With easy availability of internet, arrival of Blackberry and smart phones and limitations faced by traditional radio, online radio has now emerged as a powerful medium in India to keep the youth engaged.
Internet radio is a very popular concept worldwide. With websites such as pandora, live365 and streema, internet radio has come a long way.
Radio City was one of the first mainstream radio players to develop an online portal with exclusive content on planetradiocity. Radio City launched two addition stations along with its mainstream web station that play a mix of Bollywood, international songs along with Sufi and ghazals.
“We were always sure of the fact that we wanted our listeners to experience exclusive radio on the internet. This is why instead of just taking Radio City’s terrestrial content on the internet, we developed content specifically for the audience on planetradiocity,” said Rachna Kanwar, SVP and Head, Digital Media and New Business, Radio City.
Radio City has a separate team of RJs and producers for its online portal and has introduced a number of new attractions such as Tweeter Tu, a capsule which is a take on popular tweets and Boss’s Top 5, which is a tête-à-tête with CEOs on the show Wild Wild West, etc. to keep the audience hooked.
Music specialisation has also been a very important aspect of online radio. Radio Mirchi’s online portals: Meethi Mirch, Purani Jeans, Club Mix and Mirchi Edge cater the music of a particular genre each. Meethi Mirchi plays modern Bollywood melodies, Purani Jeans plays retro hits, Club Mix plays party tracks and Mirchi Edge plays music that is not restricted by the boundaries of Bollywood.
A rather unique form of content was seen with arrival of Big FM on internet in 2010. Big FM launched its Big Net Radio which hosts talk shows on various topics according to the theme of the portal. For instance, Humour Radio has comedy shows, Celebrity Radio Speaks has celeb talks, interviews, latest happening, etc. and Spiritual Radio focuses on religious and spiritual content.
While mainstream players make the best of the internet space, independent web radio portals are also making presence felt in India.
Radio Whiskey is a pure play online radio portal. It focuses on playing unheard exclusive original music sourced from independent artists.
“Quarter by quarter IRF report showed a complete decline in the radio market. Radio listenership was going down every quarter. This gave us the opportunity and concern to look into the aspect as to why is it going down. FM target audience is generally youth. But now the youth has a lot more entertainment options available leaving less time for radio. The youth today is glued to internet and does not have time to listen to radio so we thought why not combine these to,” said Madhukar Pandey, Founder, Radio Whiskey.
Like listener engagement, listener convenience is also becoming an important aspect in the music industry. Websites such as gaana and radiowalla enable users to listen to any kind of music, irrespective of the genre and artist. gaana has an extensive collection of songs and gives the users a lot of options to create playlists, see the top 10 charts, etc. On the other hand radiowalla is a service that offers a variety of special interest, internet radio channels that indulge niche audiences worldwide.
Both the websites have Android apps, making music extremely accessible. These apps are important as many smartphones, including Blackberry do not have the radio feature.
India seems to be waking up to the sound of independent music. Internet gives the users a much wider choice in terms of creating differentiated content. Traditional radio, on the other hand, has a few limitations and cannot experiment much in terms of specialised content. Even in its initial stage web radio seems to have a promising future.