Category Archives: global trends

The Download On Podcasts

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There’s buzz and activity around podcasting these days. Podcasting isn’t new, but I think it’s become reinvigorated of late with a few players moving things forward. Organized access to content that makes it easier for listeners and producers to connect and easier for advertisers to purchase and track ads, is the force behind this new momentum.

A key company in the space is Podcast One, owned by Norm Pattiz. Founder of Westwood One, Pattiz has the know-how to build a content network, and he’s now applying that skill, and his relationships with celebs, to build a network of podcasts. Launchpad Digital Media is a sister company that sells ads for the network. According to a recent article in Bloomberg News, Podcast One hosts 200 shows in its network and averages 100 million downloads a month.

There are other players in the space as well — Earwolf is a comedy network that also offers producers the tools they need to connect with advertisers through sister company The Midroll. WNYC in New York offers a substantial suite of downloadable audio including Freakonomics hosted by author Stephen Dubner, Radiolab, and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin. Stitcher’s been around for a few years, organizing access to content and offering a mobile app that has been downloaded 12 million times, and is integrated with several car manufacturers and both IOS and Android phones.

Meanwhile, the elephant in the room when it comes to podcast networks is iTunes, which offers a huge library of downloadable audio but no monetization opportunities for the producers. Which creates a nice opportunity for the other companies who are willing to figure out the measurement and monetization piece.

We’ll be discussing that aspect of podcasting, and a lot more at RAIN Summit NYC on February 5th in New York City on a panel called “The Download on Podcasts.”

The all new RAIN News site has launched, and I’m sure you will want to check it out and then use your social media tools to tell your friends about it. There’s a new url, a new site, and a lot more content there which will be updated throughout the day. 

Winamp’s Shut Down Was Inevitable

winampThe announcement that Winamp would shut down before the end of the year didn’t surprise me given that AOL had already abandoned its online radio platform, but it did make me pause. There have been several times this year that I have stopped and thought that surely this event is one of the signals that online audio has left the “niche” stage of its development and entered the reality of being a full blown mass appeal marketplace. One that a product like Winamp, free downloadable software that began as a tool to enable people to play all those songs they downloaded from Napster, couldn’t survive in.

In fact, I’ve wondered a lot over the years, why AOL kept updating it at all – given that the business model – getting users to pay for an improved upgrade to the player – was so weak. In fact, AOL didn’t just continue to update and distribute Winamp when it purchased Nullsoft in 1999 for $400 million, it also kept Shoutcast running all this time as well. And that was an even stranger conundrum, given that many of the biggest stations on Shoutcast were getting free bandwidth (at least a few years back they were). The deal was, at least back in the early 2000s, that you couldn’t run any ads if you wanted the free bandwidth. I never could figure out why that was. Didn’t that hurt AOL’s own Internet radio platform?

In any event, although Winamp and Shoutcast operated independently at AOL for lots of years, it seems that someone has finally noticed the lack of a business model in that department. Winamp will shut down later this month, although there is word that Microsoft may purchase the intellectual property. The end of an era that also signifies the arrival of a new one – the mature online audio marketplace, where you have to have a business model to compete…

 

What If You Could Make More Time?

Adults in the US spend on average 2 hours and 21 minutes each day on their mobile devices, which is nearly an hour more than they were spending a year ago on them. That’s a number that represents nonvoice activities – so it’s not the time that you and I spend talking on our mobile phones, it’s all the other stuff. Adults now spend almost an hour more per day using their mobile device than they do listening to radio.

The new numbers on Average Time Spent with Major Media by Adults in the US, 2012 from eMarketer are interesting. These numbers are not time spent exclusively with one medium – the adults in the study may well have been, and probably were multi-tasking – spending time with two major media at the same time. While the average time spent with mobile is soaring, the time spent with other media is dropping, but not nearly at the same rate. For example, time spent with radio dropped six minutes from 2011 to 2012 – from 1:32 to 1:26 per day. While that’s nothing to ignore, and it is part of a downward trend, I’m sure you agree with me that it’s not a precipitous drop. The same is true for television, which lost 7 minutes from 2011 to 2012 (but their time spent number is nearly twice that of radio at over 4 hours per day). Print is another story for another day..

emarketer time spent 2012

This data shows that mobile isn’t gaining much of its time spent by adults by stealing it from other media. Instead, mobile is creating new media usage patterns that appear to be expanding the amount of time that adults in the US spend with media. That expansion probably comes from multi-tasking, with folks using their tablets while watching tv, etc., as well as new time spent with media in places where you hadn’t before.

Now this is interesting. Mobile media is expanding the time that adults in the US spend with media. Creating new dayparts, you could say. A little like making more time in a day..

Top Ten For Streaming and Radio Are Different

The latest release of music sales figures by Nielsen and Billboard is surprising – digital song sales, which had been on an upward trajectory, seem to have taken a turn. Sales of albums and tracks, which grew 4% last year were down 4.6% for the same six month period.

At the same time, streaming volume is soaring, up 24% over last year, telling the full story behind the dip in digital song sales. The fact is, consumer attitudes toward ownership of music are changing. Streaming access to songs through services like Spotify are making it more attractive to subscribe to services to have access to the music you want to hear.

One of the remarkable things to note about this report is the wide disparity between the Top Ten Streamed Songs and the Top Ten Most Played Radio Songs. Seven of the songs on Radio’s top ten list are not on the Streaming top ten. So when folks are given the option to stream a song and hear whatever they want, they’re choosing a playlist that is 70% different than the one their favorite radio station is choosing for them.

There’s a lot of talk about research that shows that listening to broadcast is not being replaced by listening online. And that may be true. But it may also be true that there’s a new order driving the popularity of songs and artists, and broadcast radio would do well to recognize that.

nielsen billboard 2013

 

The Key to iTunes’ Success

iTunes now has 500 million users worldwide who spend approximately $40 a year on content, according to analysis produced by Horace Dediu of Asymco. Apple users meanwhile spend about $1 a day per device on content, meaning that each time Apple sells a device they can count on 11% annually from that device/user.

Music download sales from the iTunes store are declining however, while other content – mainly apps, are taking a larger share of user dollars. The main reason for this is that 5 years ago, most folks were just getting their first smartphone, and were actively using a device called an iPod to carry around their music. Remember those days, when you bought music and updated your iPod all the time, plugged it in to your car, listened to it while exercising? Now, you use your smartphone and connect to Pandora instead, right? (Or Spotify, iHeart, or whatever). asymco itunes chart

Yep, no doubt the iPhone had an impact on iPod sales as well as song sales, and very soon iRadio will have further impact. Apple is not afraid to look into the crystal ball, see the future, and cannibalize one product with the next big one. And a few years back they saw the Pandora app take off like wildfire in their very own iTunes app store as every new user downloaded the app onto their phone, and they decided that they had better get into the streaming game. Are you as willing to cannibalize your comfort zone in the face of future trends?

RIP AOL Music

aolmusicAOL Music announced, or at least its laid off employees announced on friday afternoon that it will shut down. Shortly after that, AOL Radio’s twitter account explained that the streaming service operated by Slacker would not be shutting down. The shut down encompasses the main site that offers free music videos, song lyrics,  downloads, and music news and includes sites Noisecreep (hard rock and heavy metal); The Boot (country); The Boombox (hip hop/R&B); as well as Spinner and AOL Music.

AOL Radio and reportedly Shoutcast will survive the cuts. In June of 2011 AOL Radio paired up with Slacker in a deal that moved their channels into Slacker’s portal of offerings. Slacker picked up the traffic and also the costs of streaming those channels.

Shoutcast, which AOL acquired back in the late 90s, is another story entirely. That portal gives bandwidth to more than 50,000 global stations. They have a very large audience and are quite possibly the biggest streaming portal online. (It’s never been clear to me what the business model is for Shoutcast, but that’s another story.)

AOL has certainly been through changes, struggling to retain or regain brand prominence in recent years. In 2011 they bought Huffington Post and have placed more emphasis on becoming a top notch news portal. AOL Music is likely a victim of that transition.

RAIN Summit Europe is Thursday May 23 in Brussels. Register here!

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.

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.

 

UK Subscribers Give Streaming Services High Marks

A newly released report takes a look at the digital music landscape in the UK. The British Recorded Music Industry reports that over the past ten years digital music has become a key part of the record industry in the UK, with revenues from downloads and streaming accounted for more than 50% of record label income last year for the first time.

What’s more, consumers are highly satisfied with streaming music services – 93% of those subscribing to a streaming service are satisfied with it. Access to an extensive music collection, music discovery, and mobile access are some of the key values that streaming services offer that consumers don’t mind paying for. BPI report

This is a dense report that’s a must read for folks in the streaming business. While it’s focused on the UK, the analysis and strategic discussions are comprehensive and applicable to other markets as well. Here’s the link.

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