Emmis Communications has announced that they will partner with Stream The World as a streaming platform for all of their broadcast streams. AndoMedia will provide audience measurement and ad management tools for the stations. It’s a big announcement, given that Emmis has been slow to commit to a comprehensive streaming strategy for its stations.
As an example, Emmis has just begun streaming WQHT in New York, one of their biggest stations. Emmis has long believed that streaming royalties were cost prohibitive, so they held off putting their largest station online, fearing the audience/royalties that station would rack up.
Ironically, while remaining half-hearted on a streaming strategy, Emmis has taken the lead in developing online web identities for its stations, and invested in Emmis Interactive, an independant unit that provides software tools and consulting services to stations. Emmis Interactive, led by digital experts Deb Esayian and Ray Mena, provides content and database management tools and sales and interactive strategy consulting to a long list of broadcasters (including, of course, the Emmis group).
This is a great move by Emmis that makes a lot of sense. They’ve chosen partners who are market leaders in Stream The World and AndoMedia. AndoMedia has become the defacto audience measurement provider for Internet radio stations, and their ad management tools enable stations to deliver targeted ads and provide excellent impression based accountability to advertisers.
I received a newsletter from NAB announcing the “world’s first interactive radio station”. I have to admit, this got my attention, given that I can name a good handful of Internet radio stations that have been streaming for some time now, while offering lots of interactive options to listeners.
Turns out this announcement was ignoring Internet radio stations that are interactive, and was referring to a station in the UK which is now available on the UK’s DAB Digital Audio Network. DAB is known as HD Radio here in the US. Since the word “interactive” usually refers to Internet based platforms, this is a weird way to describe a DAB station.
Nonetheless, Amazing Radio is kind of cool in several respects. All of the music on Amazing Radio is by unsigned artists who have uploaded their music to the site. What gets played when is decided by the listeners, who can create playlists and indicate their favorite songs by clicking on cute heart and broken heart icons. One article I read called this “democratic radio”.
Amazing Radio is also an Internet radio station. Several new stations are focused on providing unsigned and independant artists with the opportunity to get played on the radio. Jango and Grooveshark are two stations that allow independant artists to purchase some number of song plays. Listeners can indicate their preferences on the new songs, and that feedback influences the future frequency of play for the artist.
As a matter of fact, this is a great concept for geographically targeted stations, such as streaming broadcasters. A streaming or HD channel could feature regional musicians and provide information on the local music scene, feature interviews with local musicians, and more. In addition to attracting local ears, it would be a great way to score local ad dollars.
Always the innovator, Pandora launched a new ad product last week that gave listeners a first listen to the new Dave Matthews Band album. Dave Matthews Band’s fans were able to stream the new album, “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King,” in its entirety, a week before its commercial release, perhaps marking the first time a major musician has used streaming audio as a key part of an album release.
As the debut advertiser for the new ad platform, Brita’s “Filter for Good” campaign is using the stage to promote filling reusable water bottles with filtered tap water instead of buying single-serve water bottles that add to the landfill. Brita’s Pandora integrated ad campaign included homepage takeover tuner skins, mobile banner ads, its own FilterForGood.com branded radio station featuring organic streaming of DMB songs with audio intro messaging, and a custom landing page with links to a pledge form to receive Brita Filter coupons and to buy a Nalgene reusable water bottle. To date, Brita estimates that, as a result of the campaign, 131 million bottles have been saved from land fill.
“Pandora is committed to constantly innovating to bring national brand advertisers exclusive content sponsorship opportunities,” said Cheryl Lucanegro, SVP, advertising sales for Pandora. “These cutting-edge content deals give advertisers like Brita the chance to associate their brand and message with an exclusive music experience and the ensuing good will of Pandora’s diehard fans.”
According to Lucanegro, the DMB album release is the first of what Pandora hopes will be one of the most coveted ad platforms in their product portfolio as other major performing artists debut their new releases on Pandora before going on sale in stores.
Congrats to Pandora for designing such a high profile promotion for an advertiser. The fact that the promotion was launched with the debut of an album by an artist with the caliber of Dave Matthews makes it even more powerful. It’s an outstanding example of ways that Internet radio can create innovative features for ad partners. And it’s a “green”, environmental campaign to top it off. More, more!
Microsoft’s Zune Player will add HD Radio technology. The Zune HD will feature an HD Radio Tuner, and is designed to take on Apple’s iTouch. Broadcasters quickly rallied around this announcement last week, as this will be the first HD Radio mobile device.
Nevermind that the Zune will also play Internet radio (with a wifi connection), that fact is not even mentioned. Broadcasters are still trying to shove HD Radio down listener’s throats. Since the launch of HD Radio in 2005, nearly 2,000 radio stations have made the transition, launched hundreds of HD side channels, lots of manufacturers and auto manufacturers have rolled out receivers. But consumer acceptance has lagged. Reportedly, HD Radio still does not have 1 million listeners. Internet radio? 42 million listeners weekly, according to the latest Arbitron/Edison survey.
In some ways, Zune and HD Radio are perfect partners. Microsoft’s Zune is a weak second choice to Apple’s iPod and iTouch, while HD Radio takes that position alongside Internet radio. But Broadcasters are still holding out hope that HD Radio listening and demand will grow.
The decision to equip the new Zune with HD Radio technology definitely leaves industry watchers scratching their heads. Mostly, I want to know who was responsible for selling Microsoft on the idea. That’s an accomplishment I’ll take my hat off to…
The icy relationship between major music labels and digital music services may be thawing, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
Imeem, a digital music service that lets people listen, share and discover music based on their tastes and friends’ recommendations, had 26 million people a month using their service and owed the labels millions of dollars, but their income from advertising was far from covering royalties. The rumor was that they were about to shut down. Instead, Warner forgave their debt and relaxed their licensing deals with Imeem, and Universal followed suit , relaxing rates as well. Imeem ended up raising more money from investors as a result of a more positive financial outlook.
It seems that the record labels were seeing the value of 26 million Imeem users. As part of the new relationship with the labels, Imeem will push users to purchase tshirts and concert tickets and will soon add a song download store similar to iTunes. Revenues from these sales will be shared with the labels.
“We are trying to figure out how to restructure partnerships and develop a healthier ecosystem where entrepreneurs can continue to innovate,” said Michael Nash, executive vice president for digital strategy at Warner Music. “Entrepreneurs are also realizing they need to spend as much energy on their business model as they do on technological innovation.”
Digital music services have struggled to create profitable business models. The labels have watched some online services fail, while others, such as MySpace Music, have returned disappointing results. This may have been the impetus behind the recent deal Warner gave to Imeem. It’s a fine line – the labels want to make money for music played by the services, but it’s been difficult to discern where reasonable costs begin.
One thing that seems to be helping is that services are working hard to create profitable business models. Pandora, one of the most popular streaming music services, recently announced that they would expand the number of audio commercials they run on their channels, and also offer a subscription based ad-free service. Pandora also sells display advertising, and lots of music downloads. They have publicly stated that they expect to cover costs and see profit by next year.
Online music services are perceived as a threat to hard copy music sales and therefore music labels want to be compensated for songs played. Copyright laws require rates to be negotiated between the two parties, which is where the problem has been – the labels have been demanding higher rates than the services can pay, wanting the music sites to develop more aggressive business models with multiple revenue streams. It makes sense for the labels to support services like Imeem and Pandora as explore routes to profitability. The future of digital music online depends on it.
New Internet radio audience data released by AndoMedia showed minimal changes from last month’s information. CBSRadio’s Internet radio platform, which includes both AOL and Yahoo’s streaming audience, as well as Last.fm and all the streaming broadcast stations, is definitely the elephant in the room with a weekly cume of over 6 million listeners. Their relatively small AQH indicates that much of that audience is sampling that is not necessarily converted to longer listening sessions, but I suspect CBS is not too concerned about that right now. Everyone’s sampling Internet radio.
The Katz Online Network and CBSRadio’s network both saw positive upticks of less than 5%, while Clear Channel Network’s cume lost about ten percent. ESPN had a cume growth spurt of 5%, but AQH was static to down slightly. Online brands Digitally Imported and 977 Music were remarkably steady in their numbers, while AccuRadio saw a drop of about 10% in its cume, although less than that in AQH.
AndoMedia recently announced that it will begin measuring both the Targetspot network and standalone online brand Pandora. Adding those two entities to the mix should significantly shake things up.
Toyota’s Scion brand is not a newcomer to advertising on Internet radio – in fact, they may have been one of the first national brands to buy into online radio back in 2005. Since then they’ve advanced their presence in several ways. Last year they launched their own branded multi-channel station, and now they’re releasing an app for iPhone and iTouch.
The new iPhone app – ‘Scion Radio 17 BPM Meter’ – automatically calculates the BPM of a song as users tap the screen to the song’s rhythm. After recording the song’s BPM, users can create playlists by genre and send their song lists with corresponding BPM info to themselves and others.
“Scion is always looking for ways to keep its customers engaged with the brand so we created the ‘Scion Radio 17 BPM Meter’ with unique create-and-share playlist abilities to appeal to our trendsetting and tech savvy audience of iPhone and iPod touch users,” said Jeri Yoshizu, Scion sales promotions manager. “Additionally, given the fact that Scion has always worked with DJs and respected their culture, we wanted to give our audience a useful tool for their craft.”
The app also features links and info about Scion Radio 17, the brand’s multi-channel Internet radio station, which targets a similar core audience. The station’s channels include HiJack Radio which focuses on British Underground HipHop and Reach – which is blue collar reality based rap without the “propaganda”, as well as other formats. Scion Radio 17 obviously has a deep understanding of its target audience. The site offers video clips, DJ Personality shows and interviews, merchandise and more. It’s a bold and gutsy marketing platform.
In both the newly launched iPhone app and the Internet radio station, Toyota has moved beyond the idea of selling its product by creating great looking ads and instead has invested in creating digital audio platforms that engage their audience with their brand directly. Rather than focusing on advertising to their customer, Toyota is focused on providing content that engages them. It wants to be taken seriously. The result is an impressive marketing strategy.