Reach & Phrequency: Will Music Sooth The Savage Newspaper Marketplace?

phillyLOVESmusicHoping to capitalize on their familiarity with the local cultural scene, the Philadelphia Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer are launching a site devoted to local music--, which will offer music downloads and video along with reviews, event listings, and user comments. According to Philadelphia Media Holdings, which owns both papers, the Web site will exist independently of, the papers' main Web portal.

The company said the site aims "to bring the virtual and physical worlds of music together by allowing users to learn about artists, watch and hear the latest local music to make their own opinions and then find out when shows are scheduled so they can attend."

The site includes a Phrequency player that allows users to listen to streaming music, buy songs, and share songs with their friends. Users arriving at the Web page find the player pre-loaded with a suggested playlist of various local artists.



The site targets adults ages 18-49, but appears to skew somewhat lower in this age range: three special sub-sites are devoted to jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music. Overall, it covers eight genres of music, and claims to have already collected content from 3,000 area bands, which can also create and update profiles to stay in touch with their fans.

Newspapers across the country are returning to their local roots, as publishers realize that their dominance in reporting local news (and culture) is critical to their survival in the face of competition from the Internet. That's because national and international news is increasingly viewed as a commodity, with substantially similar stories available from multiple sources on the Web. By contrast, newspapers may be the only source of reporting at the local level, giving them a monopoly on high-engagement local news.

By the same token, the rate of growth in local online advertising appears to be slowing, which spells bad news for newspaper Web sites. According to Borrell Associates, local online revenues--which grew 49% in 2008 to $12.9 billion--will grow just 8% in 2009, to $13.9 billion.

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