Sunday, April 20, 2008

Music biz wary of satellite radio merger

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - There's only one Howard Stern, but music formats offered by satellite radio broadcasters Sirius and XM frequently overlap.

So a long-gestating merger of the two companies -- expected to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission in the next few weeks -- would initially mean duplication of content. But radio industry insiders anticipate that much of that redundancy will be eliminated once the deal is finalized.

Some have speculated that reducing redundant formats could enable record labels to better target their promotion resources toward one station. But in general, most of the label promotion representatives polled by Billboard -- especially those specializing in niche formats -- think fewer stations means fewer promotion opportunities.

"It's great that their combined (channels) will have a larger audience but it's also at the expense of the exposure," Virgin Records VP of promotion Dave Reynolds says. "It takes away 50% of my chance of being exposed correctly."

Brad Paul, senior VP of promotion at Rounder Records -- a label whose bluegrass releases benefit from the 24/7 national exposure they get from Sirius and XM -- doesn't like the idea of one less national outlet. "If the argument were being made that it's a good thing because I could economize my effort, heck, I'm not about economizing my efforts, I'm about having opportunities to get these artists' music exposed to as many listeners as possible.

"Both networks offer different ways to feature and launch a new project," Paul says. "I feel good about having both those options to go to."

Sirius and XM, with a potential combined audience of more than 17 million subscribers, have downplayed consolidation of channels, instead focusing on a la carte plans and packages that will allow subscribers to maintain their subscriptions with one service while choosing from the best of the other. But in any such consolidation, duplication of services is often the first thing to go when companies are looking to cut costs.

Read full article here....

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