Monthly Archives: July, 2009

Game On. Goom Radio US Launches

goomThe much anticipated launch of the US version of Goom Radio took place earlier this week. Goom, a french based Internet radio site, got a lot of attention from the digital audio space earlier this spring when they announced that they had secured $16M in funding and hired several notable radio executives for their US based operations. Goom Radio France launched in 2008 and is led by Emmanuel Jayr and Roberto Ciurleo, former executives at NRJ, France’s number one radio station.

Goom’s US executive team is led by CEO Rob Williams, who most recently served as President and Market Manager for Clear Channel NY, and chief sales officer Drew Hilles, who led dMarc Broadcasting, through an acquisition by Google, where he served as a director for four years. Before joining Clear Channel, Williams was at AMFM, Inc. Hilles was most recently director of audio content partnerships and ad sales for Google. Tim Herbster, who was most recently music director for New York’s Z100 will serve as head of programming for Goom Radio.

“We have put together a stellar team, all with a strong background in radio and an eye toward the future of programming for the Internetgoom screenshot generation,” said Williams, “to establish Goom Radio as a unique alternative to what is currently available in the world of online music. Our objective is to create remarkable radio experiences, something we feel the current generation of online offerings has not really focused on, truly bringing together the best of both the radio and the Internet.”

Goom Radio will distinguish itself from the Internet radio pack with an approach that is closer to broadcast radio programming with live personalities, shows and artist interviews. Unique features, not yet launched, include the ability to create your own radio station and share it with your friends. From their website: “Be a DJ and influence your own mix, schedule your own shows and jingles, talk about the music that is important to you. Soon, we’ll even help you upload or record your own content.”

Goom also uses “proprietary technology” to offer enhanced sound quality. Truthfully, on my little laptop speakers, I’m not sure that I would have noticed. I’ve heard they will be licensing this technology to other streaming stations as well.

I listened to Goom Radio for a while and thought it sounded fine – The top 40 channel had a similar sound to a live FM top 40 major market station. I’ll look forward to playing with the more interactive features. The social networking tools are fun – I was able to easily tweet about what I was listening to, and could have put it on facebook as easily if I wanted to. Interestingly, I also heard some commercials (after just one song) – one for Proflowers and one for Netflix. Plus an audio preroll that launched as soon as I navigated to the site. They’re wasting no time in establishing their business model…

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MySpace Music Sees Huge Traffic Growth

MySpace Music is adding audience at a great pace, according to Nielsen Online’s June Data.  Since the site’s launch in September 2008, unique visitors to the music.myspace.com subdomain have increased 190 percent — growing from 4.2 million unique visitors to 12.1 million in June 2009.nielsen june 09

Year-over-year traffic to the URL has increased 1,017 percent. In June, unique visitor traffic ranked third in the music category, behind category leaders AOL Music and Yahoo! Music – and ahead of other category leaders such as MTV Networks and Pandora.

People between the ages of 12 and 17 were 2.4 time more likely than the average active Internet user to visit music.myspace.com. Visitors between 18 and 24 were 2.2 more likely than the average Internet user to visit the site in June.

MySpace Music launched last September as a joint venture with the major record labels. Recently, there were reports that the labels were disappointed with lackluster returns in terms of actual sales. However, new surveys such as this one indicate that MySpace Music may well be heading in the right direction by combining the social networking features of the main portal with on-demand music options.

Report: Marketplace Wants Ad Supported Music Download Service

There’s plenty of room in the digital music marketplace for ad supported music download services, according to a new study. The annual Digital Music Discovery & Purchase Process study – part of TEMPO, an Ipsos bi-annual study of digital music behaviors – is an in-depth examination of how US Downloaders and Streamers discover and acquire or purchase digital music.

Findings from the study indicate that ad-supported downloading is a key channel the music industry should embrace in conjunction with the efforts currently being undertaken to combat filesharing if it is to reach the largest consumer audience possible with valued music offerings.

ipsos pieMany people who fileshare would, given the choice, turn to an ad-supported service as their source of music downloads, if it were available. In fact, the study actually suggests that many so-called filesharers would prefer to have a legal way to obtain free music downloads – in the form of an ad-supported model.

There’s plenty of room in the pool for this type of business model, according to this new information. No one is doing it – at least not in a significant way. And there’s plenty of incentive – if forced to choose something other than filesharing, about two-thirds of those currently involved in it would enter the legitimate market – almost entirely on the free ad-supported side.

Reduce illegal filesharing and create revenue at the same time? Sounds like a solution the labels should be looking closely at…

If forced to choose something other than filesharing, about two-thirds of those
currently involved in it would enter the legitimate market – almost entirely on the free
ad-supported side.

Flycast’s New Features Nothing To Swat At

flycast screen shotFlycast’s mobile broadcast platform seems to be getting better and better. Last week they announced “the next stage of their evolution” with advanced station caching capabilities. This means that listeners will be able to continue to listen to their selected stations even when they are not connected – such as on planes, trains, or even, as the announcement says, on submarines or African safaris!

It’s clever, sophisticated technology too – the stations cache wirelessly, so you don’t have to be “tethered via USB” to use the caching function. Caching and playing a station also uses less battery than streaming, (an appealing feature for those of us that know how quickly streaming depletes battery life on iphones).

All of this new technology does come with a price – Flycast is offering a trial period, and then pricing per device, which seems pretty reasonable, given that the original mobile app is free: Users will be able to try the station caching for 7 days, after which they will be able to purchase the 5 hour cache version for a one-time fee of $9.95 and the 20 hour cache version for $19.95. This fee is good for the life of the device.

Flycast has added some other features that should be attractive to their broadcast partners, such as the ability to offer premium content for micro payments, some new, cooler player features, and more.

Kudos to Flycast for their new launch. The caching feature is great – and I love the way they’re monetizing it, offering a free standard version and a paid one with significant upgrades. These improvements should bring them continued placement in top ten lists like this one for best free Blackberry apps…

Study: Streaming Up, Filesharing Down in UK

earbudsTeens are streaming more music and filesharing less, according to a newly released study by The Leading Question/Music Ally of UK music fans. New research shows that illegal filesharing is being replaced by legal streaming activity as more and more teens are streaming and sharing playlists online.

What’s more, this trend to increased streaming is leading to increased songs being purchased. There are now more UK music fans regularly buying single track downloads(19%) than file-sharing single tracks (17%) each month according to the new study.

The results of this report suggest that – at least in the UK – licensed streaming services that provide easy access to new music are replacing filesharing activity among teens. The best way to beat piracy is to create great new licensed services that are easier and more fun to use – like streaming services such as Spotify (not currently available to US listeners, but coming later this year) or services that offer unlimited mP3 downloads and streams, such as a new service recently announced by Virgin.

This is news that should be of interest to online stations and music labels here in the US as well. As mobile platforms for Internet radio expand, more and more teens are listening to Internet radio. Sites that enable music sampling and sharing are particularly appealing as they mimic the kind of behavior that drove listeners to share music illegally. What’s more, the study also shows that once they share and sample music on a stream, they’re likely to purchase it. That’s a win win for streaming services and record companies.

Web Radio Has Momentum

mediaweekOne thing that Web radio has going for it is momentum. So says MediaWeek, in a broadly informative article about Internet radio’s strengths, advertisers and audience metrics. The article features advertiser Esurance as an example of the kind of advertiser who bought into Internet radio early (the advertiser started running spots on Internet radio stations in November 2006), and has steadily increased its spending in the medium. The company’s media director Darren Howard says the medium’s targetability and popularity with the right demographic are appealing and Esurance now spends half of its radio budget on Internet radio stations.

They’re not alone –  other early online radio advertisers such as Lending Tree, Orbitz, Match.com, Walmart, Ace Hardware and Proctor and Gamble. More and more national advertisers are seeing the value in online radio’s fast growing audience.

Revenue is growing, national advertising is increasing, so how much is the Internet radio ad space marketplace worth? Not so easy to find an answer to that one. There isn’t any easy way to determine that, given the lack of any central reporting for the industry. While hard numbers may be lacking in terms of revenue in the marketplace, there’s plenty of data available on the audience, as this comprehensive article points out. From Arbitron’s annual analysis of the marketplace, we know that 17% of the 12+ population is listening on a weekly basis, up from 8% a couple of years ago.

One of Internet radio’s greatest assets is its measurability. Online connections mean that each listener can be counted and every impression tracked. Internet radio tech startup Ando Media has made who’s listening to Internet radio its business, and earlier this year much of the marketplace consolidated in choosing Ando’s Webcast Metrics as its uniform audience measurement platform. That’s a good thing, according to MediaVest’s Melissa Colon, “It’s really hard to evaluate when they’re all on different measurements.”

Internet radio’s measureability is one of thebiggest attractions to advertisers, who are expecting more from their ad dollars. So says Maja Mijatovic, VP, Director of National Radio at Horizon. Internet radio’s “ability to guarantee impressions and provide a post within 48 hours after a campaign runs sets it apart from terrestrial radio.” This will lead the radio industry to greater accountability, she says.

Despite the title, (Stream it Like You Mean it), this is a good article. It’s great that more mainstream trades are taking note of Internet radio and writing about it!

NPR, mvyRadio Stream Newport Music Festivals

newport folk

Newport Folk Festival

Streaming live music performances is nothing new for mvyradio, the online version on WMVY on Martha’s Vineyard. The station has been doing it for years. This year, they join forces with NPR and WFUV to provide live streams of all performances from the Newport Folk Festival on August 1st and 2nd – which means if you can hook yourself up to an online connection, grab a beach chair and some sunglasses and find a cool ocean breeze you just might be able to imagine the awesomeness of the real thing.

NPR Music, Fordham University’s WFUV-FM NYC, FolkAlley.com (WKSU) Kent, Ohio, and mvyradio on Martha’s Vineyard and in Newport are covering all acts from the Folk Festival on August 1 and 2 – which celebrates its 50th anniversary with performances by trailblazers Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, and current favorites The Decemberists and Neko Case. At the Jazz Festival on August 8 and 9, NPR Music with WBGO Newark and WGBH Boston are broadcasting and webcasting four complete line-ups from three stages, headlined by Tony Bennett, Mos Def, Miguel Zenon Quartet and The Bad Plus with Wendy Lewis.

Plus, in a cool effort to drive traffic to their site, NPR is offering downloadable music samplers. Music from this year’s festivals can be elvispreviewed by downloading two free 12-song “NPR Music at Newport” Samplers (one folk, one jazz), featuring many of the acts NPR Music will webcast and broadcast from both festivals.

This is nothing new for mvyradio, the online worldwide version of WMVY on Martha’s Vineyard. The station started streaming live performances from the Newport Folk Festival in 2005, when Elvis Costello took the stage. (I was there!) mvyradio has made a name for itself in providing live and archived streams of live music performances – their archives include an unbelievable list of great music festivals and musicians – from SXSW and the Ottawa Blues Festival to Amos Lee, Patty Griffin, Ani DiFranco, Emmy Lou Harris, and station friends Carly Simon and James Taylor, they’ve got more performances and interviews than I’ve seen available online anywhere.

Pandora: Broadcasters Should Pay Performance Royalties

pandoraLast week, after news that Pureplay Webcasters had reached an agreement with Sound Exchange on performance royalties, Internet radio industry darling Pandora made more news by announcing support for the Performance Rights Act before Congress. That bill would require AM/FM broadcasters to pay performance royalties as well.

Deep background, for those who don’t have it, is that in 1998 the Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed requiring various forms of new media, including satellite and Internet radio, to pay performance royalties on digital media transmissions. Traditional broadcasters have not paid performance royalties. Broadcasters have maintained that the benefits that musicians receive from having their songs played on radio stations is substantial and therefore replaces the need for additional payments.

While I believe that’s true – that the value of playing a song on the radio is substantial – the fact remains that record companies are suffering from an enormous shift in the way music is purchased, and their business is way down. I’ve been saying for a long time that future of the music industry – both record companies and music services (AM, FM, online, whatever) is going to be one of sharing revenue. Radio stations can’t survive if record companies do not find a way to profit.

There are many ways to argue against Pandora’s stance. Just because they have to pay royalties, why does that mean broadcasters should. Isn’t that an eye for an eye mentality? Sure, I think that’s a good point  – why should Pandora want broadcasters to be penalized in the name of fairness?

A much better point, also made by Pandora, is that they want to see musicians get their fair share. Because, whether broadcasters like it or not, if musicians and their labels can’t make money, the system is flawed, and the industry is doomed.

Congratulations to Pureplay Webcasters

Last week, “Pureplay” webcasters and Sound Exchange came to agreement on royalty rates for the use of sound recordings by Internet Radio stations for the period from 2006-2010. The deal, and analysis of it’s benefits, have been well summarized by David Oxenford (the attorney that represented the webcasters) here, and by Kurt Hanson, Publisher of RAIN: The Radio and Internet Newsletter on his blog.

kurtAs Hanson explains, the deal benefits “webcasters who … who have aspirations of earning more than $1.25 million in revenues per year — but are not wholly-owned divisions of multi-billion-dollar companies (e.g., AOL & Yahoo and CBS & other terrestrial broadcast groups). Those webcasters, and some of the known parties in the group, are Pandora, AccuRadio, Digitally Imported and Radioio.

Like the deal negotiated by broadcasters with Sound Exchange earlier this year, this agreement saves these webcasters from further costly CRB (Copyright Royalty Board) negotiations, establishes performance royalty rates that are lower than the rates established by the CRB, and gives smaller webcasters fixed percentage of revenue rates until they hit annual revenue marks somewhere over a million per year.

While there are critics, there’s no doubt that this deal benefits the certain group that participated in the negotiations, giving them relief from CRB-established rates. Congrats to David Oxenford, Kurt Hanson, Joe Kennedy, Ari Shohat, Mike Roe, and others who participated in the negotiations – I know from previous experience that it’s a long and frustrating process. More importantly, it’s a very expensive process – other webcasters that benefit from this option owe thanks and perhaps more to the companies that stepped up to get it done.

How To Connect With Your Audience

I read a great article about branding on Chris Brogan’s blog the other day which emphasized that branding is not just about how you market your brand, product or service, but also about how you distribute it. Very successful product/brands have established successful channels of distribution for those products/brands.

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, social media sites in general are channels of distribution for your messages. Ways that you, your brand or product can connect directly with your audience. Get it?

amanda palmerHere’s a real life great example. Amanda Palmer is a musician. Singer, songwriter, pianist, formerly of a band called The Dresden Dolls and more recently a solo performer. Amanda Palmer is also a masterful promoter of her personal brand. Which is the part I want to tell you about.

Amanda Palmer has over 38000 followers on Twitter. According to a post she wrote recently here, she loves Twitter and tweets whenever she can because it allows her to connect directly with her fans. (She gets it.) So she wrote a post called “How an Indie Musician can make $19000 in 10 Hours using Twitter” in which she describes how she was “hanging out on Twitter” on a friday night with her network of followers, mainly cracking jokes and complaining about losers who have nothing better to do than hang out on Twitter on a friday night. This turned into the number one topic on Twitter, which meant the popularity of the group increased even more.

So Amanda and her friend/web guy put together a quick website and started selling tshirts, then had a webcast auction for which she performed live and sold other stuff signed by her. After that, she offered a Twitter Donation-Only Gig and got donations for that. As she puts it in her post,“TOTAL MADE THIS MONTH USING TWITTER = $19,000 TOTAL MADE FROM 30,000 RECORD SALES = ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.”

The post is worth reading (expletives alert) – she’s quite a character. The point is, Amanda Palmer is a masterful marketer of her brand. Her distribution channels allow her to connect with her audience and sell her product – which is her music and her personality.

Standard distribution channels for the music industry are dying. Both the radio industry and record companies are struggling to find new business models. Solutions are found in stories like Amanda Palmer’s. Put the focus on your distribution channels. Give your listeners lots of access to your brand. Love your audience and connect with them often.

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