Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Whisperings Explosion....

I haven't posted to my blog in over a month. My life has been really wrapped up in Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio. Let me tell you a bit about it.

Whisperings is an Internet radio broadcast I started back in August of 2003. I created the broadcast more or less out of necessity. It's really hard to find solo piano music anywhere on the radio today, which means that I and other solo piano artists are somewhat limited on how much radio exposure we can get for our music. So, I decided to create my own radio program, one that was exclusively solo piano, and to promote it as such. Basically, I decided to focus the broadcast on that one niche, trusting that if I did it well enough, the program would find an audience. We now feature the solo piano music of over seventy artists from around the world.

From the very beginning, our listening audience grew at a fast pace. After just two years on the air, we were the #3 radio broadcast on, the Internet's largest hosted radio network. Our little solo piano radio broadcast grew to become more popular than all the "rock", "alternative" and "rap" stations on Live365. Six months later we were Live365's #1 broadcast.

It didn't stop there. Just before Christmas, Whisperings was picked up by iTunes. That single event quadrupled our listenership overnight. If you have iTunes, just click on "Radio" then go to the Classical genre. You'll find Whisperings listed there.

So Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio has become hugely successful. As of this moment, about 20,000 people tune in every single day. I'm really amazed by this. Who knew there were so many people out there who just want to listen to pure piano music? It's wonderful.

But there's a down side to our growing popularity - the ever-increasing cost of operation. At the moment, we're paying over $2000/month just to support the bandwidth. That allows us to support 1300 simultaneous listeners. The problem is, we hit that 1300 listener maximum by 6am (PST) every morning, and we stay maxed out until about 1:30 in the afternoon! During those seven hours, new listeners have a really hard time getting in because they can't connect into the station until someone else drops out.

So our success has brought along with it an obstacle. How do we finance this? How do we keep it growing, now that the program costs more to operate than we can afford? Figuring out that issue is what has been occupying my time this last month. We've started asking listeners to donate to help support the show, and we're going to start offering a subscription-based version of the show in the next couple of weeks. For about $5/month, subscribers will get "VIP" access to a version of Whisperings that will never be "full", plus CD quality music and fewer interruptions of the music.

My hope is that over time Whisperings will become totally listener-supported. At the moment, the artists (including myself) are the ones who pay to keep Whisperings going. But we've reached a point where the artists have no more to give. So I'm hoping we can switch things around so that the listeners financially support the program, rather than the artists. That's the way it should be anyway.

If we had no financial limitations, I believe our 20,000 listeners a day would rapidly grow to twice that and beyond. I fully expect we could have 5,000 people at a time tuning in from all over the world (U.S. listeners make up only 60% of our audience) within three to six months. And THAT kind of popularity would likely get us a channel on XM or Sirius Radio, which would be the coolest thing ever. That's my next goal, in fact, aside from asking listeners to support to continue our growth - getting Whisperings on XM. Then we'll have access to millions of listeners, instead of thousands.

I keep going back in forth emotionally between being excited by our growth and overwhelmed by the work to do to figure all this out. But what an exciting challenge to have!

By the way, next month (March 18th) I will be playing a Whisperings concert with David Lanz and Scott D. Davis in Vacaville, CA. If you're in the area, I hope to see you there!

Want to know more about Whisperings? Visit the web site at