The New Media Content Revolution

I am often asked by readers to suggest some ways they might start thinking about entrepreneurial ideas for the new media content revolution ahead.

It’s one thing to learn from the mistakes of consolidators in the music and radio industries and their predecessors in publishing and TV but the best way to see actionable growth ideas for the future is to study sociology along with the emerging technology now.

Here are a few ideas I thought might interest you:

1. Textbooks Out, iPads and Kindles In

Gabe Hobbs’ Hobbs Blobs tells us that Clearwater High School in Florida is planning to eliminate all textbooks by the start of school this fall. That’s 2,100 students at an estimated expense of $600,000. It was all over the front page of the St. Petersburg Times touting the first-in-nation high school to go paperless.

Gabe wisely projects that radio might want to find a place on these new age textbooks because students will have 3G connectivity.

24/7 formats will probably not be the answer but if my former associate George Michael, the WFIL legendary teen personality, were alive, he might say – get into the high school news business. Maybe even the Clearwater High School news business.

For those of you fired from a perfectly good radio job by the stupidity of consolidated managers, they will never do this, but you might.


2. Virgin to Publish In-Flight iPad Magazine

Richard Branson is a crazy man and that’s why we love him. Fly Virgin Atlantic and you’ll love him even more once his new “Maverick” iPad-only inflight magazine becomes available to passengers.

Virgin will save the trees and target their upscale international audience with content on entrepreneurism, technology and travel.

Branson’s daughter, Holly, will head the project that will likely reduce traditional publishing costs and start playing to what is likely to be planeloads of fliers with electronic devices on their laps.

First iPad-only issue comes out in October. Then iPhone and android device editions will follow.

Hearst sold 12,000 downloads of its Popular Mechanics app since it was released in early July. Wired has been ringing up monthly app business since it dumped paper. Esquire; Marie Claire; O, The Oprah Magazine; Food Network Magazine; Cosmopolitan and Harper's Bazaar are next.

This is what we’ve been talking about and for those of you who attended my Media Solutions Lab last January – the future we saw together then is arriving now which prompts the question – why aren’t you in the multimedia business?

And that’s what it really is or is destined to become – not simply print, or video or audio. It’s everything wrapped around social networking. The paid model is here as an addition to free. Ad supported Internet is alive and well but there are not enough ad dollars nor will there be to support a wide range of entrepreneurial ventures.

I’m going to do some special segments on the opportunities ahead in multimedia content creation at our next Media Solutions Lab January 27 (save the date). In the meantime, take a close look at your area(s) of expertise and start conceptualizing a new model built around – the iPad, America’s new entertainment and information device.

3. Paywalls Are Coming

News Corp’s Times and Sunday Times is getting ready to start charging for content. It has erected a paywall that even Google’s web crawlers cannot surmount

Revenue from online advertising is not enough.

Hulu launched a premium TV service for $9.99 a month for full seasons of TV shows and other content. That’s really aggressive and may not work. Who knows what the sweet spot is for monthly subscription pricing.

Even local newspapers like The Tallahassee Democrat, a Gannett paper no less, is charging for the online edition. The Wall Street Journal almost always has charged and The New York Times has a cockamamie metering concept that it will introduce in 2011 although I believe The Times model will fail because it tends to punish heavy readers.

This publication – Inside Music Media will go to a pay model by early fall -- $99 for a year, $14.99 per month.

Radio stations that could offer specialized short-form music programs, experts on music discovery by genre and news and entertainment could also find a lucrative pay model if the content has certain elements.

This is my criteria for success.

To succeed with a paywall the content must be unique, compelling and addictive.

If all three of these criteria are not met, chances for success diminish.

For example, if a radio station offered a website and music-enhanced discovery site around hit music, it would likely fail unless it has content not available elsewhere that consumers would be compelled to read so they could become addicted to the product.

Classical music buffs who are left with nothing on terrestrial radio could get several hours of music a day ported to their electronic device of choice with outstanding, exquisite content and expert context may very well pay. You might also monetize through ads.

Local will be a big area.

Will someone please do this before I do?

Zip code Newsradio.

Type in News-08003 and get all the news for Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Not fluff. No repackaged news from other sources or it will fail. Unique, compelling and addictive. Social networking for that zip, video, pictures, text.

If the content exists somewhere else for free, you’re through.

There are many new opportunities cropping up for new media. It is important to understand one thing more than anything else – the consumer.

Your target consumer will tell you what they want, will use and maybe even pay for.

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