One of the lesser known streaming music services announced as an integrated streaming partner with Facebook was Myxer. Until recently Myxer was primarily a leading site for ringtones and other media for mobile phones, and they were doing pretty well traffic wise with that formula, claiming more than 15 million mobile and Web unique visitors per month.
Late last year Myxer added a streaming music service that offers users the ability to create their own stations, invite their friends, share what they are listening to on facebook, and join other’s listening parties. While this may not sound all that different from some other offerings such as turntable.fm, Myxer has a couple of things going for it, not the least of which is that it’s already widely used as a source of ringtones, and has significant traffic going on. Ringtones are primarily sold to users of feature, as opposed to smartphones. It turns out that building brand recognition with this market could be a valuable advantage for Myxer.
In the first seven weeks of its launch, Myxer announced that it had signed up 150,000 new users for Myxer Social Radio. ”We’ve clearly built a strong trust with consumers that lay the groundwork for continued growth as we bring new innovative mobile content solutions to the marketplace. We expect continued success in 2012,” said Myk Willis, Founder and CEO of Myxer.
As smartphone usage continues to grow, the ringtone market, primarily associated with more basic phones, should fade. This move gives Myxer a great way to convert that market to mobile streaming listeners as they become smartphone customers. Myxer’s Social Radio App was featured as a best app of 2011 by Rolling Stone as well.
Shazam is an app that you can use to tag songs and identify them. Hear a song and wonder what it is? Shazam identifies the song for you and offers you the lyrics. It also lets you preview and purchase the song, watch the video, and learn more about the artist. You can share songs with your friends as well. They have more than 175 million people using the service in 200 countries.
Shazam encouraged users to use Shazam to tag the halftime performances of artists and get exclusive content. Sponsored by Bud Light, the promotion offered both a Shazam logo on the screen and announcer promo telling the tv audience that they could use the app to tag artists and ads, enter contests and get special offers. Sponsor tie-ins included Toyota, offering a win a car sweepstakes, Cars.com which let viewers use the Shazam app to donate a buck to charity, and Pepsi which offered a free music video to viewers who used the app.
Shazam reported that football fans tagged content millions of times during the halftime show and ads. No word on how many folks downloaded the app during the show to use it, but I’m guessing there was a lot of traffic for that as well.
Simply by making music more interactive, Shazam was able to put itself at the center of one of the biggest tv events of the year. Here’s the Bud Light tv commercial featuring Shazam..
The streaming audio marketplace isn’t just about music – Audiobooks is a new service competing for listeners’ ears. This new service competes with Amazon owned Audible.com and offers a cloud based service that lets listeners stream, listen and sync between devices as they move around. One article I read called it “Netflix for audiobooks” and another “Spotify for books”.
The service offers a $24.95 subscription, after an initial free offer, that enables you to stream as many books as you want. It’s a price point that is more expensive than Audible, which offers a tiered rate plan starting at $14.95 for the equivalent of one book a month. Audiobooks has about 10,000 titles in their library.
Some may find the subscription price point a little high, but when compared to the price of books or audiobooks, it’s actually not a high price for consumers looking for more than one book a month. Trade paperbacks these days are around $14.95/month, and hardcovers often cost more than the Audiobooks monthly fee.
The question is, of course, how many subscriptions will users tolerate on a monthly basis? This is the question that no one really has the answer to in the new streaming audio marketplace.
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.
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.
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.
On the international Internet radio front, French streaming service Deezer has big plans. They’ll launch in 100 countries in the next few weeks, but stay away from the US to avoid high royalties and stiff competition. While some may consider the US market critical to the success of an online streaming service, Chief Executive Axel Dauchez says there’s lots of online music opportunities globally, in lots of countries not serviced by the big shots in the US. Pandora for example is currently only streaming in the US and European based Spotify is only in 8 countries. Even Apple ITunes is only in 30 countries. ”The music industry earns 80 percent of its profit in seven countries so there are many under-monetized countries.” said Dauchez. Deezer’s upcoming launch plans include Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico and Brazil.
Deezer, an on demand streaming service, offers both ad-free and ad supported subscription based tiers. They are privately held and have raised some 15 million euros from investors to date. They claim to have 20 million users signed up for its free streaming service in France. That should grow with their newly announced integration with facebook and this expansion.
Deezer has been successful in developing telecom relationships, in particular with France’s biggest mobile operator, France Telecom‘s Orange, in which Deezer’s ad-free premium service, which usually costs about 10 euros a month, was bundled into some smartphone and broadband offers. This has helped them grow their audience quickly. France Telecom now holds 11% of Deezer. Deezer reportedly has about 50 million Euros in revenue and will break even this year – if so, that’s an accomplishment that none of the US competitors can claim.
Triton Digital has introduced a new product that radio broadcasters can use to interact with their listeners. Check in Radio is an app that listeners can download to their smartphones and use to “check-in” with their favorite radio stations. It’s basically Foursquare for radio, agreed Patrick Reynolds of Triton when we spoke about it yesterday. I think it sounds like a pretty useful tool for stations.
Check In Radio is easy to use for both radio stations and listeners. After registering their station, broadcasters simply announce their contest on the air as usual, but ask listeners to “check in” via the simple smartphone interface within a specified time period to be automatically entered into the contest. The app has an intuitive user interface and GPS-based location awareness that automatically pulls up stations in the listeners’ current area. Stations can access the intuitive back-end interface to monitor check ins and select winners.
Check in Radio is a free app for iPhone and Android. Stations can register their station and begin using it right away. Claiming their station enables broadcasters to access a back-end dashboard which features check in monitoring and enables stations to determine contest winners.
This sounds like a cool way for stations to interact online with their FM listeners. It also gives stations an opportunity to expand their relationship with those listeners. In the meantime, Triton is expanding their database on those listeners as well..
There is a growing number of artists who are taking their music promotion directly to their fans by offering streaming access to it online. Why not – it’s a great way to give people a sample – and if they like what they hear they might buy a song, share it online, or buy a ticket to a live performance.
Singer songwriter Ryan Adams‘ latest album Ashes and Fire went on sale this week. For the past few weeks, listeners could sample songs or listen to the entire album online at NPR Music, SoundCloud, or at the Ashes and Fire website.
Some might think he’s crazy, offering his entire album upfront for all to hear. How on earth will he sell albums? In fact, I think Adams and a growing number of artists understand that the formula for selling songs has changed, and restricting access to your songs isn’t the way to get folks to buy your music. Instead, offer a listen to everyone. In fact, offer them the chance to hear your whole album! If they like it, do you think they’ll be satisfied with returning to the website every time they want to hear it? Of course not – they’ll buy it, or the songs they like from it. And maybe they’ll come see a show as well.
BRS Media has launched a new platform to support its top level domain registry for .FM. The new site, Get.fm, will showcase how .FM domains are fast becoming the premier channel to deliver news, information, music, entertainment, and social media to the masses on the Internet.
Indeed, some of the Web’s most innovative online addresses are now broadcast through .FM domains. Turntable.fm and Last.fm are among a long list of well known music sites that use .FM as their domain registry. ”The .FM TLD has some of the most recognizable and innovative brands in streaming and social media today,” said George Bundy, Chairman & CEO of BRS Media Inc. “.FM is increasingly attracting premier broadcasters and media companies including Last.fm, Turntable.fm, Blip.fm, Ping.fm, Digster.fm, Shuffler.fm, Headliner.fm and thousands more; as a result, the Registry’s brand and services are now also evolving to meet the growing demand and creativity of our clientele head on.”
George Bundy is one smart guy. Early on he saw an opportunity and bought the rights to sell the .FM top level domain. Since then he has built BRS Media into a highly successful business that ranked as one of the 5000 fastest growing private companies in the country for the 4th year in a row. In addition, BRS Media ranked in the Top 75 Media Companies, that featured prominent companies like: Pandora, FriendFinder and Demand Media.
Next year BRS Media will introduce, manage and market a new top level domain – .RADIO, having been selected by ICANN as the exclusive representative of that extension.