Take The Best Of Radio, Leave The Flaws Behind

image from www.slacker.com Recently, I spoke with Jonathan Sasse, who is SVP Marketing at Slacker Radio. In this interview, Sasse talks about the challenges of combing the best of radio with an online service, how they've worked to enable artists to connect with fans through their platform, and their efforts to provide fans with a compelling experience. Soon, Slacker will offer on-demand music streaming.

How do you take the best of radio and leave the convolution behind?

Jonathan Sasse: Since the beginning, we have sought out the best-broadcast radio talent to join us here at Slacker and also incorporate tried and true elements such as a traditional radio clocks that present listeners with an engaging mix of known hits combined with music discovery.

We are now offering optional on-the-hour news updates from ABC News that listeners can insert into any (or all) stations. Where broadcast radio really falls down is with very small libraries, off-topic talk and no personalization (to name a few). We address these issues with deep station content, very focused on-air talk (that can be turned off) and even with our free service at most we replace the equivalent of only a single song with ads in an hour.

Why is having multiple entry points important?

Jonathan Sasse: Not everyone has the same needs or interest in music. We strive to offer a level of service that will suit almost any listener – from a very compelling (and free) “lean back” personalized radio service that can be customized to each listener, to “Radio Plus” which gives listeners more control and eliminates ads and soon true on-demand music access with our upcoming Slacker Premium.

In either case we look to take the same approach, which is to put the discovery and ease-of-use of radio to work as the front-end experience, but depending on how much control our listeners may be looking for, we will offer a solution that can work for anyone.

How can artists can connect with their fans through Slacker?

Jonathan Sasse: Right now our Slacker Artist showcase series presents radio stations that are hand programmed by bands. The stations feature music from the bands along with songs that they like or that influenced them. For instance, most recently the group Far East Movement came to our studios and picked songs that influenced them and recorded interviews and intros to the songs. This is part of an ongoing series where artists can host and create a unique experience for their fans that they can’t get anywhere else. We will continue to work with fans and artist to enhance these types of experiences, right now they are unlike anything else offered in this space.

What features on Slacker make it easy for passive fans to be active?

Jonathan Sasse: In addition to our Artist Showcase stations, we provide full artist bios, lyrics, and album reviews for each track we play. For those who want to take it a step further, we partnered with Hot Topic to provide links to artist merchandise that come up as each songs play – hear a Wilco song and want to buy a t-shirt or even the full LP on vinyl? At Slacker you can do this with a few clicks. We have also engaged with leading music festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, helping to provide an unmatched passive discovery experience. There are many opportunities to continue to engage music fans as they listen and to help listeners become more informed and involved without having to work at it.

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