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.
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…
Triton Digital is getting ready to launch an online ad exchange for audio ads that will be the first platform to enable automated buying and selling of online audio impressions. a2x is the first audio advertising exchange that enables advertisers to buy targeted online and mobile audio inventory in real-time. The solution provides a system for managing, buying and selling third party advertising campaigns. In addition, a2x facilitates the execution of digital advertising trades between third parties, providing an information database featuring lists of advertising bid and offer values.
To offer targetability, the a2x solution integrates consumer data from partner eXelate which provides data and insight on online purchase intent, household demographics and behavioral propensities that enable digital advertisers to make optimal marketing decisions.
Following this announcement came one from media buying division of worldwide ad agency behemoth WPP, which includes GroupM, that they would be partnering with Triton’s a2x platform to offer a real time audio ad buying technology to ad partners. According to coverage of this announcement in AdWeek, Triton Digital has access to digital audio inventory from publishers like Pandora, Cox Communications, NPR, and Slacker Radio, though not all publishers are yet on board for RTB (real time buying) advertising.”
While banner ad exchanges have been around for a long time, both the launch of an automated real time buying solution for streaming audio ads, and the partnering with a major worldwide ad agency buying group are major announcements that hold the promise of having a significant impact on the online audio marketplace. It will streamline cross platform integration of streaming audio ads which in turn will stimulate spending.
Fred Wilson, a partner in the investment firm Union Square Ventures, is a music lover and his company is invested in several companies in the streaming audio space including SoundCloud, Turntable.fm, and Targetspot. Wilson has been thinking and talking about monetization of streaming audio services, and his ideas are worth repeating.
In a recent interview, Wilson talked about advertising as a revenue model for streaming services. He sees the radio advertising market, pegged at $17 billion, moving online as listeners transition more and more to listening on smartphones. As that happens, services like Pandora, Rdio and Songza benefit, but so do artists.
In his blog post this morning, Wilson writes about online ad revenue models, and it’s a very interesting post for anyone in the business. He outlines the complexity of the online ad marketplace, and concludes that scale is a very important factor for success in the advertising revenue model. Dollars are limited, and with more and more services going after them, rates are dropping.
Pandora is certainly the service that is best positioned to test this out – they have the scale and are aggressively pursuing an ad revenue model. Each time they gain a dollar in advertising from the general $17 billion radio revenue pool, artists win too, because they get paid for music played by Pandora, but not for music played by broadcast radio. Right? So that means the artists and their labels should want online services which are pursuing ad revenue models to succeed, doesn’t it? Just sayin…
Coca-Cola’s efforts to target teens in South and Central America include a personalizable streaming platform, Coca-Cola.fm. While it is not available in the US, Coca-Cola.fm apparently targets teens, according to the press release: Coca-Cola.FM is a platform through which teens can also develop their own creations — a radio station in Mexico on which they can talk, be listened to and communicate with the world through their musical preferences.
The station is also available in Brazil, where an innovative new marketing effort has just been released. With the help of ad agency JWT, they’ve turned the cover of popular teen magazine Capricho into an ad for the streaming platform that turns into an iPhone speaker. Watch this…
Michael Robertson is a serial entrepreneur who has spent a lot of time thinking about on-demand streaming business models. An outspoken guy who is a perennial favorite at RAIN Summits, he’s often out in front with new ideas. Ubertalk, his latest online platform, is no exception.
UberTalk combines programming from thousands of radio stations into a fast, standardized, easy to use guide. Shows are crowd ranked so that the most popular shows are displayed at the top. Listeners quickly sort by category to dig deep into a particular content area they like (sports, politics, etc).
“Radio needs to be reinvigorated and making it easy to find shows and play them would be a tremendous boost to radio programming online.” says Robertson. “My goal is to bring the programmed radio business into the internet era and UberTalk is a big step in the right direction.”
Ubertalk lets the listener access shows as they are being played, or record them for time-shifted listening at other times. Robertson says mobile apps are coming soon.
This is a deep guide to talk radio programming, paired with a nifty time shifting tool that enables listeners to listen to that programming when and where they want it. It has the potential to bring talk radio into an on-demand space which could greatly increase its audience. May they thrive..
Internet radio stations that neglect to offer programming for hispanics are missing out, since of the leading demographics in terms of mobile usage, smartphone penetration and web radio listening. One in four Hispanics reported listening to Internet radio in the last 7 days, compared to about 18% for the general population (in a US based study by The Media Audit).
One streaming service that has been catering to that market for a long time is Batanga, which launched in 1999. I spoke with the guys who started it a few times about joining the Net Radio Sales network, but they always assured me that they were doing just fine on their own. In 2005 they merged with a company called Planeta out of Miami Florida. They recently announced upgrades to their platform that enhance interactivity - allowing users to build digital radio stations by adding the songs and artists they love, offering similar sounding songs, and excluding the music that they don’t want to hear. Other new features include lyrics and more songs.
Meanwhile Pandora has been paying close attention to the Hispanic portion of their audience, which accounts for 20% of their overall audience, according to AdWeek. Reporting on a discussion hosted during Advertising week recently, AdWeek quotes Pandora sales vp Priscilla Valls, who said that 80% of Pandora’s Hispanic users are on mobile devices. Pandora plays 7,000 latino artists in its offerings. While Pandora does not ask for race or ethnic background in its listener profile, but does conduct a yearly survey among listeners for supplemental information for advertisers. This info enables them to target Hispanics on behalf of advertisers.
“We have a variety of marketers who advertise to that audience in Spanish, Spanglish and in English,” Priscilla Valls, a vp of ad sales for Pandora…. ”What we are finding is that brands are using their general budgets to also reach a Hispanic audience.”
With 20% of their audience speaking Spanish, Pandora is hip to hispanics…
Radionomy, a French-Belgian service that enables users to set up their own online radio station and share it with others, is opening an office in San Francisco. The service, which has 6,000 user programmed stations, is similar to Live365 in its business model, taking care of the actual broadcasting and promotion of the stations, rights management, scheduling and audience monitoring and reporting.
They also have an advertising option that sells advertising across their network of stations, helping users of the service to monetize their content.
Radionomy has more than 42 million listener hours per month across its group of user generated stations. The new US office will be their fifth – they currently have offices in Germany, Spain, France and Belgium as well.
Radionomy CEO Alex Saboundjian will join a panel discussion on monetization strategies for Internet radio at RAIN Summit Europe on October 5th in Berlin. Also joining the panel will be Caroline Graze, NRJ International (Germany); David Deslandes, Deezer (France); Frank Nolte, RMS.de (Germany); and Zachary Lewis, Liquid Compass (US).
RAIN Summit Europe promises to be an exciting day of discussions focused on Internet radio in Europe. Check out the impressive speaker list here, and make plans now to join us!
Device manufacturers are buying up streaming services, creating an interesting angle in the formula for success in the online audio marketplace. In March HTC bought MOG, now Samsung has picked up mSpot and relaunched it as Music Hub, a music store, locker and streaming service for their Galaxy phone. The service launched in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK, and is not yet available in the US.
The service will be offered in both free and premium versions to owners of the new Galaxy S3. By the looks of it, it will try to get users to replace iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services with a one stop “hub” that offers 19 million songs in its catalog. Users can preview, purchase and download songs, store them in their locker, and play them back from their device or other devices or PCs. They can also stream personalized radio channels, get recommendations, build playlists and listen on-demand if they pay the subscription price of 9.99 euros or pounds.
While there is no word on why the service is not yet available in the US, it’s easy to suspect that there are licensing negotiations going on. and on.
There’s definitely a marketplace out there among device manufacturers for comprehensive streaming services that might be struggling to monetize given their enormous “content acquisition” fees. Mobile device manufacturers know that their customers want to stream content, and they are eager to offer it in a proprietary fashion to enhance the attractiveness of their brand. Dedicated lockers with lots of songs in them create long term relationships with customers, so the cost of acquiring the content and offering the service becomes part of the expense of acquiring and retaining customers. Ads, if they decide to sell them, are gravy rather than bread and butter.
Songza is a streaming music platform that has been getting some buzz lately. Songza is a couple of years old and got its start after Amazon bought Amie Street in 2010 and the founders of that platform created Songza in its wake. In similar ways to Pandora, Songza lets listeners create stations starting with artists. Listeners can pick songs, share playlists, and get music recommendations.
Songza has a new feature that offers a new twist on personalized music called Music Concierge. Songza’s Music Concierge suggests the perfect playlist for your situation or mood. The Concierge will suggest music for Monday morning or Saturday night, using your preferences and combining them with information like mood, time of day, activity. So if you’re going for a run, you can plug into Songza and listen to a station just right for that.
Songza is reportedly also working with “several large players in the terrestrial radio market” to license their technology and “help them create a compelling digital experience.” They are not, at present, running audio ads.
According to the latest ranker release from Triton Digital, Pandora has over a million average active sessions during the Monday through Sunday 6am – midnight broad daypart. Say what you will, that’s an enormous achievement.
In fact January turned out to be a good month for lots of streaming networks – Clear Channel, CBSRadio, Cumulus, EMF, Digitally Imported, Entercom, Cox and ESPNRadio all had strong January showings, according to the Webcast Metrics data that measures subscribing stations. Slacker was the only top ten streaming platform that did not show an increase from December to January.
Salem, EMF and AccuRadio lead the pack in terms of time spent listening. Here’s the ranker: