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The Wall Street Journal has a story this morning about how one of the interesting byproducts of the plethora of ways to access music is that traditional radio broadcasters are actually cutting back on the variety of music they play.

"Faced with growing competition from digital alternatives, traditional broadcasters have managed to expand their listenership with an unlikely tactic: offering less variety than ever," the Journal writes. "The strategy is based on a growing amount of research that shows in increasingly granular detail what radio programmers have long believed—listeners tend to stay tuned when they hear a familiar song, and tune out when they hear music they don't recognize.

"The data, coupled with the ballooning number of music sources competing for listeners' attention, are making radio stations more reluctant than ever to pull well-known hits from their rotations, extending the time artists must wait to introduce new songs."
KC's View:
I'm not a radio programmer, so I could be wrong about this. But…

This may be a short term method of getting people to stop on one radio station, but it doesn't strike me as a logical strategy for growth. If I want to listen to one song over and over, I can simply program my iPod that way … but radio actually allows me to hear new songs, new artists, even new forms of music.

I recognize that I'm not the target audience here. But one of my favorite satellite radio stations is The Pulse, because I end up hearing songs I've never heard before, which I often end up downloading to mu iPod.

In some ways, what the radio stations is doing strikes me as similar to the misguided strategy advocated by the Post Office, where they wanted to compensate for declining usage by eliminating one day of service. When the USPS went in another direction - delivering on Sunday - it struck me as much smarter. You get new customers by offering more and differentiated content, not less of the same content.

It is, I think, an interesting metaphor for what retailers need to think about.