Music with pictures – the next step for radio?

It seems some internet broadcasters have discovered video and are keen to stream their DJs hosting shows live across YouTube, FaceBook and among others.

A friend who’s recently started live streaming his radio show in sound and vision tells me the interaction with viewers makes it worthwhile, as they post comments about the show while he is on the air and share his broadcast with their social media buddies.

Last week more than 1000 people watched him broadcast live from Canada – but the stats do not currently show how long each person watched before clicking away. Maybe they watched for 5 minutes; maybe they enjoyed the entire confection. Who knows?

Blue, blue, electric blue

I suggested to him that watching a person in a studio sitting at their desk might not be the ultimate optical experience when it comes to visual entertainment; and that given he’s cracked the technology to broadcast television he might want to start playing MP4s (music videos) instead of MP3s.

That way, I surmised, people would have something interesting to watch. But then of course we are then into MTV territory and is that radio? No, I don’t think it is. Or are we about to see a renaissance of the video DJ of the 1980s, but this time online instead of at the local pub?

Radio to me is audio only and when it’s on at home or in my car it does not require my conscious attention. I do not have to watch a screen of any kind (we all do too much of that as it is) to enjoy music and chat.

Silenced by social media

However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for my Canadian friend who is really keen to push the video concept as far as he can.

Facebook, which appears fine with allowing people to live stream suicides and murderous shoot-ups has blocked my friend from broadcasting music. YouTube, the home of porn and anything-goes live streaming, has also prevented music being broadcast from his studio.

Broadcast something offensive and the guys at FaceBook cry freedom of speech as a defence. Deny a record company 0.14c in royalties per song and the sky falls in. And yes, of course royalty payments need to be paid; but there has to be a better way than blanket bans for those who want to use social media in this way and who already have licenses to play music.

Right now my friend is in discussion with all concerned, rights holders to social media platforms, to try and navigate a way through so he can be heard and seen doing his soul show.

DJ Rod Lucas

The good news for my friend is that DJ Rod Lucas in London has managed to place his 3-hour smooth jazz shows on YouTube for the world to enjoy without them being silenced or taken down.

Like my Canadian friend, Rod plays some great music, and even though Rod has numerous cameras flicking around his awesome studio to keep us visually entertained, even I tire of watching a man sitting down pressing buttons. So I’ll launch a new browser for Rod’s YouTube transmissions and listen without watching.

Talk radio

However, just as I was finishing this little post I clicked through to watch video of the LBC radio studio in London on YouTube – I wanted to hear a bit more about the Euro elections.

It was basically a TV interview. People were talking, there were phone callers and it kept my attention. I kept watching because I wanted to see the expressions and body language as a politician answered questions – live in the studio. I watched and listened because there was something to look at – it really was radio with pictures.

But watching someone pass the time while music plays…I am afraid it doesn’t do it for me.