Creation and Curation: It’s all about Content

Radio’s future lies in curation and branding. Comment from Peter Saxon.

Reports from the U.S. suggest that iTunes Radio will soon add non-music content to its programming. Where will much of that content come from? Programs that already exist, much of it from established radio stations.

Wow! What a revolutionary idea! Well, not really.

Some years ago I wandered into a watch store in Woodbury Common, an outlet centre north of New York. The store specialised in a wide range of designer branded watches. Not “designer watches” such as Rolex, Tag Heuer or Patek Philippe but watches made for brands whose core products are clothing or perfume such as DKNY, Timberland, Nautica and Chanel.

Out of the blue, I asked the sales assistant whether they stocked any Timex watches. In the 1960’s and ‘70’s one in three watches sold in the U.S. was a Timex. Although the brand is making a muted recovery now, standing in that store in 1998 it seemed that the Timex brand had vanished, gone the way of Pan Am, Ansett and soon, Holden.

The sales assistant looked at me as if she knew something I didn’t (which she did) and told me, “Sir, every watch in this store is manufactured by Timex.”

On the inside, all the watches in the store were the same. They all tell the same time. Just the faces, the bands, the packaging is different. But that’s what people are buying – style not time. So, it may well be that Timex still sells around one in every three watches in the U.S. as well as commanding a healthy share of the international watch market – just under a variety of other names.

Radio content could well end up with greater reach than ever before by being broadcast on it’s originating station and then as a compnent on a variety of other ‘curated’ media.

When iTunes Radio was launched just two months ago, I wroteFor all it’s bells and whistles in terms of selecting and playing music, iTunes Radio can’t tell you tomorrow’s weather in Cairns or how long it will take you to get to Tullamarine from Swanston Street. It won’t give you the cricket score and more importantly, a summary of the game. For all its brilliance as a juke box with a brain, iTunes Radio lacks heart, soul and a sense of humour.” 
Now iTunes Radio is planning to fill that great void with personality and content from actual radio stations. I guess it shows that Apple does not see itself in the content creation business so much as the hardware and software application business. In other words, iTunes Radio is no more a radio network than it is a record company.

Why would they try to create new content to compete in a world already awash with extraordinarily compelling material? There’s so much of it that the average person could not possibly uncover even the smallest fraction that they’d be interested in.
That’s where content curation comes in. It seems only 10 minutes ago it was called aggregation, now it’s curation. In the new paradigm content needs to be created and then curated.

Curation is the art of choosing material from an oversupplied marketplace to appeal to a particular audience of time poor consumers.

As Duane Doobie, Music Editor/Director of our namesake in the United States explainsThe process that separates our world’s great museums from warehouses storing relics – giving them LIFE and RELEVANCE and IMMEDIACY – is curation and presentation.

Through its websites and social outlets, radio has been curating third party content to suit their target audience from around the web for several years now.

Apps like Omny, in which SCA has bought a substantial share, allow consumers to curate their own content from a broad variety of radio stations and streaming services. Now iTunes will add real radio to its content base. Others are sure to follow.

15 years ago, Steve Vizard gave the Andrew Olle Media Lecture predicting that in the ‘future’ when ‘content is king’ the  spoils will go to the content makers who can ‘slice the salami the thinnest.’

Seems he was right.


Peter Saxon

Note: This article was first publihsed on radioinfo on June 1. It was locked and available to suscribers only.

Museum Photo: shutterstock