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.
AOL 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!
Yesterday SiriusXM launched their new personalized streaming platform MySXM, a streaming option available to its subscribers for an add-on fee. The service features 50 channels that can be adjusted using “slider bars” to suit the listener’s personalized tastes. It’s described as more interactive than Pandora, with on-demand features that go beyond what Pandora offers. Backend music intelligence platform The Echo Nest provides the service with its personalization, and Omniphone provides cloud based services.
Make no mistake, SiriusXM is still a satellite company, and this new offering is all about protecting its subscriber base. With an estimated 120 million folks in the US listening online in the past month, streaming is the fastest growing radio platform. Offering that as an option is a way to preserve its subscriber base.
According to year end reports, SiriusXM had close to 24 million subscribers at the end of last year, while Pandora has 200 million subscribers, 70 million of whom are actively monthly users. SiriusXM does not provide information other than subscribers.
Muve Music, a music subscription service that is a division of Cricket Wireless, recently announced that they have more than a million subscribers in the US. Cricket sells prepaid, no contract wireless service for smartphones and cellphones.
The million mark for subscribers in the US is a number that in the past year Spotify and Rhapsody have mentioned as well. Other subscription services that are a factor are Pandora, with their Pandora One service, MOG and Rdio. No one really knows how big those services are, although I’d guess that Pandora One is well over a million, and MOG and Rdio are under. Sirius XM also sells subscriptions as add-ons to their satellite music customer base.
According to a recently released annual study of music sales by IFPI, the number of people paying to use subscription services grew 44 per cent in 2012 to 20 million globally. Subscription revenues are expected to account for more than 10 per cent of digital revenues for the first time in 2012. (again, that’s a global report). Subscription services are credited with replacing illegal download activity, and also with replacing music download sales.
With several services in the US hitting the million subscriber mark and subscription based revenues projected to make up 10% of digital revenues for the music industry, it’s certainly become a viable business model for streaming. The upcoming RAIN Summit in Las Vegas on Sunday April 7th will feature several speakers from subscription based streaming services, including Rhapsody CEO Jon Irwin, who will deliver a keynote speech. Speakers from SiriusXM and Spotify will join panels as well.
For more information on RAIN Summit West and to register, click here. See you there!
Connected audio in cars may be last year’s news, but the level of interactivity is challenging auto manufacturers to work with developers to create some pretty inventive applications. Enter Gracenote, an independent division of Sony, that collects data points on millions of songs and provides backend services that enable song recommendations to streaming services (for example).
Now Gracenote has found a way to tap into the Control Area Network of a Ford Focus and use the data to create song recommendations based on the way you are driving. For example, when the windshield wipers are on, you might hear a bluesy tune to match the rainy road, but when you’re driving fast down the highway, your playlist may serve up a song like the Beach Boys, and high beams might trigger Ray of Light by Madonna.
More than anything, this puts a whole new meaning on the “connected car” concept. Your car is not just connected to the Internet, it’s connected to the weather, and traffic conditions and the way that you are driving. Really, you have to marvel at the concept (while you kind of wonder about it’s usefulness).
Abacast 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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.”