Monthly Archives: September, 2010

Streaming Broadcasters Need a Wake Up Call

New data released by AndoMedia this week showed that listening to Internet radio Pureplay stations, or online only stations now represents more than 60% of US based listening among the groups that they measure. Dave Van Dyke of Bridge Ratings sent me two graphs that show the movement of listening to pureplay stations versus broadcast streams.

I think this trend is significant and should be taken as a demonstration of the need for broadcasters to modify their online strategy and move away from simply simulcasting their on-air product. Here are the visuals..

Streaming Radio Pioneer Sold

StreamAudio, one of the early companies into providing streaming and ad insertion solutions to radio broadcasters, has been sold to Optic Fusion, a Seattle based company specializing in business connectivity services.

StreamAudio began in 1999 and was sold to Chaincast in 2001. Since then, they have obtained several rounds of funding totaling $19 million. The company had ties to Singapore based Creative Labs, a manufacturer of pc sound cards and other audio tech hardware.

In its heyday, StreamAudio counted Cox, Susquehanna and other early streaming broadcasters among its clients. More recently, the company lost ground to newer streaming and ad insertion companies who offered more robust and versatile solutions. Their client list has dwindled to, according to the announcement, 200 stations.

“StreamAudio was a very early player in streaming,” says Dan Halyburton, an Internet radio pioneer himself. Halyburton, then SVP/GM at Susquehanna, put his stations online in the late 90s. “We were streaming with Broadcast.com when Yahoo bought them, bought Launchcast and exited the space leaving Susquehanna Radio looking for bandwidth. Prices were high – over 1 dollar a gigabyte transferred. StreamAudio was a quality service with ad replacement and they beat everyones’ price. Paul Distefano ran the company and was a great guy to do business with.”
I worked with StreamAudio’s President Darren Harle a lot while at Net Radio Sales and always thought he was one of the best guys in the business. I hope this turn will provide him with resources to bring the company back to the prominence in the industry it once had.

July Data On Internet Radio Listening

Highlighting the fact that listening to Internet radio Pureplay stations, or online only stations now represents more than 60% of domestic listening on its ranker, AndoMedia releases July data for the stations that it measures. Given that 14 of the top twenty on that ranker are broadcast companies that aggregate their station streams, and only 6 are Pureplay stations, this is a strong indication of the dominant share that online only stations have in the US streaming marketplace.

Online station Slacker debuts on the ranker, minus its mobile streaming data, at number 7 on the total week US ranker (below). That means it edges out independent online station Digitally Imported as the next highest ranked online station after Pandora. It’s important to note that Slacker was initially a mobile streaming station – they used to sell their own dedicated hardware for streaming before iPhone and other smartphones took over those capabilities. Their mobile number should be significant.

Pandora is now showing more than 3.5 times the average active sessions as the next listed station, which is CBSRadio’s network of stations, including all of their broadcast streams and AOL and Yahoo‘s online radio platforms, but does not include Last.fm. Pandora’s dominance is huge with over 250 million session starts during the month. It’s interesting to note that Slacker’s time spent listening number is double that of Pandora.

Harman’s Aha Moment

Image representing Aha Mobile as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Joining the list of manufacturers moving into mobile streaming, Harman International purchased Aha Mobile. Aha Mobile is a technology platform that provides on-demand, interactive, personalized radio to mobile users. It uses location based and text to speech features to personalize and stream audio content. It enables a user to update or listen to a facebook or Twitter feed, receive or share traffic reports, find out what’s nearby for lunch, and listen to podcasts.

“Streaming, on-demand Web content technology is a natural complement to HARMAN’s premium infotainment systems, and we look forward to expanding the reach of this innovative platform,” said Dinesh C. Paliwal, HARMAN Chairman, President and CEO. “We will deploy this new technology to strengthen our global leadership as the provider of choice for rich, interactive infotainment on the road, around the home, or on the go.”

Mobile connectivity has become a key feature for auto industry leaders Ford with Sync, and GM with OnStar. GM just announced a new extension of its OnStar connected platform called MyLink which will feature wifi connectivity, streaming audio featuring Pandora, and other voice activated online options.

Aha Mobile had recently signed a deal with Internet radio Ad Network TargetSpot to sell location based audio ads on their mobile streams.

Mobile Music Listening is Increasing

234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices during the 3 month average period ending in July, 2010 and close to 34 million (14.5%) of them listened to music on them.

According to comScore, the number of mobile devices that are smartphones is increasing, up 11% from April to July 2010. More than 53 million now use smartphones. That’s driving increases in listening to music, as well as texting, browsing, playing games, and social networking on mobile devices.

eMarketer’s number is lower – 21.7 million listen to mobile music now and that number will grow to more than 52 million by 2014.

“The mobile music market is in the midst of a major transition,” said Noah Elkin, senior analyst at eMarketer. “As the traditional revenue staples — ringtones and ringback tones — cede in relevance, streaming services have moved to take their place.”

eMarketer pegs the ad supported mobile music market at $44+ million this year and growing to $175+ million by 2014.

Bridge Ratings: Broadcast Stations Are Losing Share Online

Bridge Ratings has released some new research that uses AndoMedia’s Webcast Metrics data to show patterns in Internet radio listening behavior. Here are some highlights:

  • Listening to Internet radio is up 23%. That’s based on the number of average active sessions that AndoMedia sees in its top 20 ranker, from November 2009 to June 2010.
  • Broadcast stations’ streams as a share of overall listening to Internet radio are shrinking. In November, streaming broadcast stations owned 65% of listening to the top 20, in June, that number was down to 51%, barely beating Internet only stations’ share which was 49%. Pandora‘s share grew 67% from November 2009 to June 2010.

This trend is a reversal of listening behavior, according to Bridge Ratings, who released a study earlier this year indicating that online listeners preferred broadcast streams. Now, according to Bridge, a change in behavior is underway. Listeners prefer interactive options with their online listening, and are more satisfied with online stations.

Bridge now predicts, based on its proprietary predictive analysis (not on actual field data) that if “terrestrially delivered content opportunities don’t change AM/FM simulcast primaries (those who spend more of their on-line time listening to terrestrial simulcast content) will shrink to 50% by 2014.”

This is not new, but very true information that shoots another warning across the bow for broadcasters who have been thinking that there is any value at all to simply simulcasting their content online. Efforts to change the AFTRA issue to make it easier to simulcast are a waste of time. Arguments that they can then get credit from Arbitron for simulcasting are short sighted. Listeners will listen online, and if they don’t like what their station is streaming, they’ll choose something else.

This is a must read study…

Super Tuesday for Music Fans

Today is one of the busiest release dates for new music, and to celebrate, NPR Music is giving listeners a preview of 14 new albums including Robert Plant, Mavis Staples, SuperChunk, and other great stuff.

NPR Music regularly debuts new music on their First Listen page, and right now it’s – according to them – a veritable First Listen Extravaganza. But hurry if you want to sample – today is the last day it will be available.

It’s just so impressive that NPR, long known for great news and commentary, has built this solid reputation for its digital music platform and is snagging so many great artists to debut their albums.

By the way, NPR Music also has a new iPhone and iPod Touch app that gives you mobile access to First Listens, live music streams from NPR stations, a searchable artist directory including interviews, reviews, live performances, and more. There’s also a customizable playlist and backgrounding, so you can listen while you’re doing other stuff on your device.

Is Bubba Headed to Internet Radio?

Bubba the Love Sponge has apparently been talking on his radio show about going to Radioio, a well established Internet radio platform that has been around for quite a while. That’s according to Motley Fool, an online investment magazine that spends a lot of time focused on Sirius XM who describes Radioio as “a wholly owned subsidiary of IOWorld. They have over 1 million listeners and a pretty good platform and service.”

Bubba is currently under contract with Sirius XM and is broadcast on the Howard channels at Sirius XM. He is also heard on some Cox and Beasley stations in Florida. It looks like his contract, like Stern’s is up at the end of the year. The Motley Fool article is also suggesting that Howard himself could end up at Radioio.

Radioio is a great multi channel Internet radio station that was started by Mike Roe in 2000. Roe is a smart entrepreneur who is passionate about music and his online platform. A few years ago Radioio was acquired by a public company and Roe now consults. Over the years Radioio has grown in terms of channels and listeners.

When asked about the rumors, Roe said “All I’m going to say is this: Any one who knows anything at all about broadcasting knows that the internet is the future of radio. Period. So, what are the odds that a Stern or a Bubba doesn’t know that? It isn’t really a question of whether or not these personalities will (eventually) come to internet radio, but when. We certainly hope its sooner than later. Don’t you?”

Nothing would please me more than to see an early Internet radio passionista like Roe and his startup Radioio land a big fish like Bubba or Howard Stern. May they thrive…

Amazon Jumps Into Streaming

The pool

Image via Wikipedia

There’s definitely a trend among online behemoths (like Google, Apple) to purchase hip streaming music platforms (like Simplify, Lala) as tools for an upcoming entree into the streaming music marketplace.

Now Amazon buys Amie Street, an online music store that focused on independent musicians and worked on a unique pricing model based on demand for a certain song and artist.

Amazon will be shutting down the service and reportedly focusing on Songza, a recommendation based streaming service purchased by Amie Street in 2008. Customers who have credit at Amie Street can use it before September 22.

The company was started by several students at Brown University in 2006. Amazon invested in them in 2007. They’ve been kind of struggling since then, trying to be innovative, and work with the big labels, and hold true to independents, and make some money.

So now Amazon joins in the race to launch the perfect streaming music platform. There’s plenty of room in the pool..

JL NOTES: There are some reporting that Amie Street founders will remain independent and working on Songza and that Amazon takes over only Amie Street the download platform.

Sony Will Stream Music Unlimited

Sony has announced that they will launch an online cloud based music service called Music Unlimited before the end of the year. The service will stream music to Sony’s TVs, Blu-ray players, and connected mobile devices, which will also be able to cache and store songs for offline listening as well.

Sony released the news on the same day that Apple announced its iTV and new version of iTunes, indicating their intention to compete head-on with the leader in the online music marketplace.

Cloud based music services that store music online and stream it on demand are the next coming for the digital music industry. Google is reportedly planning to release its own version before the end of the year, Apple purchased Lala with a similar intent, and several other services are already available.

Sony’s version, Music Unlimited, will include common playlist building features along with Sony’s SenseMe technology which can detect personal music preferences and suggest music based on those criteria. Music Unlimited is based on the Qriocity platform, Sony’s cloud based streaming delivery platform.

%d bloggers like this: