Thursdays are full of nostalgia. As a throwback thursday, you usually end up showing your old photographs. I don’t have too many of them, instead I would recap some of the ideas that had come (with or without the customary beer) while sitting at the local shacks or loitering around our office area in Kolkata.
Those were the days when music was in the air and radio jockeys a very common sight in my daily interactions. If you haven’t guessed it already, I used to work at a radio station (popularly known as 92.7 Big FM) and the job was to work out brand solutions for clients. Radio being a frequency medium was often relegated to the bottom of a media plan, thus executives working in radio stations had to work doubly hard to not just prove that it was an efficient advertising medium but also to work out creative means of presenting a brand to prove their point. Starting from the Programming Head to the security man, everyone was a poet, a thinker, a presenter, a voice over artist and a salesman in the station.
The solutions could mean anything from RJ integrating a brand’s name in his show to creating radio dramas that had enough brand connections in it. When I look at the new audio apps such as Spotify, JioSaavn, Amazon Music or Gaana, I see the same strategies making a comeback.
One of the other aspects was to work out creative means of addressing music playlists and driving an interest among the consumers. Radio stations are high on consumer connect programs in India — there are instances where Radio station executives helped flood victims to get home or put up a raft that could be cut loose from a hoarding as a promotional activity in Mumbai, a city that still goes underwater when heavy rains arrive. I haven’t seen too many other brands get so creative. In radio, every idea was listened to, even if not always accepted. That’s something.
The other phenomenon that defined a Programming executive’s life in a radio station was the constant flow of new artists. We had CDs coming in with a letter of love and sometimes the artists themselves would drop in unsolicited. It wasn’t a strange sight if you walked in and suddenly found a guy waiting for you with a guitar. He doesn’t know you, but since you are the first one in, he wouldn’t let you go till you listen to his song. The media houses had come up with quite a few reality and music shows to promote new artists… but sometimes there are just too many of them. Nor was there a way we could get all of these artists on-air too.
The music stock exchange
This was the time when we had this idea. How do you ensure that the right talent comes through (as many of them might find doing professional recording a bit too expensive) and is presented in the right way to the world? The answer was — what if people can invest in artists and can gain from them? Just like they gain from well performing stocks.
The idea was that of creating a Music Stock Exchange, i.e a site that will allow people to invest in musicians. Almost every musician visiting our station had a home-recorded cd (now it might have been just a Whatsapp message). We would put up these home recorded music as audio files on a website along with a stock price for each. Based on hedging by the users of the site, the stock price would go up or down. (Then the only online payment mode would have been debit/credit or Netbanking. Now, the payment mode can be a Paypal or a Bhim UPI as well). Based on the stock performance of a musician — we would pair them with the right support — such as a recording studio, a professional celebrity music arranger, a publicist, and possibly a music-video maker as well. Thus, a musician with a high stock price will get to perform in a world stage, get deals from TV Channels (and now OTT platforms), have his music featured in concerts. A certain portion of his pay and deals will go as dividends to his investors.
If I remember correctly, the plan had been suitably Powerpointed (with our signature black background for crazy plans) and had floated around, till the next big event hit us and we were again running for getting sponsorships, driving brand integrations and eventually the next job.
It might have been a bit premature considering the state of digital adoption then — but with Spotify and Amazon Music taking over, this might still work for a radio station to gun for its digital disruption.
So, what’s your throwback thursday idea of a digital disruption? Do share at firstname.lastname@example.org