Monthly Archives: August, 2009

Streaming Music That’s Out of This World

flickr photo credit fdecomite

flickr photo credit fdecomite

Project Calliope is a satellite that will function as a music instrument in space. The satellite will have an “ionospheric detector” which will transmit “sonifiable data” for web streaming. Sandy Antunes, one of the partners in the project, explains it as just like having a MIDI keyboard or MIDI drum in space, only the sensors are ionospheric magnetic and temperature sensors for the melody and harmony.  Since the satellite is spinning, they will try to add optical sensors as well to provide a backbeat.

Although they’ll own the music that gets created, they plan to offer use of it to their sponsor royalty free.”We’re declaring up front that the music/data is available for anyone to reuse or remix as they see fit, without restriction and without cost.” Antunes says, adding “It’s our ‘performance’.  We could charge for it, though I find that silly and unartistic.”

Project Calliope has secured a media sponsor and is seeking a music sponsor as a partner, according to Antunes. ” The sponsor gets to stream the music, offer it for remixing, build a remixing community (if they’re into that sort of thing), and promote something really cool. ” He thinks an Internet radio station would be a perfect match. I agree – it seems like a great way to get additional traffic. They’re looking for $4k from the sponsor, which seems pretty reasonable, given all the buzz you could generate – both here on earth and in outer space….

mp3’s Impact on the Music Industry

photo credit: flickr restless globetrotter

photo credit: flickr restless globetrotter

An article in Pitchfork provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of music sales and the impact of the mp3 format on it. Basically, by eliminating middlemen, digital music tore control of music away from the major record companies and put it in the hands of the listeners.

The nature of the established music industry drove the need and desire for more control. Record labels created a closed system, where it was impossible to get a break if you were a musician. Music was force fed to consumers in album based rather than song based units, forcing listeners to buy more than they wanted. Mp3’s changed the currency to songs rather than albums, and made it easy to create duplicates and transfer them.

Cheap, flexible platforms “such as peer-to-peer networks, bloggers, Rapidshare, MySpace, Last.fm, and Pandora” give listeners the control and access they want. Unfortunately, it’s not access that record companies want listeners to have. Ultimately, “mp3s, flowing through peer-to-peer networks and other pathways hidden in plain sight, have performed the radical task of separating music from the music industry.” As a result, the recording industry has desperately sought to regain control of music based on intellectual property and copyright claims.

By placing control of music in the hands of music fans, mp3’s have contributed to the disruption – and quite possibly extinction – of the established music industry. How artists will be compensated for their art in the future has yet to be determined. Actually, according to the article, it will be music fans who will have to determine a fair way to create a fair system going forward. That’s a complex thought, and I think it may be asking a little too much. Arming record companies with copyright legislation and watching them try to control access to streaming content, peer to peer networks and personal use isn’t the answer either. The solutions are still out there and yet to be defined.

A Delicious List of Websites

Time Magazine has published a list of 50 Best Websites, which will provide me with several hours of surfing. Without checking out any of the ones I haven’t heard of, I am delighted to see Delicious sitting at #3, although I would have put it at number one. Delicious, a social deliciousbookmarking site owned by Yahoo, is the one place on the web I visit everyday and could not live without. I use it to organize things I read, sites I visit, and all information that I find on the web. I frequently bookmark articles there for the Articles I’m Reading section of Audio4cast.

Another site that I use a lot, Flickr, is also on the list. I use this one to get images for my blog, but it’s also a great place to share pics. Twitter, Google, Facebook and Skype, all indispensable to my online self, made the list as well.

Pandora, Spotify, Musicovery and Last.fm represent Internet radio on the list. Pandora and Last.fm are “near twin radio killers” according to Time, while Musicovery is “a music-streaming site with a mood-ring interface that works like a soundboard for adjusting your robot DJ’s musical taste….(with an interface) so radically different from Pandora and Last.fm that it seems like it was beamed from an ultra-sophisticated, über-arty future utopia. ” Spotify, according to Time, is the holy grail, celestial jukebox that will stream any song you want and pay the royalties for you. Given that you can’t listen in the US yet, it might be just a little early for them to appear on this list, but it’s definitely trendy to talk about them.

It’s a great list. Unfortunately, they forgot Audio4cast, but there’s always next year….

BigChampagne Knows Who’s Listening

big champagneMusic tracking, both online and offline, legit and not so, is big business for BigChampagne. The company, which recently announced a measurement deal with Universal, has done well in recent years by specializing in tracking music consumption across multiple platforms. As consumer listening behavior has shifted, this service has become more and more valuable.

According to Wired’s Epicenter blog, “BigChampagne gets real-time data feeds deeper than what is surfaced to consumers on various services: iTunes, broadcast radio, Last.fm, retail outlets, Rhapsody, and file-sharing networks. It collates this data so that music and marketing people from interns to executives can see what we’re listening to on various networks, allowing them to plan tours, choose singles, and figure out where to advertise.”

Since the company’s launch in 2000, BigChampagne has become an increasingly bigger source of intelligence for record companies about who’s listening to their music, what music they’re listening to and where they are listening. They also have partial IP and zipcode data on illegal filesharing. BigChampagne holds limited partnerships with Warner Music Group, Sony and BMI as well.

As part of the deal with Universal, BigChampagne will provide with an analysis of songs and listening patterns from millions of users of social networks, including Twitter and Facebook, and online music services from iTunes to Amazon.

BigChampagne is definitely looking to eat into Nielsen’s share of measurement of the entertainment sector, and has been quicker to adapt to measuring new platforms. To date, all the reporting is focused on song and artist data – BigChampagne does not provide info that compares services to anyone – so there’s no info on how MySpace Music compares to other services or how iTunes is doing versus Amazon. But make no mistake, they’re watching…

Visa Signs Up With iheartradio

strippedClear Channel’s on demand channel “Stripped” will now be available as a full time digital radio station, offering archived programming from the company’s collection of live artist performances and interviews. The new 24/7 station is integrated into the iheartradio platform and exclusively sponsored by Visa Signature. Visa’s sponsorship also includes on-air talent endorsements, a “channel takeover” of both the iheartradio application available for iPhone and BlackBerry as well as the stripped player widget.

The station will provide a vast array of live performances, from acoustic to plugged-in, as well as the series’ signature ‘cover tunes’. Between songs, listeners will hear artists share stories ranging from their first concert as a fan to their favorite new music. More than 125 artists have performed for the stripped on-demand series since the program’s launch with John Legend in May 2005. Other participating artists include Taylor Swift, Maxwell, Alicia Keys, Coldplay, Linkin Park, Sugarland, Green Day, Kanye West, The Fray, Lily Allen, Bon Jovi, John Mayer, Silversun Pickups, Rascal Flatts, Leona Lewis, and many more.

iheartradio is Clear Channel’s web and mobile based streaming platform. Other channels include erockster, Pride, White House Brief, 350 streaming broadcast stations, and recently launched artist-programmed channels from Christina Aguilera, Joe Walsh and others. iheartradio has mobile apps for iPhone and Blackberry as well.

This is not the first time Clear Channel has announced a blue chip advertiser as sponsor of their streaming audio offerings. Verizon and Fox Television are among the other big brands that have signed on to sponsorships on the iheartradio platform.


Batanga Launches Hispanic Ad Network

Batanga_smallThe US Hispanic Internet population is growing faster than any other group of Internet users, and that’s good news for Batanga. Batanga.com, the Hispanic entertainment platform that features Internet radio stations, videos and social networking geared toward the US Hispanic population, has led the marketplace with US Hispanic adults for more than ten years. The number of  US Hispanics online is estimated to grow by about 8% to more than 22 million users this year.

Recently, Batanga announced the launch of the Batanga Network, which integrates other sites, and utilizes Batanga’s advanced targeting technologies. Marketers are able to use the network to target contextually and behaviorally in both Spanish and English. Clients such as Verizon, Sears, and Sprint have already begun to use the network.

“We are pleased to be utilizing the new targeting capabilities offered by teh Batanga Network as part of our U.S. Hispanic online marketing efforst for our clients,” stated Casey Martin, Media Supervisor at Moxie Interactive. We feel strongly that reaching Hispanic consumers online, inc-culture and in-language, is essential to maintaining the growth and development of our clients and their consumers.”

iTunes Sells 25% of US Music

itunes25% of the music sold in the US is sold by iTunes, according to information released by NPD Group. Overall music sales breakout as 35% digital and 65% cd sales, which indicates that while cd sales are still dominant, they’re losing ground rapidly to digital download sales. Last year 30% of the music units sold were digital, the year before it was 20%.

Russ Crupnick, NPD Group vice president of entertainment industry analysis observes:  “with digital music sales growing at 15 to 20 percent, and CDs falling by an equal proportion, digital music sales will nearly equal CD sales by the end of 2010.”

Meanwhile, iTunes also continued to solidify its lead in the digital music arena, as consumer downloads from iTunes comprised 69 percent of the digital music market in the first half of 2009, followed by AmazonMP3 at 8 percent. Walmart leads all sellers of CDs with a 20 percent share of the physical music market, followed by Best Buy at 16 percent and Target and Amazon tied at 10 percent each.

Selling music online can be a significant revenue opportunity for online music platforms. Earlier this year Techcrunch reported that Pandora was selling about a million songs a month, to the the tune of $1 million in revenue a month, $12  million per year . (Pandora’s share being some part of that figure). It’s not accidental – their platform (both web and mobile) is designed to encourage music discovery and purchases.

The key to selling music downloads is more than simply putting affiliate links on your site or player. The marketplace is moving online  and that’s a real opportunity for streaming broadcasters and other online stations to sell music. Are you thinking of ways to get your audience to buy music while they are listening to your station?

BlogTalkRadio Gets Presidential

btr obamaBlogTalkRadio, an innovative, multi-channel streaming platform that aggregates talk radio programs, will host President Obama live on wednesday on a program called 40 Minutes for Health Reform. The show is hosted by a group called Faith for Health, and according to a report in Techcrunch, “the President’s part will be the last 10 minutes of the show after he listens in on the first 30 minutes during which there will be a roundtable discussion about the topic with the leaders of the non-profit group, Faithful America.”

BlogTalkRadio is an interesting hybrid of an Internet radio station and a blogging/social media site. The platform hosts lots of one hour to once a day programs, and gives anyone the chance to create their own streaming radio show. Shows are streamed live and span topics from yoga to politics, and everything in between.

I’ve been impressed by how President Obama has adopted innovative social-media technology during his campaign and into his administration,” says Alan Levy, CEO of BlogTalkRadio. “We’re honored that he has selected BlogTalkRadio as his newest requisite platform for communicating directly with the American people.

It is indeed wonderful both that the President is using new social media tools to reach out to his constituents, and that he has chosen Internet radio in particular. Of course, he uses Internet radio, streaming video and podcasts for his weekly address as well.

BlogTalkRadio continues to show its stuff as an interactive streaming platform with plenty of relevance.

Study: Advertisers Get What They Pay For With Online Ads

opaA recently published study of the effectiveness of online display advertising showed that branded content sites consistently outperform portals on key metrics . The study, done by Dynamic Logic for the Online Publishers Association, measured purchase intent – in other words, it looked beyond the clicks to understand the value of the click to the advertiser.

That’s where ad networks and portals fall short compared to ads placed on branded content sites where purchase intent scores were nine times better. The study goes as far as to say that – according to Mediaweek – ad networks effect on purchase intent was negligible. The most dramatic variation in performance was with video ads placed on branded content sites versus ad networks, where the video ads on specific sites tested performed 93% better than the ad network placements.

There’s an ongoing battle in the marketplace between ad networks, who are pricing at low cpms and selling so called remnant inventory, and the branded content sites, such as CNN.com and Forbes.com (which are named in the article), who sell placements on their sites at a premium rate. This study goes a long way in proving the value of branded content site impressions and validates their premium pricing.

It’s good news for content publishers, and good reason to think carefully about how much inventory – if any – a publisher (broadcaster, webcaster) wants to hand over to an ad network. Many sites use ad networks as a repository for significant amounts of remnant advertising, but of course the result is that drives pricing (cpms) down, and delivers poor results to advertisers.

This could easily apply to Internet radio and online audio campaigns as well. While it’s tempting to compete for low cpm network radio ad dollars, the downside to this is that advertisers realize mediocre results and fail to reinvest or invest more in Internet radio. At the same time, every low cpm deal contributes to deflating pricing in the marketplace. It’s difficult to reject any deal in this economy, but the price for flooding the marketplace with cheap cpm inventory could be steep.

Katz 360 Launches Display Network

katz 360Katz 360, the digital arm of Katz Media Group that was born when Katz bought Net Radio Sales, announced a partnership this week with Rubicon Project, a banner/display ad network. According to Brian Benedik, President of Katz 360, they’ve been looking to create an ad banner solution for its group of stations for a while. He’s pleased to be working with Rubicon Project, a young company based in LA that works with many newspaper publishers and broadcasters as well.

Rubicon will work with Katz 360 to optimize remnant inventory for its group of stations, allowing the Katz Network to create a network of display inventory. Benedik says this allows them to aggregate their clients’ inventory on one platform to deliver scale that national advertisers require. The Rubicon Project’s technology, through the Rubicon onDemand platform, enables the Katz 360 team to customize content and audience selections for any of its advertisers across 40 billion monthly impressions representing 500 million unique Internet users and 20,000 premium publisher websites.

“Sales teams who are able to coordinate creative across channels for their advertisers see a recall increase of 60%. Katz has developed onerubicon of the greatest ad sales forces in traditional media. To continue to be one of the largest partners for advertisers in the world, they needed a way to sell audience online that complemented their existing sales offerings. That’s where we come in,” said Frank Addante, CEO and Founder of the Rubicon Project. “We are enabling Katz to digitize content and allow for their sales reps to sell through the Rubicon Project platform – ultimately providing local and national advertisers with premium online inventory and the ability to reach the specific audiences they’re targeting across the most trusted brand-name sites on the Internet.”

According to Benedik, all the pieces are there – scalability, targetability, and a solid technology to deliver it – for the core Katz 360 team plus 350 Katz Media Group sellers to turn this opportunity into dollars.

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