Tag Archives: Uber

Radio’s Jobs Didn’t Move to Mexico

75It seems like no matter what line of work you’re in, someone is finding a way to take your job away. If you’re in coal mining, you think the EPA is doing it to you. If you’re in manufacturing, you think its Mexico or China or some other country that pays their workers less and offers no benefits. But is that really what’s happening to jobs?

Where are the (Radio) Jobs?

I got into radio when I was in high school because I wanted to be a disc jockey. (Discs were what records were once called. Records were how we played music on the radio off of turntables, after live musicians were replaced by recorded music on the radio.) My DJ days are long behind me, but I don’t remember anyone from my earliest days being upset that records replaced the need for live musicians to play music on the radio. Do you?

Musician’s Union

I was also a musician. Played trombone. This was another way I earned money to go to college in addition to my radio work.

A fund set-up to promote live music from the playing of recordings on the radio is where the money came from to pay for my performances in local community concert bands. It was called the “Musicians Performance Trust Fund.”

To be eligible to be paid under this fund, you had to join the local musicians union AFL-CIO. I was a union member at age 15.

Truck Drivers

As high wage manufacturing jobs were leaving, many turned to the profession of truck driver. Truck drivers are well paid and people thought, let’s see them automate that. Truck driving employees have been untouched by globalization and automation. You can’t send truck driving in Ohio to be done by person living in Mexico. But that other factor, automation, is now on the horizon.

Uber Driverless Truck Delivers 50,000 Beers

I’m sure you’ve heard about driverless cars and that many expect they will be a reality by 2020 (3 years from now). But while many in the radio industry worried about the loss of radio listening in the car if the car starts driving itself and now everyone can watch TV or surf the internet, I worried that more middle class jobs would soon be automated, never to return.

Wired magazine reported in late October of 2016 how OTTO (Uber bought this company for $680 million) was driving the beer truck down the highway in Colorado without a human behind the wheel.

So it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize that we soon will see driverless cabs, buses, trains, planes, boats and a whole lot of people formerly known as the middle class will be out-of-work.

This same thing is happening in higher education too via the internet.

The Fate of the DJ

So where did the radio jobs, like being a disc jockey (DJ) go? They were high-teched. Automated. The industry calls it “voice tracked.” The very technology that did away with the need to have live studio musicians playing music now no longer needs the person that played the recordings of those musicians.

To radio personalities this is not news. It’s been that way since the late 20th Century.

To the multi-tasking, hard-working, over-committed and under-paid middle class it might have seemed as nothing had changed. Heck, they might have even seen the change as an improvement. Certainly recorded music was better in some ways than live studio musicians as it provided more variety in musical entertainment.

It’s Technology, Stupid

The wonderful high-tech devices designed to make our lives so much easier are also taking away the well-paying jobs that created the middle class of the 20th Century.

What’s the world’s 21st Century plan to deal with this change?

Ad Supported Media

The current crisis in ad supported media is that in a world of infinite media choices, and unlimited advertising avails, the money that used to be enjoyed from the sale of advertising is now less than previously realized.

About two years ago I wrote in this blog an article about what I saw as the future of ad supported media. I wrote it after reading Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the 21st Century.” I went back and re-read that article and see the trend lines of the graph on page 357 still all moving in the same direction and that should give us all pause.Picketty Chart on page 357

21st Century Media Business Model

All media is moving to a pay-for-play model. HBO, Showtime, Hulu, iTunes Radio, SiriusXM, CBS All Access, Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify etc. The ad supported model is coming to an end and the pay for what you want is replacing it.

The Wall Street Journal reported in the 4th quarter of 2016 that streaming revenues off-set declining sales of CDs and digital downloads.

People now rent what they want versus own.

And where does that leave your business?

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Digital Feudalism

I follow Jeremiah Owyang on Twitter. He’s been observing, writing and talking about the new collaborative or sharing economy for some time now. He says it’s the future and where all business is headed.

You might have heard of Uber (the taxi company that owns no cars) or Airbnb (the lodging company that owns no rooms) etc. and how they are growing by leaps and bounds. The venture capital is flowing into these new business models leveraging this collaborative concept.

So you can imagine my surprise to read this headline: “Jeremiah Owyang just dropped a bomb in Paris.” (Not literally, but figuratively) The “bomb” being the reality that “the driving force behind this disruptive movement isn’t peer relationships with customers,” but “the one percent own the collaborative economy.”

Why was this a stunning announcement? Because the concept of this new value proposition called the Collaborative Economy “is organic, peer-to-peer digital interaction to create opportunities that bypass outmoded processes of brick and mortar businesses.”

Much like I wrote about in my blog post “The Future of Ad Supported Media.

Owyang was revealing the dark side of this new economy. The rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer. While some tried to dress this new sharing economy in the clothes of Ronald Reagan’s “Trickle-Down” economics, the reality is clear; that’s not what’s really happening. The world’s wealth-gap continues to expand and it’s picking up speed.

For media companies, this new economy is seen as sharing of thoughts, ideas, information and creation via the Internet. The result has seen the number of dominant media companies go from somewhere around fifty back in the 1980s to about five around the turn of the century.

The old ways of doing business – printing newspapers & magazines or broadcasting over radio & television – are dying.   The “smart money” is moving into digital marketing and advertising. The party’s over, turn off the lights, it’s time to go home – OR IS IT?

Have you heard about ad blocking?

It turns out this a big deal and growing exponentially. The advertising industry has simply looked the other way as though it didn’t exist, but it does.

While only about 15% or so of the US folks are using an ad blocking extension, other countries around the world are approaching 40%. Gaming sites are reported to be even worse with over 80% of their ads being blocked by gamers. Frederic Filloux goes into a lot more detail in his blog post titled “Ad Blocks’ Doomsday Scenarios.

This could be a real opportunity for radio especially. But it needs to look in the mirror, put its big boy pants on and do what it knows it should have been doing all along.

Barry Drake spells it out better than I ever could in his book “40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls” (which I highly recommend you pick up and read). Barry writes the following prescription for radio’s future:

“…there must be investment, the fuel necessary to attack the four major issues.

In Programming:

  • Fresh content to attract a new generation of listeners, 95 million millennials

  • Promotion and advertising to achieve prominence

In Sales:

  • Severe reduction and limits to inventory  (Not a gimmick, smart business)

  • Contact with the BOSS (calling on decision makers by local sellers)

The very entity that caused so much grief is going to eat its own tail.

This is radio’s next big opportunity to reinvent itself and reassert itself as the powerful medium that it always was.

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