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数字时代电台如何留住歌迷?

更新时间:2014-1-27 14:14:43 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Radio's Answer To Spotify? Play The Hits Over And Over
数字时代电台如何留住歌迷?

Synth-pop band Capital Cities has plenty of songs on its debut album that it wants to promote as singles -- if only radio programmers would allow it.

The band's hit, 'Safe and Sound,' is the only song most fans have heard: It has been playing on the radio for more than twao years. And because so many listeners now know the song, which peaked last year at No. 2 on radio's Top 40 chart, stations are afraid to take it out of rotation.

''Safe and Sound' just wasn't going away,' said Capital Cities' manager, Dan Weisman, who postponed plans last fall to promote the band's second single until later this year. 'You don't want to shove it down people's throats if they're not ready to move on.'

Faced with growing competition from digital alternatives, traditional broadcasters have managed to expand their listenership with an unlikely tactic: offering less variety than ever.

The strategy is based on a growing amount of research that shows in increasingly granular detail what radio programmers have long believed -- listeners tend to stay tuned when they hear a familiar song, and tune out when they hear music they don't recognize.

The data, coupled with the ballooning number of music sources competing for listeners' attention, are making radio stations more reluctant than ever to pull well-known hits from their rotations, extending the time artists must wait to introduce new songs.

The top 10 songs last year were played close to twice as much on the radio than they were 10 years ago, according to Mediabase, a division of Clear Channel Communications Inc. that tracks radio spins for all broadcasters.

The most-played song last year, Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines,' aired 749,633 times in the 180 markets monitored by Mediabase. That is 2,053 times a day on average. The top song in 2003, 'When I'm Gone' by 3 Doors Down, was played 442,160 times that year.

That is partly because about 70 new Top 40 stations have sprouted up over the past decade, said Clear Channel's president of national programming, Tom Poleman, while stations specializing in rock and smooth jazz have dwindled.

But other radio formats are getting more repetitive, too, while the line is blurring between pop songs and songs that once fit more neatly in other categories. Artists and listeners are embracing a wider variety of sounds as they jump from genre to genre on digital playlists.

The top country song last year, Darius Rucker's 'Wagon Wheel,' was played 229,633 times, while 2003's top country hit, Lonestar's 'My Front Porch Looking In,' got only 162,519 spins.

The intensifying repetition is largely a response to the way radio stations now measure listenership.

Six years ago the industry began tracking listeners in many radio markets with pager-like devices called Portable People Meters, which monitor all the stations that selected listeners hear throughout the day -- in their homes, cars or public spaces. Radio programmers can watch how many of these people tune in and out when they play a given song.

In the past, the same listeners recounted their listening habits in handwritten diaries that were far less detailed or accurate.

Programmers also take other research into account when building their prime-time playlists, like listener surveys and social-media buzz, since people-meter data -- based on relatively tiny sample sizes -- isn't perfect.

But the numbers are impossible for advertisers to ignore, and because more listeners generally tune out when they hear a song they don't know, radio stations have carved out special time slots for new music so that they can keep familiar tunes in the regular lineup and preserve their ratings.

Three years ago Clear Channel launched a program called 'Artist Integration' that plays snippets of new songs during advertising time instead of music-designated time. Clear Channel itself is buying the ad slots in order to promote new records. In Los Angeles, hip-hop station Power 106 does its experimenting with new tracks on 'New Music Tuesdays,' which airs in the afternoon.

Old-fashioned terrestrial radio remains by far the most popular source of music in the U.S. and the way that most consumers say they discover new music, according to Nielsen research.

In addition to playing fewer hits more often, the radio industry has taken a range of other measures to hold on to its audience in the digital age. In August, for instance, broadcasters rolled out an app called NextRadio -- preloaded onto many Sprint phones -- that lets smartphone users listen to FM radio without draining their batteries or data plans.

Songwriters and publishers of the top-spun songs benefit from the extra airplay they get now, because they get paid royalties for every radio spin at a rate that increases once a song becomes a hit, thanks to the way performing-rights organizations distribute publishing royalties.

For record labels and artists, who don't earn royalties from airplay in the U.S., the growing wait time to launch new singles makes it even harder to sell albums. Album sales fell 8% in 2013 to 289.4 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

'It's easier to sell albums when you have multiple hit singles,' said Mr. Weisman, Capital Cities' manager.

Veteran radio promoter Richard Palmese said he tells programmers they should spin a new song at least 150 times during peak listening hours -- basically rush hours -- before they draw any conclusions about whether fans like it or not, since many songs take time to grow on people.

That can be a hard sell. When Mr. Palmese first asked Top-40 stations to play The Lumineers' acoustic-guitar-driven single 'Ho Hey' in 2012, for example, many responded incredulously, making jokes along the lines of: 'What are you giving me, a Peter, Paul and Mary record?'

Mr. Palmese gave up and set out to land the record on adult-alternative stations instead; six months later it peaked at No. 2 on the Top 40 chart.

Sometimes there is simply no room for new tunes, despite a programmer's wishes. Ebro Darden, vice president of programming at New York's Hot 97, said he didn't have the space to immediately add a single from Wiz Khalifa's album 'O.N.I.F.C.' when it came out last winter, even though he liked it, the record label had bought ad time, and Mr. Khalifa -- who would come in to do promotional interviews -- is one of hip-hop's biggest stars.

In the new intensely scrutinized world of radio, said Mr. Darden, 'taking risks is not rewarded, so we have to be more careful than ever before.'

合成器流行乐队Capital Cities的首张专辑中有很多歌曲是它想以单曲形式推出的——只要电台节目制作人同意的话。

该乐队的人气歌曲"Safe and Sound"是唯一一首大多数歌迷都听过的歌曲:这首歌在电台已经播放了两年多时间。正因为那么多听众现在对这首(在去年的电台前40名歌曲排行榜上高居第二位的)歌曲耳熟能详,各家电台现在不敢把它撤出循环播放的名单。

“‘Safe and Sound’不会就那么下线的,” Capital Cities乐队的经理丹·韦斯曼(Dan Weisman)说,“如果人们还没打算接纳下一首歌,你是不能强行硬灌的。”韦斯曼把原定要在去年秋天推出乐队第二首单曲的计划推迟到了今年晚些时候。

面对数字音乐媒体日益激烈的竞争,传统广播电台设法用一种匪夷所思的手段来拓展它们的听众数量:播放比过去更少的音乐类型。

这一策略的根据在于,越来越多的研究日渐具体地证明了电台节目制作人早已深信不疑的观点——听众在听到熟悉的歌曲时往往会继续收听下去,而当他们听到自己没有听过的音乐时就会换台。

那些数据,再加上为争取听众注意力而不断膨胀的音乐来源数量,让电台更不情愿把热门歌曲从它们的循环播放名单中撤掉,从而延长了歌手推出新歌必须等待的时间。

根据清晰频道通讯公司(Clear Channel Communications Inc.)属下专为所有广播公司跟踪电台播放唱片时间的Mediabase机构提供的数据,去年的十大金曲在电台的播放时间差不多是十年前的两倍。

去年播放最多的一首歌是罗宾·西克(Robin Thicke)的"Blurred Lines"。这首歌在Mediabase监控的180家市场上播放了749,633次,也就是平均每天播放2,053次。2003年的榜首歌曲、三门倒(3 Doors Down)乐队演唱的“When I'm Gone”当年的播放次数仅为442,160次。

清晰频道公司负责全国节目规划的总裁汤姆·普尔曼(Tom Poleman)说,部分原因是因为在过去十年里涌现了大约70家新的跻身排名前40的电台,而专门播放摇滚乐和轻柔爵士乐的电台却减少了。

不过其它类型的电台音乐也越来越多地在重复播放,而流行歌曲与曾经明显属于其它类别的音乐之间的界线则开始变得模糊。歌手和听众在数字媒体的播放列表中从一种类型的音乐跳转到另一种类型时对各种各样的声音都是欣然接受的。

去年名列榜首的乡村歌曲、达赖厄斯·拉克(Darius Rucker)演唱的“Wagon Wheel”被播放了229,633次,而2003年最有人气的乡村音乐、Lonestar组合的“My Front Porch Looking In”却只有162,519次的播放次数。反复播放次数的不断增加主要是对电台现在统计收听率的方式做出的反应。

六年前,这一行业开始在很多电台市场用一种形如寻呼机、名为便携式人员收视测量仪(Portable People Meters)的东西跟踪听众。这种仪器对选定的听众整天收听的所有电台进行监控——在他们的家中、车里或公共场所。电台节目制作人可以观察到自己播放某首歌曲时这些人中有多少在收听、有多少改听了其它节目。

过去,同样的这些听众是通过手写日记的方式描述自己的收听习惯的,那种方式在详细性或准确度上要差得多。

电台节目制作人在制定黄金时段的歌曲播放清单时还考虑了别的研究数据,比如听众调查和社交媒体热议的音乐,因为人员收听测量仪采集的数据——基于相对很小的取样规模——不太完美。

然而,广告商是不可能忽略这些数字的,而且由于听众在听到一首他们并不知道歌曲时,更多的人通常会换台,电台于是开辟了专门的时段播放新歌,这样他们可以在正常的节目档期中保留熟悉的旋律,从而维持收听率。

三年前,清晰频道公司推出了一档名为《歌手荟萃》(Artist Integration)的节目,在广告时间段内,而并非在安排好的音乐时间内播放新歌的片段。为了推出新唱片,清晰频道公司自己也在购买广告时段。在洛杉矶,嘻哈音乐电台Power 106是在《周二新音乐》(New Music Tuesdays)节目中试播新歌,播出时间在下午。

根据尼尔森(Nielsen)公司的调查数据,老式的地面无线电台仍然是美国最受欢迎的音乐来源,也是大多数消费者所说的他们发现新歌的途径。

在数字时代,电台行业除了更频繁地播放为数更少的热门歌曲之外,还采取了一系列其它措施来抓住听众。比如,去年八月,广播公司推出了一款名为NextRadio的应用程序——预装在很多Sprint(美国电信运营商——译注)手机里——该应用让智能手机用户在不消耗电池电量或数据流量的情况下可以收听调频(FM)电台。

播放次数最多的那些歌曲的创作者和发行商从目前的额外播出中获得了益处,因为每次电台播放歌曲,他们都按一定比率获得了版税。由于版权管理组织对版税分配的方案进行了规范,一旦一首歌曲成为了热门金曲,版税税率还要增加。

对于唱片公司和歌手(他们在美国是不能从歌曲播放中获得版税的)来说,发行新单曲等待的时间越来越长,这让专辑的销售愈加困难。根据尼尔森音乐调查(Nielsen SoundScan)的数据,2013年的专辑销售下降到了2.894亿,跌幅 为8%。

Capital Cities乐队的经理韦斯曼说:“当你有多首热门单曲时,专辑销售就容易一些。”

资深电台创办人理查德·帕尔梅塞(Palmese)说,他告诉节目制作人,他们应该在收听高峰时间——基本上就是交通的高峰时间——至少播放一首新歌150遍,然后才能得出歌迷是否喜欢这首歌的结论,因为很多歌曲是慢慢让人喜欢上的。

那样做可能有强行推销之嫌。比如,当帕尔梅塞2012年首次让排名前40位的电台播放闪耀乐队(The Lumineers)用原声吉他伴奏的单曲"Ho Hey"时,很多电台都心生疑虑,他们沿用歌词中的话对其开玩笑说:“你给我的是什么,是彼得、保罗还是玛丽的唱片?”

帕尔梅塞放弃了,转而将这张唱片放到成人另类音乐电台播出。六个月以后,这首歌就荣登了40首最热门歌曲排行榜的第二名。

有时候尽管节目制作人希望播出新歌,但就是没有播出新歌的空间。纽约Hot 97电台负责节目制作的副总裁埃夫罗·达登(Ebro Darden)说,维兹·哈利法(Wiz Khalifa)的专辑“O.N.I.F.C.”去年冬天发行时,他没有地方可以立马加进一首专辑里的单曲,尽管他很喜欢这张专辑、唱片公司也已购买了广告时间,而且哈利法——后来到电台来做了宣传访谈——还是嘻哈音乐最大牌的歌星之一。

在备受关注的电台行业,达登说:“冒险是得不偿失的,因此我们必须比以往任何时候更加小心。”

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