Monthly Archives: July, 2010

YouTube Flexes Its Music Muscle

Music recommendation services are hot – just take a look at Pandora’s exponential growth as evidence of that. Now YouTube has launched a revamped music page that showcases the most viewed music videos and managed playlists, and gives people the ability to create on-the-fly mixes.

A new Musicians Wanted feature also gives unsigned artists a channel for getting exposure for their music, and listeners to discover them.

The revamped YouTube music also lets listeners/viewers pick a genre and go – building an instant playlist for them. Presumably, YouTube will be mixing in songs by new musicians, popular artists, up and coming acts, all based on the enormous amount of listening data they have.

YouTube already has lots of traffic as a music discovery site – people know they can turn to YouTube to hear (and see) just about any song and/or artist.

YouTube’s vast offerings of music put it in the music game both as a source for on-demand listening as well as a jukebox. This update is a plan to make it easier for people to access those offerings and create a personalized listening experience. With video for those who want it…

UK Listeners Spend Less Time with Online Audio Than US Listeners

A new release of information on digital audio listening from RAJAR, the official source for radio audience measurement in the UK, shows that Brits are not as active as consumers in the US when it comes to listening to online radio and podcasts.

According to the new data, 31% of UK adults have ever listened to online radio, in sharp contrast to the 52% of the 12+ population here in the US that have listened. Granted, the US study (Arbitron’s Infinite Dial 2010) counts the 12-17 population and the RAJAR study does not, but that cell accounts for only 10% of the total weekly listening so does not make up the difference.

Listening to online radio in the UK can include live streaming as well as “Time Shifted” listening where listeners can use “Listen Again” services to record some radio programming and listen to it at a different time. This behavior is prohibited, or at least discouraged by copyright law in the US.

Brits also listen less to podcasts than Americans – according to the new MIDAS6, 23% of adults have ever listened to podcasts whereas The Infinite Dial Study of US listening behaviors says 23% have ever listened. Again, I don’t think the 12-17 age group that’s taken into consideration by the US study and not by the UK one is making the difference.

I’m wondering of course why this is, but I’m not offering any solid reasons at this point I’m just watching and thinking about it. I suspect that UK radio blogger James Cridland might have a few as well…

Pandora: We have 60 Million Users

Yesterday Pandora announced that they have hit another benchmark with 60 million registered users. Wow! Last December they announced that they had hit 40 million and then in April they hit 50 million. Now, not even 3 months later they’ve added another 10 million.

Pandora’s ubiquity is no doubt responsible for their amazing growth. Their iPhone app is enormously popular, and they’re also on Android, Blackberry, and other mobile devices. They launched an iPad app almost as soon as that device hit the market. They have a deal with Facebook that has given them enormous exposure and reach to a new group of potential listeners. They’re on Roku, which puts Internet radio on your television, lots of wifi enabled tabletop devices, and will soon be in new cars as well.

So no, they’re not done. Not nearly.

This is all great news for Internet radio. Pandora is the darling of Internet radio and the service that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. These days, lots of people are learning about online radio by listening to Pandora. But there’s plenty of room in the pool for more stations and services who are interested in building an audience by giving listeners more of what they want to hear.

Congratulations Pandora, well done indeed!

UK Companies Pair Up To Give Listeners What They Want

An occasional complaint about online music services is the lack of live news and information. Two British radio companies, one a broadcasting stalwart and the other an online startup, have joined forces to offer a digital, on-demand entertainment service combined with real-time, integrated breaking news.

GMG Radio will deliver regular audio bulletins to the music streaming website We7. The audio news content will be produced by GMG’s Real Radio news service.

GMG Radio’s Chief Executive Stuart Taylor said: “Our news teams are recognised across the industry for making great content. Working with We7 means that we can continue to grow that reputation and deliver it on other important platforms. A collaborative approach is mutually beneficial and, in the growing digital ecology, we need to be trying new things.”

we7 is a UK based Music On-Demand music streaming service and integrated download store founded in 2007 by, among others, Peter Gabriel (the musician). GMG Radio is owned by Guardian Music Group, the third largest radio group in the United Kingdom.

I love the idea of this partnership. Take one top broadcaster with an excellent reputation and ability to deliver news content and combine that with an on-demand service that gives listeners more choice, interactivity and options. Seems like a recipe for growing an audience…

MP3tunes Sets Your Music Free

Michael Robertson thinks people should be able to listen to their digital music anywhere on any device. That’s exactly what MP3tunes sets out to do.

Robertson, the founder of MP3tunes, is a huge advocate of cloud based music services. He’s no stranger to the vengeance that record labels have when it comes to protecting digital song copyright law (as they define it.) In fact, he’s actually taken it on the chin before against the record companies – in the late 90’s he founded, which he eventually sold to CNET after losing an expensive legal battle with Universal. His new service MP3tunes is currently involved in a lawsuit with EMI over copyright infringement issues.

“I think ownership is critical important in the digital age and worth fighting for.” said Robertson. “I think consumers should be able to choose where they want to use their digital property as they can with their physical property. I don’t want a corporation to be able revoke or limit access – as we’ve seen happening with Apple and Amazon.”

MP3tunes currently has over 500,000 registered users who upload their entire music collection to servers and access it from wherever they want. MP3tunes works on multiple smartphones platforms: Android, iPhone/iTouch, (iPad version waiting for approval) and many Internet radio devices (it’s compatible with devices that use vTuner and Reciva firmware.) This week they’ll introduce a deal with Roku that will enable access to music lockers on televisions.

Currently, the business model is a freemium model that offers listeners smaller sized lockers for free and charge a subscription fee for more storage space. But additional revenue sources like e-commerce and advertising may be in the cards as well.

Nielsen: Digital Album Sales Are Up

Digital song sales for the first half of the year were off very slightly (.2%) from the same period last year, indicating that the price increase from 99 cents to $1.29 on iTunes did have some negative impact on the number of tracks sold.

Meanwhile, full album sales were down as well – 11% to 154 million from 172.9 million units in the corresponding period last year. But digital album sales actually rose nearly 13% during the same period, offset by the continued decline of physical cd album sales which were down 18%. Last year album sales dropped 8.5% but digital album sales rose by 16%.

Lady Antebellum had the best selling album for the first half of the year.

So what does all of this mean? It appears that the negative impact from the 30% price increase on iTunes was minimal. It also looks like record labels and artists may have found a formula for increasing album sales – some combination of pricing, marketing and artistry that is convincing more and more people to purchase albums rather than single songs.

Digital music now accounts for 40% of all music sales in the US, and digital albums make up 27.4% of all album sales.

Enter The RAIN Internet Radio Awards Contest

RAIN – the Internet radio industry’s trade publication – recently announced the creation of RAIN Internet Radio Awards “to recognize the achievements of Internet radio’s most ambitious and innovative services.” Every Internet radio station and service is invited to enter the competition, and I strongly encourage you to do just that.

Industry awards are important. Recognizing excellence is a great way to bring an industry together, spur competition and get people talking.

Any Internet radio station or service, large or small, broadcaster or pureplay, can enter the competition by filling out a very simple form and paying $19. Awards in 3 categories will be announced on September 28th at RAIN Summit East in Washington DC during RAB/NAB Radio Show Week. (details on that coming shortly)

Support the creation of these awards and help recognize excellence in our industry by entering the RAIN Internet Radio Awards. Then tweet about it, write about it, and get everyone talking about who should win. Nothing could be better for the industry…

How Pandora Creates Value for Audience, Artists and Advertisers

Pandora is certainly one of the most listened to Internet radio services in the US and possibly beyond. Their interactive service enables listeners to build channels around their preferences, share music and listen on many mobile devices. With millions of registered listeners, they have a  lot of data about those listeners – age, gender and location, as well as what types of music and artists they prefer.

The data Pandora has on listening preferences is of course valuable stuff to advertisers, and Pandora has been doing a pretty good job of selling unique music sponsorships to key advertisers. Last year Pandora worked with The Dave Matthews Band to debut his new album “Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King”. They streamed the album for a week before it actually was released, built a special landing page for the debut, and sent a message to every registered Pandora user who had either signed up for a Dave Matthews channel, or had given a DM song the Pandora “thumbs up”.

According to Reuters, the promotion resulted in more than half a million streams, with 8,000 linking through to buy the album on iTunes. Pandora gets the revenue share from all those downloads. They sold the sponsorship to Brita for an undisclosed amount.

Later in the year Pandora offered John Mayer fans a couple of video interviews, along with a customized playlist of his favorite songs. AT&T bought a sponsorship of the promotion which netted 81 million impressions. Since then, Pandora has launched or pitched a bunch of other similar offerings from prelaunch listening opps, to video interviews and/or artists’ custom music lists – for big name artists like Jack Johnson, Jewel, Miley Cyrus, Switchfoot, Miranda Lambert, the Walkmen, Mason Jennings and Rogue Wave.

Relevant, rare offerings for listeners; valuable, targeted marketing opportunities for artists. Sounds like a great strategy for engaging advertisers and building revenue…

Lots of Talk About Digital Music Clouds

flickr: MiiiSH

Digital music buzz is all about cloud based streaming services these days. Apple bought Lala and Microsoft launched a new “entertainment vertical” for Bing that ties in full song streaming from Zune. Two weeks ago HP acquired Melodeo. And Google is supposedly readying a mobile music platform that will launch with Android 3 and include anywhere access, paid downloads and subscription aspects. The big tech companies seem to be scrambling to gain position in the cloud based streaming music space.

Meanwhile Forrester has released a report that finds that cloud based streaming on mobile devices is still more buzz than reality. The new study “360 Music Experiences: Use the Cloud to Target Device Use Orbits” focuses on the impact that cloud based services have on the devices consumers choose to listen on. 41.6% of Adults 18+ are still tied to their pc as their primary source of digital music. MP3 players ranked second at 32.5%, music-enabled phones at 12.1% and home streaming devices at 11.1%. Mobile access to music services through smartphone apps, while certainly an area of great activity, has yet to have a substantial impact.

Keep in mind that these findings are based on 3Q 2009 data, and many (but not all) cloud based services are either still in the works or have launched since then. But the report expects listeners to stick with a device of choice for cloud based streaming even with the option to listen anywhere on any connected device.

In addition to the question of what device listeners choose to listen with, there’s the issue of how the space will monetize. MOG, Rhapsody, Rdio, and others are betting on a subscription model that enables listeners to pay a monthly fee for on demand streaming. MSpot and MP3tunes offer storage space or “music lockers” for your personal music collection – free for small amounts of storage, monthly fees for larger amounts. Google will likely pursue an ad based strategy in keeping with its other platforms, while Apple may create a hybrid that expands on its iTunes (pay for downloads) brand, and incorporates its new mobile ad platform iAds.

Webcast Metrics Reports May Data

AndoMedia has released May Webcast Metrics audience data for the stations and networks that it measures.

In their press release, AndoMedia states that most stations saw 1 to 2% declines in listening for the month from April stats. Actually, Clear Channel and CBSRADIO saw much greater declines than that – over 10% of their domestic numbers. This *could* be explained in part by the fact that – as my friend Kurt Hanson figured out – most streams have higher listening on weekdays than weekends or holidays. April was 73% weekdays; May was only 65% weekdays. This, says Hanson, accounts for 5% of the drop. The rest, he continues, could be an indicator that “listening to simulcasts of terrestrial stations online does not seem to be growing in 2010.”

Other broadcast groups that saw May drops in audience include Cox (6%) and ESPNRadio (9%). Meanwhile, online multi-channel stations and 977music grew slightly for the month.

Pandora continues to grow its audience: its domestic-only AAS grew very slightly, but the service gained almost 14.5 million session starts. This may indicate that a lot of folks are visiting but not necessarily staying with Pandora for very long, which wouldn’t  be too surprising based on the enormous buzz and sampling that they are getting via iPhone apps and such.

The press release and ranker are here..

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