Next Radio Conference

I’m a big fan of ideas.

I read about them, seek out things I can watch or listen to that have them in and, where I can, go to conferences where people reveal them.

Obviously I spend a lot of my time doing radio things and i’m always keen to hear what people have been up to in my sector. The difficulty is always finding events where people are prepared to share their ideas and where it’s cheap enough to go.

I’ve been talking to James Cridland about this. He’s been to loads of conferences – often because they get him to speak – and we’ve been comparing notes. We’ve chatted about events that have done something clever, have had great speakers, have been fun, have been drunken, have been rubbish, have been cheap, have been expensive and a million other things. We’ve been thinking about the Radio Festival, Music Radio, Radio at the Edge, the Academy’s monthly events, the Student Radio Conferences, RadioDays, the Radio Production Conference – all of them really.

We’ve been keen to find out if there’s a different way to do a radio conference. Can you make something inexpensive, fun and interesting? Can you create a radio conference that someone would take a day off work for and pay for themselves to go to?

So, we’re having a go.

It’s a radio conference about ideas. It’s called Next Radio. There’s just 120 tickets. It costs £99. You can get yours here.

We’ve been inspired by the TED Conferences and want to create something that’s driven by ideas and passion and is routed in radio. We’ve got sessions planned about talent, music, advertising, radioplayer, archives, social media and even memory. Today we’re announcing the first of our speakers, but we’ve got a few more to announce over the coming weeks.

There’s more information at the Next Radio website. I can’t wait to see you there.

Apple’s Cloud Announcement: Four Types of Music User

A whole wave of announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference today, but for me the most interesting thing is that the nature of music downloading has now changed.

Apple had two music announcements connected to its new iCloud service. The first was that any music you’ve bought through iTunes would now automatically sync across all of your iOS devices. Sensible and similar to what happens if you sync multiple devices manually to iTunes. The second was that for $25 a year a ‘MusicMatcher’ would catalogue all of your songs – however you’ve acquired them – and if detected as one of the 18m songs in iTunes, they would upgrade your copy to 256kbits and then make it available across all of your devices.

The files you get will be DRM-free MP3s, so once your initial year subscription runs out, anything you’ve matched remains in upgraded (and I assume now completely legal) form.

To me, the big shift is that previously there were two types of music – legal and illegal. Legal was music you’ve downloaded and paid for, music you had rented (through Napster/Spotify-esque service) or music you had streamed from a licensed provider. Illegal music was everything else.

Now though, I think there’s been a shift away from the status of the music to the status of the user.

Seemingly there are now four kinds of music user:

1. Buyer

Someone who purchases a track directly.

2. Thief

Someone who illegally downloads tracks.

3. Glutton

Someone who uses a music rental service – eg Spotify/Napster – where they pay for the privilege of any track on-demand for a monthly fee, available whilst they continue to subscribe.

4. Fixer

The new one. A fixer is someone who ‘acquires’ music and then licences themselves (and their collection) through a Cloud subscription.

In effect, the record companies have taken the step of regulating illegal consumption if it’s for personal use. Their gamble is that the majority of illegal users are reluctant thieves and would go legit for a small amount – $25 a year. But lots of $25’s potentially adds up to a significant new revenue stream. It’s an interesting, even enlightened, gamble – but will it pay off?

Tweeknotes 30th May – 5th June

A return to tweeknotes – things i’ve tweeted about in the past week and other things that have popped into my head.

Lots of news recently about X and Xtra Factor judges and hosts chopping and changing. We had months of “who’ll be the X-Factor USA hosts and judges” and we’ve had the Cheryl sacking/re-appointment stuff too. It’s a narrative that’s intertwined with the UK series as well, with a direct knock-on to who’ll be judging UK hopefulls. Similarly there’s been a bit of to-ing and fro-ing over the Xtra Factor hosts with a seeming last minute swap of the very talented Matt Edmondson to the, er, singer, Olly Murs.

I think the genius of all of this publicity is it makes the audience care. Surprising changes, before launch, prompts press and more importantly the audience to have an opinion. Good or bad, it brings you into the show’s world – massively improving the chances of you tuning in, partly to see if you opinion was right.

What’s also amazing is how few other media properties (and probably with the exception of Scott Mills) – radio shows – use narrative to bring audiences closer.

Other things popping up this week: