Should you choose a musical niche or challenge the competition?

This is a recurring question that comes to the mind of any broadcaster when creating a web radio: should you choose a little-used musical niche and try to exploit it, or should you try to make a place for yourself among the competition on a more accessible, more mainstream niche?

The question deserves to be asked. Because there are many musical niches and some of them are still not or hardly exploited. But if they are little exploited, it is also because the demand is very weak. An example? There are very few web radios on Grunge music, the underground rock of the 90s. This musical genre has a wonderful leader with the band Nirvana. So why not try to exploit the potential? The idea may seem attractive at first. Here is at least a radio that will be different from the others, and will broadcast music that very few other radios broadcast. Only one question remains: how many listeners will it really attract? How many pairs of ears are ready to listen, continuously, to grunge music? If those who like a little bit of this music (and in particular the band led by the late Kurt Cobain) are numerous, are they ready to listen to it for a long time? How many are real fans of this music?

The answer is clear: there are too few of them. If the niche is not used much, it is probably not by chance! In other words, even if your radio station is original and unique, the potential for developing its audience will be too quickly “captured” by the small number of fans of the music it broadcasts.

The second solution remains: to launch oneself in a niche that is already well exploited but whose audience potential is very large. Try to get a good piece of a big cake. Be careful, this does not mean that you have to imitate FM and its very federative formats. No, you can choose a very specific niche and exploit it in your way. An example again? The 80’s! Everyone loves the 80’s, even those born after! What are the reasons for this? 

Because this decade symbolizes carefreeness and freedom. Because the hits of this decade are very easily identifiable and sometimes unforgettable. The theme of the ’80s is therefore a very catchy niche for a web radio that hopes to reach a large audience. Obviously, web radios are already very numerous to be positioned in this niche? But what do they really offer? What are the musical choices? How many titles in a playlist? Only hits? Unknown titles? Forgotten nuggets? Gold records? There are dozens of ways to program a radio dedicated to the music of the 80s. By listening to what the competition is doing, by differentiating yourself, by finding a name, an original communication, it is always possible to stand out from the crowd and to make listeners, often very volatile, want to stick to your mp3 stream.

As you can see, between an unexploited but very small musical niche and a very large and already exploited niche, the choice is quickly made. The success of web radio is not only its concept, it is also its on-air style, the personality of its host(s), the programming choices, a sharp and precise side, in short, it is a lot of things, talent, and work. But this is what makes digital radio an increasingly mature, professional, and attractive sector.