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Turning to internet radio with HotMix106

Internet radio continues to grow, despite still being somewhat underneath the mainstream radar. In Sacramento there aren’t too many well known internet stations, but one that has survived for several years now is HotMix106.com, founded by Goran Sarjos in December 2005. The station has been solely owned since February 2008 by Cory Marcus, who came from the real estate industry, but has always had a passion for music and radio. Today SacTV.com explores how HotMix106 can help Sacramentans who want to get their message to the world. 

The station, which pays royalties for the music it plays from all over the world, focuses on pop, rock, jazz, blues and soul. While many internet stations search for a revenue model, HotMix106 makes money offering live remote broadcasts and sells time slots to DJs who get to play and say what they want. 

When I started Sacramento’s first 24 hour internet station in 1999 called SacLive, my partner and I really had not mapped out how it would make money. We just believed in the "Field of Dreams" theory that if we built it, an audience would check it out. Although the site was covered by local TV stations and the Sacramento Bee, it was very difficult to get people to listen even when we started doing live shows. The station attracted about 3,000 visitors per week, which seemed ok. We pulled the plug after a year as we became involved in other projects.

A few years ago, a short lived internet radio station called SacRockRadio was launched by Joe-G, a former member of the Sacramento band Cleanse, who were signed to Atlantic Records in the late 90s. His station combined video interviews of bands with audio streams. It seemed to be attracting a growing following, but Joe-G decided to go to film school and concentrate on his indepedent video business, which is now thriving. Part of the problem with internet radio is that it hasn’t grown fast enough to meet the costs of delivering the streams. 

On a national level internet streaming networks Pandora and Spotify have been high profile, as iTunes Radio prepares to launch this fall. Slacker is another streaming service that has millions of followers. The streaming model seems to be where internet radio sits at the moment, but an on-demand model would make sense for the future, since consumer choice continues to be the direction in which internet innovation is moving. Cory says, however, that it would cost her three times more money in royalty payments to offer on-demand music, which has many different rules. So for now, the streaming model is what’s practical for internet radio operators.

Radio is still widely listened to during morning and afternoon drive times, although the industry has lost a lot of listening time outside of those periods as YouTube – an on-demand model – has become the dominant player where young people find new music first and adults enjoy classics from the past. 

HotMix106 is an interesting alternative to radio as well and can be listened through iTunes and LoudCity. The station features various DJs thoughout the week. Regular DJs from Sacramento include Jermaine Morris and Rusty T. Other jocks who create their shows from other cities include B. Noel Barr from Long Beach, Recording Academy member Hugh Hession from Atlanta and Mark Klein from Long Island. All the DJs who buy time on HotMix106 create shows from their homes and send mp3s to the station.

Even though most of the music is global, Cory wants to help elevate the Sacramento music scene. She is working with Eric Chun, who teaches a music industry course at American River College, to develop ideas for promoting local indie artists. "I want to pool all these experts from different areas of the music business," Cory says. "There is no A&R anymore for indie and artists ask ‘how do I get my music out there?’ So I’m going to pool experts."

She has no interest in managing or booking bands but offers low cost "media blitz packages" to indie artists who can mix music and interviews in short features that get played frequently on HotMix106. If your band wants to stream live on the internet from home or a nightclub, you can hire HotMix106.com to bring its gear and do it for you. When the station doesn’t have live DJs it still runs a 24/7 stream of mostly independent music programmed by Cory.

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