Monthly Archives: December, 2011

Katz Drops Pandora

Katz360 has dropped Pandora from its list of clients, according to a story in Inside Radio this morning. Katz360 is owned by Katz Media Group which is owned by Clear Channel. (Inside Radio is also owned by Clear Channel.)

This is the latest development in a series of events leading to an increasing divide between streaming broadcasters and online stations over whether the two types of listening platforms should be assimilated in terms of measurement – and now in terms of sales strategies and representation. There’s been a big argument brewing over when and how Arbitron will measure Internet radio – with many of their broadcast clients applying heavy pressure to limit the exposure that online only stations such as Pandora have in Arbitron – arguing instead that online only stations should not appear alongside streaming broadcast stations in rankers.

This of course would make it difficult for advertisers and agencies to accurately assess the Internet radio options in one place. Which is apparently the goal of broadcasters. Instead, they want Arbitron ratings that enable them to add their on-air and online audiences so they can represent and price them as one. And they want those ratings to exclude Pandora and other online only stations.

I have to say that I saw this coming. Readers here may be aware that Katz360 is the former Net Radio Sales, a company that I founded in 2003. We sold it to Katz in 2007 and I ran it for another year there before leaving in 2008. It was always our goal to represent both online stations and broadcaster streams together as one large Internet radio network. There is no indication that Katz will discontinue its relations with other online stations. Yet.

Katz, and in particular its spokesperson Mary Beth Garber, have been outspoken in denouncing Pandora’s attempts to position itself as radio and pursue local and national radio revenues. In fact, they’ve been so outspoken that I have been wondering how Katz360 could represent Pandora. (see my comment below my post, here.)

This is hardly a massive blow to Pandora – Katz was representing only their local market revenue and I am sure that both Triton and Targetspot will be eager to add them as clients. It is a blow to Internet radio as I see it – Clear Channel and Katz have declared war and refused to work together with Pandora to develop the Internet radio marketplace…What do YOU think?

 

Triton Announces Local Market Measurement Product for Internet Radio

All of the data available in Triton’s Media Rating Council (MRC) accredited national monthly rankers will now be available on a local market level, per an announcement yesterday by Triton Digital. Triton’s Webcast Metrics audience data will now be made available to subscribers on a local market by market basis. The updated solution will enable publishers to highlight their audience metrics within individual markets and combinations of markets as well as segment the audience across demographic attributes within geographies.

Unlike the top 20 ranker that Triton releases monthly, local data garnered through Webcast Metrics will not be released publicly. It will be the exclusive property of the subscribing publisher.

“We believe there is a substantial monetization opportunity for publishers within the local digital and mobile marketplace,” said Mike Agovino, COO of Triton Digital. “Local mobile advertising alone is expected to grow by more than $2 billion over the next several years, and this evolution of Webcast Metrics will further assist our customers in fully capitalizing on this market opportunity.”

This development has been in the making for a while – I know that Triton has been examining their local market reporting for a while with something like this in mind. And Pandora, the most listened to Internet radio station on Triton’s rankers, has been stepping up the demand for market by market ratings. In fact, a few months ago Pandora partnered with research firm Edison Research and began releasing hybrid local market ratings using Triton’s Webcast Metrics data and standard AQH formulas and comparing them to ratings and shares in Arbitron‘s local market broadcast reports.

Which caused a furor among broadcasters and their spokespeople who believe that broadcast radio should only be measured in a vacuum and never compared to other audio content sources like Internet radio or satellite radio. Of course, that’s silly — any ad supported audio content will ultimately have to measure up to any other to demonstrate performance and garner ad investments.

The fact that Triton will release local market audience data to subscribers is a great thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s been available to them for a while, but the formal announcement and new product called Webcast Metrics Local ups the ante. Competition is good. It spurs development, keeps everyone on their toes, and is a sign of a thriving industry. Play on…

A Little Christmas Cheer

Christmas in the post-War United States

There are more than 425 stations streaming Christmas music this year, according to BRS Media, owner of web-radio.fm. That number includes AM/FM stations that are also streaming their Christmas programming online as well as online only stations. This year a record percentage of terrestrial AM/FM radio station are streaming online. Nearly 90% of terrestrial stations, playing Christmas music 24/7 over the air, are streaming online. That’s up from 75% in 2010; 60% in 2008 and up from only 35% in 2005. The total number of Christmas stations streaming has more then doubled in the past five years.

BRS Media, widely known for its top level domains .FM and .AM, has been tracking streamed Christmas offerings through it’s web-radio portal for 16 years as part of its more than 20,000 stations’ offerings. BRS Media launched the radio directory with two stations in the fall of 1995. Today, Web-Radio features nearly Twenty Thousand (20,000) radio station web sites, with over Fourteen Thousand (14,000) stations webcasting On-Line. Visitors to Web-Radio can search for their favorite station by call letters, format, state, country and Internet-only.

You can check out the extensive list of merry offerings here.

Last.fm’s New Site Is a Game Changer

Not to be outdone by recent enhancements by Spotify and Pandora, Last.fm has rolled out a new interface for Last.fm Discover that is easily the best looking offering I’ve seen by a streaming station. It’s based on HTML5 and was developed in tandem with Microsoft to showcase the new capabilities that HTML5 in Internet Explorer 9 can offer.

Last.fm Discover is a customizable, personalizable offering that focuses on new music and artists. Launched a few months ago, the offerings are influenced by Last.fm’s charts of what listeners are scrobbling and listening to on Last.fm.

The site is very playful and inviting – perfectly suited to the Discover theme – rolling green textured hills invite you to explore the various music genres. It’s a fun and inventive look that feels more like a game – listeners can’t help but poke around, relax, hang out and discover new music. Once you select a genre, it shows you some artists and endless options for listening to similar artists, or taking a new direction. It’s addictive – I found it hard to stop clicking. (The screenshot reveals my affection for K pop..)

While much of the new site can be seen in any browser, the experience is enhanced in Internet Explorer 9. In fact, I’m a Chrome user and this got me to open IE for the first time in a while. “What we want is to see more and more websites using as much of HTML5 as possible and one of the reasons for that is we want websites to be more like apps in the way they feel,” explained Ian Moulster Microsoft product manager.

I really like this new development – I think they’ve done a great job of breaking the mold when it comes to streaming station interfaces, developing a look that matches the station’s theme of discovery. So we’ll see if it gets Last.fm a little more traction in terms of listening. Last.fm has been surprisingly stagnant in terms of audience growth and general awareness here in the US compared to Pandora and Spotify.

Streaming Station That’s Out of This World

Moon and Saturn / Maan en Saturnus

Image by Arjan Almekinders via Flickr

NASA has launched a new space station and this time it’s an Internet radio station called Third Rock. They’re calling it “America’s Space Station” and it’s a custom-produced Internet music radio station that is crafted specifically to speak the language of tech-savvy young adults.

“NASA constantly is looking for new and innovative ways to engage the public and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said David Weaver, Office of Communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We have led the way in innovative uses of new media and this is another example of how the agency is taking advantage of these important communication tools.” The station will be operated at no cost to the government by the Space Act Agreement. Houston based RFC Media is collaborating on the execution.

The station’s format is alternative/indie/new rock. Space related career info and job listings will also be featured. I’m hoping that – in addition to the new stuff, there’s room for a few space tunes. I tuned in and was hoping for some older space themed classics like Dark Side of the Moon, Walking on the Moon, Space Truckin, and maybe even Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon. No such luck, the station’s definitely much hipper than that…give it a listen for yourself, here.

Pandora’s Free Concert Series

Last fall when Tim Westergren keynoted the RAIN Summit in Chicago he spent time talking about how Pandora can use the information they gather from listener’s preferences to connect artists with their audiences. Based on a listener’s location, and the songs they give thumbs up or down to, Pandora can guess what other artists they might like.

Tomorrow night, Pandora will host the first in a new series of free live concerts based on just that kind of information. The concert will feature Dawes, an emerging rock band from Southern California. Pandora data shows that Portland-area listeners are 25 percent more likely to enjoy a Dawes song and 30 percent more likely to create a Dawes station on Pandora than listeners in any other U.S. city. Invitations based on a listener’s musical preferences were sent to listeners in the Portland area by email.

Pandora Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren said, “Connecting artists and their fans is part of our mission at Pandora and we bring some very unique capabilities to that task. Our data shows that Dawes has a sizeable potential audience in Portland and we’re excited to help bring them together.”

Westergren is a musician himself and someone who really cares about artist relations and music discovery. He often talks about the value that Pandora can offer to artists by helping them find their fans.

Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes said, “As we have traveled the country, we often hear from our listeners that they discovered us on Pandora. We are excited that, now, through this new concert series, we’ll get to connect in person.”

Sure wish I could be in Portland tomorrow night to see the power of personalized radio firsthand..

Play, Skip And Pause NPR Streams

When it comes to offering excellent diverse digital audio programming, NPR has been doing it really well for a long time. Years ago they started offering many of their weekly or daily news/talk programs as podcasts which dominated the podcast charts at ITunes. As iPhones made connected access more mobile, they began to offer the programming on demand as well. I’ve been listening to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me during my morning runs for years, first as a podcast and then as a stream on my iPhone.

But one of the things that NPR has done brilliantly is use their digital platform to extend their offerings beyond their typical broadcast offering. NPR Music is a wealth of excellent music, from Song of the Day to First Listen where they preview new albums, to All Songs Considered, they have created an online music platform that is diverse, deep and interesting. 

Now, NPR has created the Infinite Player to allow listeners to listen to segments of NPR’s news and talk programming in a personalizable player that will learn what a person likes and doesn’t and tailor offerings accordingly. Similar to the mechanics of Pandora‘s personalizable player, NPR’s Infinite Player offers thumbs up and down buttons, as well as options to skip and pause.

NPR hopes the Infinite Player will “deliver the type of serendipitous experience you expect from NPR, with recommendations based on your input, NPR editors’ judgment and story popularity.” It’s currently in beta, and only available in Chrome and Safari. It’s designed, according to the blog post that introduced it, to enable more distracted listening – the kind of listening that folks do while they are doing other things as well. The kind of listening that is increasing as we listen more and more to Internet radio away from our desktops..

Send Your Friends An ECard with Streaming Christmas Music From Live365

Here’s a fun and innovative idea – Live365 has launched a tool that lets anyone create a personalized Christmas e-card and send it to whomever they want, complete with Christmas music. The Live365 holiday radio card builder is available online at live365.com/cards. Senders can send to their entire list of family and friends using email or share their custom greeting on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

I checked it out this afternoon and thought it was great – I selected the type of Christmas music from choices like traditional, country, jazz and classical, uploaded a photo and sent it to myself.

What a great way to virally spread the news about Live365. Folks that receive the card can listen to the Christmas music, send a card of their own, or check out Live365. “Live365 offers an amazing selection of holiday radio stations featuring curated playlists assembled by our broadcasters,” said Heidi Elgaard, Director of Marketing. “We’re excited to offer a custom holiday e-card that allows people to easily share a personalized musical experience with their friends and families.”

I’m sending them to lots of people on my list…

Cumulus Stations Join iHeartRadio

The week has begun with news of a streaming partnership between Clear Channel and Cumulus – the latter’s online stations will be accessed through Clear Channel’s expanding iHeartRadio online platform.  The 570 Cumulus radio stations in 120 markets will be available on the New iHeartRadio platform wherever it is offered, including the Web, mobile devices and automobile.

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise in terms of what Clear Channel has in mind for its iHeartRadio platform, since they have recently added Univision‘s and Educational Media Foundation’s groups of stations as well. iHeartRadio is looking more and more like an Internet radio portal, offering access to Clear Channel’s broadcast streams and online offerings as well as streams of other broadcast stations.

And they are well poised to convince other broadcasters to get on board. They have a solid partnership in place with facebook to drive traffic and enable easy sharing, popular mobile apps and dashboard deals with Ford and Toyota to get their app built into 2012 cars. This must be appealing to other broadcasters with fewer resources to dedicate to extending their own online brand. Cumulus, with its new stable of Citadel stations is a good catch for Clear Channel. Cumulus has been a company that has always taken a skeptical approach to streaming, this offers them a fail-safe way to give listeners streaming access, share in potential revenues, but avoid risky expenses.

Cumulus will continue to stream its stations on its own station websites and mobile apps, the New iHeartRadio platform will serve as the sole digital aggregator for Cumulus stations, which will all advertise iHeartRadio on-air and feature a link to iHeartRadio on all their websites. Meanwhile Cumulus expands its proprietary daily deals brand SweetJack, which it launched last spring, to all Clear Channel stations. SweetJack’s national radio daily deals platform will get advertising on almost 1,400 radio stations and station websites across the country.

This is a smart move for both companies. Cumulus has been uncommitted in its approach to streaming, this partnership gives them an easy way to offer streaming access to listeners without dedicating resources for developing their own brand. And they get branding enhancements for their daily deals platform. IHeartRadio meanwhile gets a big list of stations to include in their streaming platform, increasing their offerings and furthering the concept that they are a universal resource for Internet radio. That’s something that will help them build relationships with car brands, etc..

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Spotify Just Grabbed Control of the Streaming Music Game

Spotify held a press conference yesterday where they announced some big innovations to their streaming music platform. Now the Spotify Platform gives third party developers the opportunity to build innovative, engaging music-based apps.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek took the stage and – after introducing Spotify with a brief history, told the audience that Spotify is becoming a music platform that is a lot more than a streaming service. Now third party developers can create “beautiful, responsive apps” that make Spotify their own. He introduced 16 partners that illustrate the concept. He introduced Jann Wenner, Founding Editor and Publisher of Rolling Stone, as one of the first app partners. Wenner spoke enthusiastically about Spotify – “Everytime you open your desktop you have the history of recorded music at your fingertips.” Now you’ll also have the opportunity to read artist reviews and listen to playlists curated by Rolling Stone within the same platform.

The 13 global partners launching on the Spotify App Finder include Billboard, Fuse, The Guardian, Last.fm, Moodagent, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Songkick, Soundrop, TuneWiki and We Are Hunted, with Top10 and ShareMyPlaylists apps coming soon.

Spotify came on the scene in the US just a few months ago in July 2011, and since then they have signed up 10 million users. Their integration with facebook, announced in October, brought them 7 million of those. While there was some negative response initially to the fact that they were requiring a facebook login in order to listen to Spotify, it now looks like that was a wise decision for them that fueled fast listener growth.

These new innovations will bring them still more listeners as partners begin to use their catalog of about 15 million songs as a resource. David Goodman, President of CBS Music Interactive, which owns Last.fm called the new Spotify platform “the next dashboard”, meaning it will become ubiquitous as a streaming song platform. Those are big words, but it’s not hard for me to see how a small webcaster could easily tire of reporting and paying their own royalties and decide to curate lists within Spotify instead. Then Spotify becomes an on-demand service AND an endless number of interesting, programmed and curated channels with this move. (Ek said there is no revenue share model for partners right now, but also said they are in the very early days.)

This is a big idea. They’ve got a lot of momentum built up already from their recent launch and facebook integration, and this will bring them even more. Score one – advantage Spotify…

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