Last week was a big news week for online music news and RAIN Summit Orlando was front and center. The speaker list and agenda for the event were spectacular, featuring smart people from online music services and digital savvy broadcasters, global agency executives, and forward thinking industry folks. The discussions were dynamic – professionals from Ford and Pioneer Electronics discussed dashboard strategies with guys from Pandora, Slacker and TuneIn; and top Triton exec Mike Agovino didn’t mince words while debating benefits of ad insertion with agency exec Natalie Swed Stone and Saga’s Steve Goldstein.
It was a breath taking day full of meaningful conversation that took place on the stage as well as in the audience, in the halls and during breaks. The absolutely best part of every RAIN Summit is the audience. It’s a group that’s always engaged, leaning forward, listening and asking questions, engaged with what is going on. It’s one of the biggest and brightest audiences at the entire Radio Show.
David Field’s keynote at RAIN Summit Orlando presented an interesting, if perhaps defensive perspective of the online audio marketplace. He did admit that audio consumption is expanding, presumably with the help of steaming services, but went on to imply that Pandora’s numbers are a hoax and question the value of targetability of audio ads. While I don’t really understand the wisdom of taking such a position, I also have no doubt that the people in the room are smart enough to figure that out for themselves as well. This is not a room full of lemmings.
RAIN Summits are places where the industry – and I mean the entire online audio marketplace – can come together and engage in dynamic dialogue, maybe even debate, on best ways to grow the space. We don’t set an agenda or require our speakers to take a certain point of view. Pushing forward means considering all the perspectives, forming opinions and then questioning them again. That’s the true value of an industry conference, and that’s what I think we witnessed in Orlando last week. It was, in my opinion, the best RAIN Summit yet. If you were there, thanks for coming. If you missed it, please join us next time.
Driving is down in the US, according to an AP article that I read in my local paper over the weekend, causing folks that study that kind of behavior to conclude that our love affair with cars here in the US is coming to an end. The average number of miles drivers individually rack up peaked in July 2004 at just over 900 per month. Since then it’s been dropping, off 9% by last year at 820, and down again for the first half of this year.
Apparently, many factors are contributing to this trend, including the high cost of buying a car, the high price of gas, and the increased ability to purchase things online and even socialize online. Job losses due to the recent recession are a factor as well.
Which leaves me thinking about the impact that decreased driving is having on radio. Is the actual decline in driving one of the factors in radio’s declining AQH? The fact is that for the past decade, broadcast radio’s time cume has remained fairly steady at around 92% of the 12+ population, while it’s AQH keeps dropping. Some of this is due to younger generations preferring to listen on other platforms, like streaming.
But I’ve never heard anyone mention that the drop in time spent listening to AM/FM radio is tied to an overall drop in time spent driving in the car. And not only that, but this trend may be more closely tied to younger generations choosing other listening platforms over broadcast radio as well. Twenty years ago, two thirds of 18 year olds had their license. Today fewer than half of teenagers get their license in the first year they are eligible. That’s got to be having an impact on their time spent with radio.
Radio’s dominance over drive time has long been its mainstay. The waning of the time that folks spend in the cars is surely having a significant impact on the amount of time they are spending listening to their favorite drive time media…
How does this trend impact the future of radio and streaming? Don’t miss a great panel discussion on the topic at RAIN Summit Orlando featuring execs from Pandora, Ford, Pioneer Electronics, Slacker and others. You can see the full agenda and register here. Use the code Audio4cast to save a few bucks. See you there!
Pandora hosted a 2Q earnings call last week, giving investors news of increased listening and revenues, and continued disappointing profits. The highlight of the call was the news that mobile ad revenues are up 92% over last year, with Pandora now claiming to be the third largest generator of mobile ad revenues in the US, behind Google and Facebook.
Other big news included the fact that just months after a move to cap listening at 40 hours per month, Pandora is removing that cap. No doubt, this decision has to do with the impact that move had – Pandora’s numbers dipped about 10% this spring after the cap was instituted, and at least one competitor, Slacker, saw simultaneous growth. Meanwhile, it did appear that the cap spurred subscription sales as well – although whether those subscribers will stick now that the cap is lifted remains to be seen. Non-GAAP subscription and other revenue was $33.5 million for the quarter, a 153% year-over-year increase, including $4.7 million in revenue relating to our subscription return reserve which has to be held separately since they collect the fees upfront, but subscribers may cancel for a refund.
Advertising revenue was $128.5 million, a 44% year-over-year increase for the quarter.
Pandora also announced that they will for the first time be running back to back ads in listener’s streams, increasing the potential number of ads a listener can hear from about 4 per hour to 5. Since these are mainly 30 second ads, the ad minutes may climb to 3 minutes per hour.
My take on the listener hour cap and commercial units per hour tweaking is that Pandora is growing up and turning its attention more to profitability. They’re demonstrating a willingness to try different things in their attempt to make money per listener. The fact that they are connected to identified listeners gives them the ability to watch their tweaks closely, and they are obviously not afraid to change course if they don’t like what they see. And since they are a public company, these are experiments that the entire industry can watch and learn from..
Are you coming to RAIN Summit Orlando on Tuesday September 17th? Join attendees and speakers from Pandora, Slacker, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Spotify, Univision, Greater Media and so many more for a great conference with excellent panels and networking. Click here to register, and use the code Audio4cast to save a bit.
- Pandora Shows That A Media Business Can Grow Around Mobile Ads (businessinsider.com)
- Pandora scraps 40-hour mobile limit ahead of iTunes Radio launch (digitaltrends.com)
Traffic to SoundCloud is ramping up quickly. According to a monthly report by comScore Media Metrix, the number of unique visitors to the site grew 26% from Feb 2013 to March 2013 and landed them in the top ten fastest growing sites on the web (for US users). SoundCloud, which enables anyone to share audio in much the same way that users share video on YouTube, saw nearly 10.5 million users in March.
SoundCloud is based in Berlin. They are well funded, and count both Fred Wilson and Mary Meeker, two investors who pay quite a bit of attention to the online audio space, as investors and board members.
Want to hear more about SoundCloud ? VP of Business Development Dave Haynes will be joining us at RAIN Summit Europe coming up in just a couple of weeks, on May 23 in Brussels. He’ll join a panel discussion called Mainstream Mobile, hosted by James Cridland. Come to the conference and join the conversation. Hope to see you there!
Developers at The Echo Nest have put together a fun tool to demonstrate their ability to create music profiles for individuals based on the music they like or say they like. The way it works – you can either type in a few artists, or allow access to your facebook likes and it stereotypes you based on your musical selections.
Without much thought, I typed in a few of my favorites: Joan Armatrading and the B52s (from my college days), Dar Williams, Jack Johnson and Michael Buble. Up pops my musical listening persona, which I was fairly disappointed in: I’m a Sheltering Suburban Mom who likes Cabernet and 50 Shades of Grey, at least according to the game. And I thought I was so cutting edge.
The Echo Nest, on the other hand, is cutting edge. I’ve been to their offices in a trendy renovated warehouse in Davis Square in Somerville (not far at all from the now infamous Watertown). The company was started by a couple of smart MIT guys who originally thought they were building a streaming service like Pandora, and then decided that they would instead go into the backend business of powering personalized music services. Somewhere along the way they hired CEO Jim Lucchese, a smart and likeable guy. Now they are powering the likes of Spotify, iHeartradio, MTV, Vevo, and others.
Personalized music experiences are becoming a standard offering of most of the bigger music services. Go on and play What’s Your Stereotype, it’s easy to understand how your listeners will like it. And I dare you to tweet it, or post it below when you’re done..
Jim Lucchese is one of the smart people who often speaks at RAIN Summits. Our next conference is RAIN Summit Europe in Brussels on May 23.
Forty Five percent of Americans now listen to online radio occasionally, at least once a month, according to the newly updated Infinite Dial Study by Arbitron and Edison Research. That translates to 120 million Americans, and it’s a number that grew 6% over last year. The weekly number – Americans that listened to online radio weekly – grew 4% to 33% and roughly 86 million.
What’s more, those weekly listeners reported spending an average of 12 hours a week listening to radio online. Arbitron defines online radio as listening to AM/FM radio stations online and/or listening to audio content available only on the Internet – a definition that I concur with, since I think that’s how consumers define it.
But here’s the big news of the study: Consumers reported spending more than two hours more listening online than they did a year ago! Weekly listeners spend an average of 12 hours a week listening to online radio, versus close to ten hours last year.
The Infinite Dial Study is the best comprehensive snapshot of the growth of online listening. Arbitron and Edison Research have been updating this yearly study for more than ten years, providing the industry with cold hard data chronicling the growth of listening online. Arbitron VP Bill Rose and Edison Research President Larry Rosin will present their study at the upcoming RAIN Summit West on this Sunday April 7th. Hope to see you there!
With more than 5000 stations and 260 genres of music, Live365 may well be the most diverse streaming audio platform on the planet. Live365 offers a platform where folks who want to start their own radio station can do that for an affordable monthly fee that’s all inclusive – streaming, programming tools, royalty coverage, etc.. Monthly costs range from under $5 bucks a month for a station that you and just a few friends can listen to, to $99 or more for larger reach and even the ability to run commercials.
They’ve recently upped their game by offering a new app called Studio365 that lets their broadcasters to manage their radio stations from their mobile device. Among other things, it features a nifty tool called ShoutOut that enables the capability to go “live” on the microphone whenever and wherever a broadcaster may choose. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the Studio365 mobile app lets users create, preview, and manage Shout Out voice messages, set and update station ID and pre-roll messages, update station profiles including title, image, description, review current and historical station listening stats, as well as monitor their station.
Live365 has been around a long time, since 1999, enabling the long tail of Internet radio, with more than 5000 individual stations, including some nifty curated stations by the likes of Carlos Santana, Pat Metheny and Jethro Tull. They’re one of the true pioneers in the space. CEO Hong Lau will join a panel discussion on International Trends in Online Audio at RAIN Summit West, which is just a couple of weeks away – so if you haven’t registered, I hope you will. More info here…
Digital revenues generated by US radio broadcasters shot up 11% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the previous year, and pushed the full year over year increase to an impressive 8%. Spot dollars increased a mere 1%, further emphasizing the brightness of the digital horizon for radio.
“The continues stellar showing of the Digital sector…underscores the fact that th eRadio industry is finding additional ways to monetize these streams and that advertisers are taking advantage of new platforms to reach our listeners,” said RAB President and CEO Erica Farber. The digital revenues category represents revenues generated by websites, Internet/web streaming and HD Radio including HD2 and HD3 stations.
As the overall contribution that digital revenues makes to radio’s revenue edges closer to 5%, Internet advertising revenues are hitting record highs. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that Q3 of 2012 was up 18% over a year earlier, with Q4 numbers yet to be released. With spot radio dollars stuck in barely positive territory, digital solutions that enable broadcasters to unlock a portion of that pie become an important piece of the radio economy.
RAB president and CEO Erica Farber will deliver a keynote speech at RAIN Summit West on April 7th, offering her perspectives on radio’s digital initiatives and prospects for the future. Other panels will explore online options to capture more revenue as well. For more information and to register, click here. (Early bird registration ends next week.)
I’m heading to Europe this week for the very first RAIN Summit there – in Berlin on Friday October 5th. It is looking like it will be a great event – the room is close to sold out at this point, and the agenda and speaker list are impressive. I expect to learn a lot.
AdSwizz, Triton Digital and Liquid Compass are the presenting sponsors of this event, and they were instrumental in convincing my colleague and partner Kurt Hanson and I to bring RAIN Summits to Europe. We’ve been planning this day for almost a year.
The event will take place at the very trendy nhow Hotel on the River Spree in Berlin, a city that is full of folks who know a lot about new media in general, and Internet radio as well. I’m looking forward to panel discussions that will focus on technology and programming, business and monetization. A panel discussion on the Connected Dashboard will feature execs from BMW and Open Synergy. We’ll hear experts talk about measurement topics, both from the content side, and then from the agency perspective. Our Agency Roundtable features executives from agencies across Europe.
There will be two keynote presentations – Kurt Hanson, Publisher of RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter, and Jonathan Forster, General Manager of Spotify Europe.
No doubt we’ll discover many similarities as well as differences between the US and European streaming marketplace. In fact, that’s the point of RAIN Summit Europe: provide a format for discussion and debate among industry experts, in a group small enough so that everyone can network and communicate. I hope to see you there, and can’t wait to tell you all about it…
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!