Radio Lessons #49 – U2

Who doesn’t like something for free? 500 million people apparently.

In September 2014 you likely received a free album in your iTunes you didn’t ask for. We all did. And the appreciative gesture of your loyal fandom or invasive publicity stunt – or whatever it should be labelled – backfired so poorly that Bono was forced to apologise to the planet.

U2 thought they were being innovative. The music industry’s business model has shifted in the last ten years away from record sales and toward touring where ticket sales and merchandising are making the cash registers sing now. So, a free album is the way forward yes? Maybe, but what was missing was consent. The digital delivery to iTunes was uninvited. And ultimately unwelcomed.

If only the surprise was delivered as an email a week, or a day before; informing fans a free album was inbound. Excitement could have grown, and social networks could have buzzed, opt out boxes could have been ticked for the disinterested few and consent could be implied.

It’s a great reminder to deliver context rather than just content.

A story, a joke, a feature without a relevant setup, without a connection to the day or without a genuine reason for being is simply content. Anyone can do that. But with a few seconds spent on giving the piece context, engages the listener’s desire to hear the piece and makes consumption easier and more exciting.

Remember that listener’s live will go on with or without you, so forge a reason for relevancy every break.

About Ronnie Stanton

Aussie kid was living in Canada now in the USA. His office job is now VP/Programming. Alpha Media in the United States. Ronnie also consults radio stations and coaches morning shows all over the world. He can be reached through

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