Friday, April 11, 2008

Filling Streaming Breaks

I’m a big fan of Internet streaming. It gives listeners around the world -- and in your own backyard -- the chance to hear what your station has to say. Just like with “regular” radio, though, there are good streams and bad streams, and one of the things that sticks out to me most is what different stations do to fill streaming commercial breaks. The first goal for everybody should be to sell commercials to fill those breaks; to turn your Internet stream into a revenue stream. But if you haven’t sold enough spots to fill all of those breaks, what do you do? You could run the cheesy music beds that your streaming company provides, but those don’t do your station much good. They beat dead air, but that’s about it. I think there are four other great choices to consider:

Artist Content: Talk to your record reps about this. Many record companies have audio that’s specifically designed for streaming. Surrounded by your imaging, it’s a pretty painless way to get some topical artist content on your stream. Lots of those streaming artist segments come in a variety of lengths, so you should be able to find something that works for you. You probably also have a collection of audio from interviews your station has done with artists. See how you can creatively repurpose that audio.

Morning Show Promos: Task your morning show with putting together (or at least giving you audio for) a new promo every day. If you’re not already producing a morning show promo every day, this is a great way to do something for your stream that can also help your over-the-air product. Don’t let any promo run for too many days, but you may be able to run at least some of the pieces for a few days, so that you don’t burn out any one promo too quickly.

Station Promos: Don’t limit yourself to just promoting your morning show. If there’s something from another daypart that’s compelling, create a promo for it. Or if you’re running other promos on the air (concerts, other prizes, VIP club, etc.), make sure you also run them on your stream.

“Oh, wow” Songs: Consider filling some breaks with music that’s just a little bit different than what you usually play on the air. The songs could be slightly older or slightly newer than what you typically play. Just make sure they’re not so far off of your musical focus that they become confusing to listeners or hurt your programming strategies. You could present those songs as “A exclusive.”

Just like with any other “regular” audio, you need to make sure that everything on your stream has an expiration date. It doesn’t matter if a listener hears it on their radio or on their computer, outdated is still outdated.

When you’re putting this audio together, realize that not every interview, promo or song is going to be just the right length for your needs. Make sure you’re armed with opening and closing imaging of various lengths so that you can make every streaming break time out perfectly.

If you have other ideas about filling streaming breaks, whether you’ve implemented them or not, I’d love to hear about them!