THAILAND: Music giants warm up to new media channel

Community radio stations help music companies reach specific groups of people

Bangkok Post
Monday, August 10, 2009

By Krissana Parnsoonthorn

The country's two biggest entertainment groups have found community radio an effective media tool to promote their music to new audiences at a time when their budgets are tight.

RS and GMM Grammy are now serious about this media channel as community radio stations are gaining popularity and becoming more influential, especially in remote areas.

Soopachai Nillawan, managing director of Rsiam Co, a subsidiary of RS, said the community radio market was quite big with some provinces having dozens of stations. That means their coverage is vast and some stations can even reach villages in remote areas.

"We are well aware of the importance of community radio stations, which can help promote our folk or Luk Thung music. The response and efficiency are very high compared to the expenses we spend on this media channel," he said.

In the provincial market, local people listen to community radio stations all day and disc jockeys are influential because they know the communities they belong to well. The content is tailored to suit the needs of each area.

Rsiam's strategy to build a strong connection with major community radio stations is to do joint social activities together and take some of its artists to visit them. When an artist launches a new album, Rsiam will send the station a master CD so it can play songs from the album. Rsiam now has about 40-50 Luk Thung artists in its portfolio.

Mr Soopachai said the company had different teams to look after each region including the North, the Northeast, the Central and the South because each has specific preferences and festivals.

"Sometimes, we will provide sponsorship or ads for some community products because they can attract more purchases from local people than general products," he said.

Krit Thomas, the chief operating officer of GMM Grammy, agreed with Mr Soopachai that community radio was increasingly important to help promote its music business. But Grammy combines its support of these stations with other media channels including the internet (digital downloads), TV and delivery to increase its efficiency.

"We use community radio to benefit our events and to promote our artists and new albums. We found that TV has a bigger coverage for mass media, the internet is good for younger audiences and radio reaches specific groups who prefer localised activities," he said.

During the downturn, Grammy is very concerned about spending wisely on all media channels and community radio is cheaper than stations in Bangkok. Grammy provides music for the target groups of each community station. This year, it has 40 new pop-music albums and 20 Luk Thung releases.