One of my regular listeners chatted with me the other night when January's edition of The American Bottom 45 first aired, and he expressed concern that I had a sparse number of listeners even though I had a great idea for the show's concept. I am fully aware that my audience could easily be bigger, and I gave him 3 theories on why things are the way they are with my station right now:
1. The majority of the material I play makes the average music fan scratch his/her head(as in "I don't know this one, that one, etc."). My goal has always been to introduce...or in some cases, reintroduce...people to the other side of oldies music, which to me consists of records that stiffed due to lack of promotion, lack of quality, or lack of proper time to get heard. I guess the main thing I'm not realizing is that most people want to first be drawn in with some classics before giving a few obscurities a chance.
2. I took the station out of the Shoutcast listings a while back. That may have been a stupid thing to do since Shoutcast is arguably the #1 internet radio directory out there and they are partnered with many mobile application devices, yet there is another side of the coin with them. A lot of the popular stream ripping programs rely on their directory, and I just can't in good conscience open up the station to these programs who mainly connect whenever I happen to play a song that is on someone's "wish list." However, I am considering going public once again on Shoutcast because I have taken a lot of DRM measures(meaning I have "dirtied" up a lot of the tracks on my playlists). It really baffles me that someone would want to waste a lot of time trying to edit things out just to get a workable track for his/her collection when just a little bit of googling savviness would yield more satisfying results. But whatever...there may be some legitimate Shoutcast users out there, so I'll probably be back. And speaking of the ripping programs, this leads me to #3...
3. I have come to the conclusion that the typical internet radio audience is made up of mostly those who intend on recording, whether it be for time-shifting purposes or for splitting a stream into convenient, individual files. With all of the preventive measures I have in place(crossfading, metadata changes screwing up the beginning and ending points of the tracks, constant sweeper inclusions, and voiceovers), I'm pretty sure I have scared off a good portion of that "audience."
I don't intend on changing anything about #3; I'd rather have some personality and station branding as part of the flow instead of sounding like some plain old jukebox. As previously mentioned, I should be back in the Shoutcast listings in the near future(after I convince myself that the rippers will be crying once they realize they're not getting clean, complete tracks from me).
This regular listener mentioned at the beginning of this posting brought up a good point that I'm going to utilize in the coming weeks. One way for me to draw in more listeners will be to start showcasing more top 40 hits from yesteryear. What I'm planning on doing is having a couple of master playlists; one will have nothing but top 40 entries and the other will have minor charters/bubblers/non-charters. For every 10 tracks heard, 6 will be pulled from the minor charters and 4 will be pulled from top 40, so the theme to my station(rare oldies) will still hold true. Yet you will now have a greater opportunity to hear some of your favorite classics at the same time!
Doing a "no repeat" format is just not feasible for me. I would rather have people hear their favorite tracks a little more often than just once every 2 weeks or so. I'm always getting new curiosity seekers every day, so I need to take them into consideration too.
The changes will be more noticeable as we get closer to spring. In the meantime, feel free to contact me and give me your two cents about any of the points I made above. A big thanks goes out to those of you who believe in what I'm doing and who are helping me keep the station going...this is all for the love of oldies music that certain program directors want to pretend never existed.