|I'LL WHINE HERE SO I DON'T DO IT ON THE AIR!|
I've been thinking about sending you this letter, and yesterday, a listener complained that we spend too much time talking about money - about the station's need for money, about all of us working all this time for a paycheck. Someone said "If you can't stand the heat, go out and get a job." I'm often reminded too of the riches that you can't count in financial terms; family, friends, health, and in the case of MartiniInTheMorning.com - tens of thousands of listeners who tune in every day.
They tune in for The Greatest Songs Ever Written, "Our Music" presented in a fun, contemporary way, unlike a lot of the few stations still playing this kind of music...and for many come here for a sense of community. We come from all across the USA and from countries around the world. We come together for love of singers and songs. Whether it's Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin or Ella Fitzgerald or Bobby Darin ... or one of many "Classic Cool" artists...or Diana Krall, Michael Buble, Steve Tyrell, Rod Stewart or one of the many "Contemporary Cool" artists doing the music we love ... whoever, whatever brings us here, we're all in this together. There are very few radio stations programming "Our Music," and many that play some of it, mix it with the strangest combinations of other artists and genre. So together, those who love the music, the presentation, and the community, work together to get the word out, to grow the audience, and yes, help us reach some kind of financial viability. There I go again talking about money.
The fact is, YOU are probably not the person we should be talking to about money. But the people we need to reach seem to allude us. Don't get me wrong - we know people who know people and have asked them to help open doors to investors, venture capitalists, big advertisers and others. I don't even know the addresses, much less how to open those doors. But we know people who do. They're the ones we should be talking to about money. But sometimes in the course of business, I have a tendency to tell you on the air, just what's on my mind. Sometimes I overshare. I remember when our kids were young, sharing on the air that one of our boys was spending a lot of time in the principal's office. He didn't like the notoriety that followed. I've shared a recording of Karen's snoring on the air, as well as other things you're not supposed to talk about on the radio...when we have a spat, or the fact that she'll be 50 in January. So sometimes I grouse about being broke - I know in the current economy, many of us are struggling and I figure it's relatable.
But there's an old rule in radio that nobody tunes in to hear about YOUR problems ... they tune in to escape from THEIR problems. I know that sometimes out of frustration and sometimes out of a tendency to overshare; I have violated that rule and will try not to in the future.
I will, however, share with you here, my frustration. There are MILLIONS of people who love the music we play, and for the most part, like the way we do it. We have the ability to reach ALL of those people who don't currently have a radio station they like, playing their music. There are those who argue in favor of the "Jukebox" services on the Internet where you can sorta choose your own songs. But if everyone wanted to choose their own, they'd use an iPod or other MP3 device. There is a reason millions of people listen to the radio every day. Actually, there are many reasons. It has nothing to do with technology - it has everything to do with human nature. Radio starts with the music ... but it is so much more. It's about a connection, a link to another human being sharing an interest in, affection for, the same kind of music you like. It's companionship. It's community - knowing you're part of a group of people who have sought out this radio station that plays music that you all enjoy. Adequately funded, MartiniInTheMorning.com could reach everyone who has a desire to listen to this music, presented this way. Everyone. And if we reached them, the few commercials and sponsorship messages we would run, would deliver amazing results for our advertisers - sufficient for us to make money and continue doing this for a long time. The record companies whose artists we play would sell LOTS of CDs (and downloads) ... artists we play would sell LOTS of concert tickets - YOU would get to hear the music you love and lots of it! Everyone benefits.
Someone is going to figure this out and make a lot of money. It doesn't necessarily have to be me. It could be our investors (I'd love that). It could be our advertisers. (I'd love that too.) But most of all, the people who should benefit the most, are YOU. You found us. You tuned in. You invited your friends, family, and even total strangers to tune in. You put up with me whining about our financial struggles.
We initially set out to raise about $5-million, based on our belief that we'll be able to bring between $5-million and $10-million a year to the bottom line within 5 years. We've since learned how to do everything on the cheap - a fact of life in this economy. So the new reality is that we can probably hit the same numbers more quickly, for a lot less money - less than $1-million. To some, this is pocket change. For me, it's an overwhelming task because raising money is not what I do. I was sitting here in our living room this early morning, around 3:30 am, and found an "App" on my iPhone that allowed me to enter the address of a radio station Al the Engineer and I put on line yesterday for a friend. It's not done yet or I'd tell you about it - totally different genre from what we do. But I was listening to that station that I put on the air - if they had the address, someone in London or Kansas or New York could listen to that same station on their computer or SmartPhone, etc. A strange sense of accomplishment came over me. It's the same feeling I get when someone tells me they just discovered MartiniInTheMorning.com and really enjoy it. THAT'S WHAT I DO.
Someone is going to figure this out and make a lot of money. It doesn't have to be me. But what a shame if it doesn't happen. There are millions of people waiting. Toyota announced on Monday that they'll begin putting Internet radio in some of their cars. It's going to happen. It will be as easy to listen to an Internet station as one with a transmitter and tower. And the same rules will apply. If you tell people it's there and they like the listening experience, the station will be successful.
We can be successful - if those of us who know how to do this stuff get to do what we do - and someone who's an expert at bringing in investors and advertisers, does what they do.