SACRAMENTO, WYCD/DETROIT and WUSN/CHICAGO, they've come up with some creative artist IDs -- they are only 15 seconds each -- but they help sell the new song and identify it in a creative manner.
"And, VP/Top 40 DOM THEODORE and his team have come up with some personalized listener new music IDs that really sound great and use peer influence to get the message across."
STRASSELL believes it's thinking like this that not only adds relevancy to stations, but separates them from music services like PANDORA. "Doing something creative like this has got to add value to that song's play over and above just playing it. You can't add a price tag to this -- but the benefit has got to be apparent. We are very excited about what we are already seeing as a result of this new effort."