Category Archives: clouds

The Twitter Approach To Streaming Songs

While rumors of a streaming music service from Apple and Google have been prevalent lately, few expected the announcement last week that Twitter is developing a mobile music application that will let its users play and share songs. Last year, Twitter acquired the music recommendation website We Are Hunted, a site that charts the 99 most popular songs on a daily basis by tracking what the web has to say. It was a perfect match for Twitter, since it was a music discovery site already built to keep track of what music listeners were talking about and sharing on Twitter and other sources.

SoundCloud

The new app, called Twitter Music, could launch by the end of this month. Various reports say that Twitter Music will suggest artists and songs, based at least in part on what a person follows on Twitter. Songs will be streamed via SoundCloud, which seems to be a perfect streaming partner. It’s easy to imagine the success that an application like this can have, given the popularity that lots of recording artists have on Twitter. Artists can offer their music on SoundCloud and spread the word on Twitter directly to followers.

Probably not coincidentally, SoundCloud has revamped its fee structure, making it easier for artists to open accounts and offer their music easily to fans. An enhanced Pro subscription also offers the ability to run ads, which they call “Moving Sounds.” Based in Berlin, SoundCloud has over 180 million users per month. It’s one very interesting streaming platform that is more focused on delivering quick hits – like songs and soundbites, than longer, radio station like experiences. Which is of course, entirely compatible with the way online consumers like it, on Twitter and Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr…

By the way, SoundCloud execs participate often in RAIN Summits, and we’ll be hosting one in Vegas on April 7th, and Brussels on May 23rd.

Cloud Based Ad Insertion Enhances Targeting for Streaming Broadcasters

abacastAbacast has announced a new cloud based ad insertion technology that offers significant enhancements to streaming broadcasters. Generally, broadcasters deliver their online audio product in a single stream where all listeners are hearing the same thing at the same time. This is different than the technology that more interactive services like Pandora use, where each listener is hearing a personalized stream. The single stream approach, while cost efficient, has offered limited targetability of ads. With Abacast’s patent pending cloud-based ad insertion, each listener can receive individualized in-stream audio ads.

ESPN’s Digital Audio division will use the system to enhance the targetability of audio ads across its platform, “targeting listeners by device, location, age and gender in real time across live national broadcasts.” Abacast’s targeting capabilities make it possible to choose options that, for example, include “all smartphone listeners,” “all listeners in the top 20 DMAs that are on iPhones,”  “all male listeners in the 25-34 age range in a group of zip codes,” “all listeners listening on the TuneIn player,” and more, according to Rob Green, Abacast CEO. Abacast’s cloud-based ad insertion is specifically designed for all broadcaster sizes and is deployed on the Abacast streaming network as well as on Akamai and Amazon.

“This was a huge hole in the radio industry,” ESPN Digital Audio senior manager Blair Cullen told Adweek. “Before, it was one stream to thousands of people, and it didn’t make sense that we were targeting women with a lot of the ads that were running. Now, hundreds of thousands of people are going to get different ad breaks. You could be in the same car as your friend wearing different headsets, and you’ll still be served a different ad than that person,” he said.

This is impressive news from Abacast that has game changing potential for single stream broadcasters with large, geographically or demographically diverse audiences. More targeted ad delivery nets higher cpms, and positions those services to better compete for digital dollars.

 

Streaming Music On Smartphones Is Popular

Smartphone users like to use the devices to listen to music, and that’s a trend that is on the upswing, according to new information from NPD Group. 56% of smartphone users listen to music on their devices, with 39% of them doing that daily. Of those, they mostly listen to Internet radio (65%), but also stream on demand services like Spotify or Rhapsody (30%) and listen to their own music (it’s not clear whether it’s on the device or streamed from a cloud service) as well.

Music listening on mobile devices extends to tablets as well, with 40% of tablet users listening to music on those devices.

Ovi Music - on the go

Ovi Music – on the go (Photo credit: Nokia RSA)

The Audio Consumption study done by NPD Group also observes that hardware of products that enhance wireless local playback of streaming services on mobile devices, like wireless speakers and headphones, are growing as a result of this trend. “With both local music storage and the ability to connect to any number of online music services, tablets and smartphones are actually contributing to a net increase in their owner’s use of internet radio and personal music collections,” said Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis at NPD.  “As a result, we are seeing sales growth in products that compliment playback on mobile devices, particularly those that feature wireless local streaming.” Wireless streaming speaker sales more than tripled in 2012, and wireless headphones grew by 34 percent.

NPD Group’s Russ Crupnick is a featured speaker at the upcoming RAIN Summit West on Sunday April 7th at the Las Vegas Hotel. For more information and to register, click here.

Streaming Music On Smartphones Is Popular

Smartphone users like to use the devices to listen to music, and that’s a trend that is on the upswing, according to new information from NPD Group. 56% of smartphone users listen to music on their devices, with 39% of them doing that daily. Of those, they mostly listen to Internet radio (65%), but also stream on demand services like Spotify or Rhapsody (30%) and listen to their own music (it’s not clear whether it’s on the device or streamed from a cloud service) as well.

 

Music listening on mobile devices extends to tablets as well, with 40% of tablet users listening to music on those devices.

 

Ovi Music - on the go

Ovi Music – on the go (Photo credit: Nokia RSA)

 

The Audio Consumption study done by NPD Group also observes that hardware of products that enhance wireless local playback of streaming services on mobile devices, like wireless speakers and headphones, are growing as a result of this trend. “With both local music storage and the ability to connect to any number of online music services, tablets and smartphones are actually contributing to a net increase in their owner’s use of internet radio and personal music collections,” said Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis at NPD.  “As a result, we are seeing sales growth in products that compliment playback on mobile devices, particularly those that feature wireless local streaming.” Wireless streaming speaker sales more than tripled in 2012, and wireless headphones grew by 34 percent.

 

NPD Group’s Russ Crupnick is a featured speaker at the upcoming RAIN Summit West on Sunday April 7th at the Las Vegas Hotel. For more information and to register, click here.

 

Aha Radio Is Making Car Connectivity Easy For Consumers, Stations

The connected car, once a concept, is now a reality and one that offers significant promise for the audience growth to online stations. One company that’s really driving the integration between your car and connectivity is Aha Radio. By the end of 2013, Aha will be installed into vehicles by more than 10 auto manufacturers which in total represent more than 50 percent of all cars sold in the USA/Canada and up to 30 percent in Europe.

Using a cloud based platform, Aha lets the consumer organize their content on their phone and then integrate it with their car. Aha has content partnerships with more than 30,000 stations, including names like AccuRadio, Slacker, Rdio and Deezer. The also are integrated with innovative audio content from location based weather service Custom Weather to targeted content from Men’s Fitness and TV Guide, to Storynory, a service that offers audio content for children.

“Aha lets consumers access their favorite Web content as audio preset buttons wherever they go,” said Robert Acker, VP of Connectivity for Harman. “By connecting people to the web in way that makes sense at 65 MPH Aha is delivering the next-generation of driver connectivity in a format as familiar as radio. We look forward to the day when drivers of any vehicle can safely access their favorite Web content using Aha.”

Soundcloud Has 180 Million Users

Are you using Soundcloud? Lots of people are – 180 million users per month in fact. Soundcloud likes to think of itself as the Youtube of audio, it’s a platform that enables users to share, listen, and upload tracks. They recently announced an upgrade that offers social enhancements and an improved user experience.

Users upload ten hours of audio every minute to Soundcloud, according to new stats recently revealed by Eric Wahlforss, Founder and CTO of the Berlin based company. Audio content creators connect directly with their audience and offers social tools that enable sharing and discovery. Users do not need to register to listen, but registered listeners can build playlists, share playlists, and more. It’s an easy way for musicians to share music, radio stations and/or personalities to share programming, and of course, families to share recital performances.

Soundcloud is also making specfic efforts to cultivate content partnerships that would expand their audience. Last summer they hired a producer from WNYC, an NPR affiliate, to pursue partnerships with audio providers. There’s not much info on the revenue model at this point.

The Berlin based company has taken some $63 million in investments, and counts Union Square Ventures, Fred Wilson’s firm, and Kleiner Perkins, Mary Meeker‘s firm, as investors.

soundcloud screenshot

Changing the Streaming Audio Ad Sales Game

Recent moves by Katz360 and Triton Digital indicate that the streaming audio marketplace may be heating up, with new players signing up to have those firms sell their inventory.

 

E3 Expo 2012 - Microsoft Press Event - Xbox Music

E3 Expo 2012 – Microsoft Press Event – Xbox Music

 

Triton Digital recently announced a big deal with Microsoft to sell audio ads on their Xbox Music streaming platform. Microsoft intends Xbox Music to be the platform that their customers use to listen to music, calling it a 30 million-song global catalog powered by the one service that integrates your music experiences across your tablet, PC, phone and tv. Triton Digital will sell ads and provide analytics for the service.

 

Now, this is a big deal for Triton, one that could easily change the focus of their entire sales organization, not to mention the streaming audio marketplace, creating a lot more highly targetable inventory.

 

At the same time, Katz360 is changing things up as well. First came the announcement that Brian Benedik was leaving, followed by an announcement that Mort Greenberg would be the new President. Greenberg, who was formerly head of sales at Nokia, apparently brought a deal to sell Nokia ad elements, and at least some of his sales team from Nokia, with him to Katz360. According to his Linkedin profile, the plan is to rebuild and rebrand this digital unit (Katz360) as a leading global local & location interactive ad Network and representation firm.

 

So, a couple of big deals that could have a huge impact on the streaming audio ad marketplace, increasing the inventory, level of targetability, and opportunities for advertisers, not to mention the level of sophistication of the sellers. I’m thinking this is all a very good thing indeed…

 

Apple Sets Its Sights On Radio With New Patent

This week Apple was awarded a patent that appears to be a shot across the bow to streaming broadcasters. The patent enables switching from broadcastor streamed content to media stored on a device. By using information available from RDS data, broadcast listings or published programming schedules, the device would determine in advance what programming might not be of interest to the user and then switch to songs or podcasts stored on the device or streamed from a cloud based library. The system reportedly uses the device owner’s content consumption habits, as well as “like” and”dislike” interactive features to determine preferences.English: Target

Apple Insider presents this description from published patent information:

“For example, a user may not like a particular song broadcast by a radio station, or may not like a particular segment of a talk radio station (e.g., the user does not like the topic or guest of the segment). As another example, a user may not be interested in content originally generated by sources other than the media source (e.g., advertisement content). Because the user has no control over the media broadcast, the user can typically only tune to a different media broadcast, or listen to or consume the broadcast content that is not of interest.”

There are a couple of remarkable things about this, not the least of which is that Apple is certainly a formidable competitor. The fact that they have developed this new technology which focuses extensively on replacing radio content is noteworthy. Implications could be significant for broadcasters and others that offer single stream programming, not to mention ad-insertion companies and advertisers. In fact, there could be, would be significant impact for on-demand services as well, since it would make an individual’s music library more useful and relevant.

And the devil is in the details, which might be comforting if the patent holder were any other than Apple…

HTC Moves Into Streaming Music With MOG

Image representing HTC as depicted in CrunchBaseIt’s all but confirmed that mobile phone company HTC will purchase on-demand streaming service MOG via their Beats Electronics high end headphone brand. Which is a very interesting play for the folks at MOG. That service, while interesting, might have been dismissed not very long ago as one that was getting sidelined by other on-demand services like Spotify and even long timer Rhapsody, which recently reinvigorated itself with the purchase of the legal remainder of Napster.

Following in the footsteps of the mobile phone/streaming service pairing between Muve and Cricket, this deal looks like a good one for MOG, which was founded by David Hyman in 2005 and had raised $33 million. MOG reportedly has about half a million users.

HTC, the fifth largest smartphone maker in the world, took a controlling stake in Beats last year. That company is tied in tightly with Universal Music, the largest of the big record labels, which adds yet another interesting twist to this deal.

So MOG, or whatever it becomes, will become an on-demand music source built into a large number of smartphones. Sure – those folks can still subscribe to Spotify or Rhapsody, but if HTC comes with a free service that offers the same thing why would they?

Abacast Announces New Cloud Based Traffic Platform

Online radio business platform Abacast has rolled out a new, cloud based product for ad traffic management. Clarity Digital Radio System is a cloud based product that enables greater flexibility in terms of custom options for ad-insertion and trafficking of ad campaigns.

“Clarity(tm) is a breakthrough release that provides our customers with the key benefits of cloud computing including reduced costs, easy and fast deployment, and automatic updates,” said Rob Green, Abacast CEO. “The use of a cloud-based platform will enable Abacast to quickly and continuously provide incremental value to our customers by focusing almost entirely on new features and functionality.”

Green goes so far as to say this new system is a game changer, the most advanced system in the industry. It features listener geo-targeting and ties in with national ad sales partners to help stations maximize their revenue opportunity.

“Clarity’s™ unique functionality enables TargetSpot to maximize insertions based on parameters set by each customer, but viewed across the entire network,” said Eyal Goldwerger, Targetspot CEO.  “Our traffic managers are more efficient and as a result Abacast’s customers are making more money.”

Abacast has been innovating in terms of upgrading their offerings to streaming stations over the past several years, working hard to offer not just technical services but meaningful revenue relationships to their partners. Sounds to me as though they are listening and addressing customer’s needs..

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