Every six weeks or so, my buddy Murph calls me in a lather. "Quick! Put on — — (radio station)!" I dutifully do as he asks, and invariably, either a 'classic' Triumph or Rush song will be playing, and we'll both burst out laughing.
OK. This requires some explanation.
It's obviously a very inside joke. Murph and I both grew up in Buffalo, and now we both coincidentally live in Boston. Growing up in the shadow of Canada, Buffalo got a lot of Canadian bands on the radio. In the 80s, when we were coming up, the two biggest Canadian imports were Triumph and Rush. In 2011, hearing either band on the radio is the equivalent of a full lunar eclipse. So when it happens, we revel in it, reliving both our youth and the sounds of home.
It just happened last night on my drive home. As I basked in the final thirty seconds of AWESOMENESS that is Triumph's magnus opus, "Fight the Good Fight", I was struck by something.
Things have changed.
I have access to Rhapsody, Spotify, Slacker, Grooveshark, and a host of other online music resources, to say nothing of iTunes. I could listen to "Fight the Good Fight" any time I damn well please. I never do because I only enjoy it now in a pseudo-ironic sense. I giggle at how dated it sounds and marvel that some jock in a major metro put it on during 2011 drive-time! Where my joy is 100% sincere, however, is in sharing that moment, that joke, with someone else who's in on it. Hearing it by myself would have been funny. Listening to it simultaneously with a buddy made it sublime.
I'm 42. Maybe it happens, but I don't think the 20-somethings or 30-somethings get that communal bond of radio-- the "live-ness" of it. It meant something to people my age and older for whom radio was the primary means of consuming music. It’s no longer the primary means, I’d argue. I think that bond, that affection for radio as a marker of moments, is largely gone among iGen. I don't lament it or worry about it. I just note it. Things change. Circle of life.
But what if there was a midway point for radio? What if you could listen to what you want and act as your own music curator, but also share music with your social graph at the same time?
At Triton Digital, we're investing heavily in ways for listeners to have their cake and eat it too in this fashion. We want our clients to not just hold audience, but also grow it. We feel one of the best ways is by deputizing a station's audience to go out and recruit a wider audience in their social network through easy-to-use technology. Listeners will demand give-and-take, as will broadcasters. We’re betting they’ll meet in the middle, even though they may have started at opposite ends—total control versus no control.
In the end, I think people are people. They like time to themselves, listening to something very specific to their tastes, but they also like communal moments where they may give a little on content, but gain a lot on emotional satisfaction.
A social media player might be just the thing to bridge that generational and technical gap. No less a prophet than Rush's Geddy Lee offers this warning to those who’d hold back innovation, "Be cool or be cast out."