Monthly Archives: June, 2010

Internet Radio Everywhere

Clearwire Corporation, a leading provider of wireless broadband services, last week expanded availability of 4G, super fast mobile Internet service  to St. Louis, Richmond, Va. and Salt Lake City, Utah. Now anyone with the service can now use the Internet at speeds four times faster than 3G — within the CLEAR coverage area.

Sprint currently owns 56 percent of Clearwire, with Intel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Google and Bright House Networks owning much of the rest of the firm. Clearwire plans to launch 80 mobile WiMAX markets by the end of the year they’re already in a bunch of major cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boise, Chicago, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Washington, D.C. and more.

Clearwire’s 4G service is affordable as well – in most markets unlimited 4G coverage from CLEAR starts at $30 for the home while unlimited mobile plans start as low as $40. Bundled services such as Home and On-The-Go and Home and Voice plans start at $55 per month. The pricing, speed and ubiquity of the service make it a formidable competitor for AT&T and Verizon.

In the markets where it is available, Clearwire’s high speed mobile internet connectivity is creating ubiquitous coverage – enabling the kind of constant connectivity that Internet radio listeners can sink their teeth into.

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New App Makes NPR Music Even Better

NPR has been making a name for itself as an online platform for streaming music – and doing a nice job of it. Their First Listen series has debuted music by artists like Norah Jones, David Lynch, Shaangan Electro (new wave dance music from Africa), Herbie Hancock, Bettye LaVette, The National, Josh Ritter, and David Byrne. Are you getting the idea of the diversity and stature of the list? Seems like everyone wants to debut their new tunes on NPR Music

The number of people coming to the site continues to increase, to about 1.7 million unique users in May.

The platform has provided listeners with excellent front seat coverage of big music festivals like Bonnaroo and SXSW. Kinsey Wilson, NPR’s general manager of digital media told the NY Times that since the music site went live in 2007, its staff has “provided a hub where things can originate,”. Wilson says the site expands on the reputation that NPR has for helping folks find unusual things they might not otherwise come across.

The new app enables listeners to easily listen to music by genre, build playlists, and purchases songs. On new iPhones, listeners can do all of this in the background while multitasking. It’s another in a long list of great digital tools that NPR continues to develop – NPR’s digital platform has been leading broadcasters who are looking to extend and expand their brand online…

ESPNRadio’s World Cup Soccer Coverage Sets Streaming Record

ESPNRadio’s coverage of all 64 World Cup soccer matches this year has been a big hit with online listeners. Starting with the opening match on June 11th, through June 20th, World Cup coverage on ESPNRadio generated nearly 3.8 million total listening hours, with an average time spent listening of 47 minutes.

ESPNRadio’s streaming coverage of the US match against Algeria last week brought ESPNRadio its biggest audience ever – the broadcast peaked at 180,000 listeners, according to AndoMedia and was nearly double its previous record, set on June 18th during the US versus Slovenia match. (The US vs Algeria match took place during a week day work day here in the US, driving at work fans to listen online, while the Slovenia match was on a weekend).

The station saw enormous traffic to its website as well – setting a record for site visits and page views as well.

Unfortunately, the US team was defeated by Ghana on saturday, ending their World Cup play. If you missed the game or any of the others, you can listen to a podcast of the game, or recaps of that game or any other in ESPNRadio’s World Cup Central here.

RAIN Awards For Internet Radio’s Best

RAIN:  Radio And Internet Newsletter, the leading trade publication for the Internet radio industry, today announced the creation of  the “RAIN Internet Radio Awards” to recognize the achievement of the industry’s most ambitious and innovative services.

Broadcasters and webcasters in the Internet radio industry can enter their services for awards in three categories:

  • Best Overall Online Radio Service
  • Best Streaming Broadcast Station
  • Best Overall Digital Strategy

“For over ten years, the Internet radio space has been evolving and maturing, and we want to begin to recognize those stations and services whose work has driven that innovation,” said RAIN Publisher Kurt Hanson. “An invited panel of Internet radio’s movers and shakers will review the entries and select winners for this year’s round of awards.”

I’m proud to be working with Kurt, Paul and RAIN on the creation of these annual awards for Internet radio. I think it’s time to begin recognizing excellence in our industry as inspiration to streaming radio services everywhere.

Streaming services and stations can enter the competition by visiting the RAIN Internet Radio Awards webpage and clicking on the category they wish to enter. A fee of $19 per entry is required, and services/stations can enter as many categories as they are eligible for.

Awards will be announced during RAIN Summit East in Washington DC in September (details coming soon on that..)

Arbitron Upgrades PPM Technology

Arbitron has unveiled a new phase in their PPM technology which extends measurement onto a wireless platform. Called the PPM 360, it lays the foundation for the development of future applications for the patented, proprietary PPM technology on multiple consumer devices.

“This innovative approach further liberates audience measurement from the home and enables media, brands and marketers to follow the mobile consumer more closely – which is particularly important for brands appealing to younger demographics,” said William Kerr, President and CEO, Arbitron. “This platform is designed to be an integrated component to our existing radio services and drive future innovation for media measurement.”

The Arbitron Portable People Meter technology tracks consumers’ exposure to media and entertainment, including broadcast, cable and satellite television; terrestrial, satellite and online radio as well as cinema advertising and many types of place-based digital media.

Arbitron has had the capability to detect streaming listening all along with their PPM technology. Thusfar, they have chosen to only use that technology to measure listening to broadcast stations who are adhering to a 100% simulcast rule (and are therefore not monetizing their online ads except as add-ons to broadcast campaigns). It’s basically sidelined Arbitron as a viable option for streaming radio audience measurement.

Arbitron used to measure Internet radio station audiences, first with their own server based technology, then with the acquisition of Measurecast. They eventually shuttered Measurecast and opted for a partnership with comScore, using comScore data and producing audience estimates that were panel based and inadequate for measuring most individual stations.

The PPM 360 press release hints at an interest in extending audience measurement more seriously to new media, and with their already existing capabilities, streaming radio audience measurement is a natural place for Arbitron to head. I’m staying tuned…

Guvera Gets Traction With Advertisers

Guvera, the on-demand service that recently launched here in the US, has gotten some early traction with big national advertisers who like the streaming services idea of building streaming channels of music around a brand.

According to a report last week, advertisers in the US include Victoria’s Secret, Microsoft, Sprint, Mastercard, Geico and H&M, all of whom have dedicated channels. Guvera Founder Claes Loberg explains that listeners are “brand loyal, taking the time to select a brand and interact with the individual channels to download their free music.” They are logging long periods of sponsor engagement double digit click through rates as well.

Guvera hails from Australia, started streaming in the US in March and is still working out licensing deals with some of the record companies. Their song library currently includes EMI Music Group’s labels; EMI, Virgin, Capitol Music, Bluenote, Mute and Domino. The website informs us that they’re hoping to add Universal Music Group, IODA and several independent labels in June and July. They are reporting 75,000 users across Australia and the US, with roughly 40,000 coming from Down Under.  About 3-5,000 are joining weekly.

I like the approach this station is taking. They set out to distinguish their ad model from the beginning, emphasizing that they weren’t selling impressions but were focused on brand engagement by working with brands to create channel sponsorships. Apparently, some big brands think it sounds like a good idea as well.

SoundExchange To Host Webinar For Webcasting Services

There are a lot of signs that Internet radio is a thriving marketplace. Positive indicators include an expanding audience and growing awareness of the medium, revenue growth, and an increase in acquisitions and investment activity. As part of a webinar that SoundExchange is hosting for webcasters next week, they have invited me to present a brief overview of the Internet radio marketplace that will provide more details on these trends.

SoundExchange is inviting new and existing webcasting services to join a webinar next Wednesday June 30th at 1pm edt. Topics covered will include licensing options, an explanation of what services need to submit and why it’s important, and details on what happens to the royalties that webcast services pay.

You can register for SoundExchange’s Webinar for Service Providers here.

Pandora’s iPad Ad Platform A Hit With Some Advertisers

Pandora launched their iPad application the same weekend that Apple began selling the popular devices. After watching their mobile audience and popularity explode via their iPhone app, they didn’t need any convincing that Apple’s app store is a great place to pick up listeners. Pandora has 30 million mobile users and says that 70% of persons who have downloaded a smartphone app have downloaded theirs.

Now they’re highlighting the first ad campaigns on the new devices. Starbucks, Lexus and Budweiser are the first brands on the new Pandora iPad advertising platform with campaigns that “make the most of one or more of the rich video, audio and interactive capabilities of the iPad.”

John Trimble, Chief Revenue Officer of Pandora, said, “Our debut advertisers have gone all out with eye-popping creative that really works in the anything-can-be-done world of the iPad.”

“As the exclusive automotive partner for the Pandora iPad application, we look forward to showcasing our new brand commercial to this audience of early adopters,” states Dave Nordstrom, vice president of marketing for Lexus. The Lexus video spot shows a vehicle revving up to the point that it breaks a champagne glass:

All three brands, Lexus, Starbucks and Budweiser have designed interactive campaigns with video elements that open up a new page but don’t interrupt the music. The iPad offers a richer media experience. They’re hoping to improve on Pandora’s already impressive 3.4% click-through rate.

I’m thinking it was a pretty smart move by these advertisers to take the lead on Pandora’s iPad ad platform. The magic of the device makes people want to pick it up and play with it, so creating ad campaigns that allow them to do just that can only be a good thing for Bud, Lexus and Starbucks…

Happy Birthday To Live365

Live365, one of the world’s largest internet broadcasting networks is celebrating their ten year anniversary. That makes the service one of the oldest and most resilient out there. Live365 is a streaming broadcast network that enables anyone to easily start an Internet radio station. Their list of over 6,000 stations includes tiny webcasters programming to a few friends to stations programmed by famous personalities like Pat Metheny, and Carlos Santana, and includes both commercial and public radio stations.

To celebrate, they’re hosting an online video contest. Listeners and broadcasters can create a video, upload it to YouTube, and fill out the entry form by clicking the homepage banner or going directly to live365.com/video. Deadline for new entries is July 1st, 2010, and finalist videos will be featured on the new Live365.com website to be unveiled this summer.

Live365.com has been streaming continuously since 1999 and is one of the few Internet music companies to survive the dot-com collapse. More than one hundred stations have been with Live365 since the beginning and are also celebrating ten years online.

In the early days of Internet radio, they were a visible and vocal advocate for the industry. “Live365 was the first Internet radio station to launch a substantial Internet radio marketing campaign,” says Kurt Hanson, Publisher of RAIN: The Internet and Radio Newsletter. “Their Radio Revolution campaign was a highly visible campaign that helped kick start and raise awareness for Internet radio.”

Live 365’s a true pioneer company of the Internet radio space whose journey over the past ten years has not been easy. Hat’s off to Live365! I’m delighted that they’re ten years old and wish them enormous success…

Streaming Simulcast Rules Are For The Best

There was an interesting piece in Inside Radio yesterday covering the issues in place that make it difficult for broadcasters to simulcast their entire broadcast – including commercials – online. There are two things that prevent that: an Arbitron simulcast rule and AFTRA obligations for rebroadcasting commercials created by their talent pool online.

The Arbitron rule is pretty simple – unless your stream is a 100% simulcast of your over the air broadcast you cannot merge the two audiences. Broadcasters argue that this creates a disincentive for them to encourage their listeners to listen online. But despite that argument from broadcasters, I have to ask how counting a stream and broadcast as one audience is possible from a researcher’s perspective if the content is not entirely the same? It seems pretty clear to me that it’s not possible from a methodology standpoint. And as far as not encouraging listeners to listen online – people that want to listen online will – they’ll just find a station that is streaming..

AFTRA, the organization that protects actors who make commercials, says that if a commercial is created and contracted only for broadcast and then streamed online as well, there is another license due. The issue here I think is one of additional complexity – broadcasters would prefer that there be one license for broadcasting and streaming the commercial.

One license for audio commercial talent would be ideal, and I believe that’s where it will end up. But the impetus for creating contracts that cover broadcast and streaming has to come from the agencies, who need to make sure they license both types of audio use in their initial talent contracts. Inside Radio quotes Mediavest EVP Maribeth Papuga who says “Many clients are now building in broader talent contracts so that it compensates for online usage. Due to the inclusion of more digital in the media mix, many advertisers have expanded their talent agreements across channels so that they are able to take advantage of streaming or online elements.”

The AFTRA talent issue only arises when commercials have initially only been licensed only for on-air and then need to have a license for online use added to them. This all came about back in the late 90s when some broadcasters first began to stream their programming in its entirety online, and AFTRA issued a proclamation declaring that additional licenses were necessary for streaming use of commercials. Broadcasters responded by pulling their streams, and the need for ad-insertion was born. Read more on the specifics of this issue here and here.

Ok, so here’s my take on all of this. First of all I don’t really understand why it’s so difficult for broadcasters to take an online number and a broadcast number, add them together, and sell that audience to the advertiser. It’s kind of like the AM/FM combo sales concept, isn’t it? Why does Arbitron have to compromise their methodology by saying it’s all one audience if it’s not? (Because really, if there’s anything different at all, it’s not all one audience hearing all the same stuff at the same time…)

Second, many commercials created for broadcast use will not produce best results online. Online commercials should have an interactive call to action because the listener is online. Click here for more info, go to our website, send us an email. Creative should, for the most part, be different for the two uses: broadcast and streaming.

Third. Advertising has become more and more trackable, definable and targetable. Advertisers pay agencies lots of money to track the results of every single media channel they use. They’re not going to blindly invest large amounts of money in an audio channel that merges broadcast and online audiences.

It may be easier for broadcasters if they could merge all of their audiences and treat them as one, but it’s a short sighted position that focuses only on what is best for broadcasters. In the long term, the ability to offer advertisers specific channels that target certain listeners and behaviors will enable broadcasters to compete with new media platforms. Trying to adapt the new media world to suit their needs is backwards. Broadcasters should embrace their multi-channel platforms with multiple strategies to monetize them that consider the strengths of each one. Focus on what’s best for the advertisers…

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