Monthly Archives: November, 2010

Santa’s Shopping List

Pile of gorgeous gifts

Image via Wikipedia

If you’re trying to think of a creative gift for someone this Christmas, streaming devices could be the way to go. Everyone’s buzzing about Pandora, and I find that when the topic comes up most people are interested in hearing about other ways to listen as well. Here’s a rundown of some options that are getting nice reviews.

Livio Radio. These radios are essentially plug and play Internet radio devices. You turn them on, they find the Internet and in a few minutes you’re streaming your favorite station. Pick a model that’s branded for Pandora or NPR, or one that isn’t (either way you can tune in thousands of stations). CNET and others give it high marks.

Chumby. This cute cube is really an Internet radio and more – it’s actually a tabletop internet ready device, designed to be a digital photo frame and alarm clock that also allows you to listen online, check news and weather, watch videos, play games. Sony liked it so much they licensed its dashboard for their own Sony Dash.

Motorola T505. How about a bluetooth device that enables streaming from your iPhone to your fm car radio? There are several, my husband uses this one and cancelled his Sirius XM subscription over a year ago with no regrets. Now he streams Pandora and other stations to his car stereo with this device. It clips to your visor, tells you where to tune in, and is very easy to use.

Apple TV. In case you haven’t read about Apple’s new AirPlay technology, it’s all about sending streams from handheld devices to home stereo equipment and it’s getting a lot of praise. The Apple TV costs just 99 bucks and it’s getting great reviews for easily connecting your iPhone, iTouch, iPad to your television or home stereo.

Give streaming music to everyone this year – it’s a hot gift that will make them happy and grow the user base at the same time…

In the interest of full disclosure I’d like to point out that I work with Livio Radio as a consultant. And I listen to one too!

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Record Label Financials – A New Spin

A CD Video Disc (playing side) produced in 1987.

Image via Wikipedia

The recording industry, led by the four major record labels, would have us all believe that times are bad. Revenue is down, song and album sales are slipping. This spin justifies performance royalties for online services, and is a major argument for radio broadcasters to pay up as well.

An article that I read on Tunecore points out that this is not so.

Based on historical RIAA shipment data, things are not nearly so bad – as long as you look at the whole picture. The digital music market reached $3.1 billion in 2009, a 19% leap over 2008 sales figures. That number represents the songs and albums sold as downloads. Physical shipments of music dropped 21%  to $7.7 billion – mainly the loss was lower CD sales. Ringtone and mobile sales were $729 million which was a decline of 25%.

Overall shipments of recorded music (including digital downloads) were still down 12%, the RIAA points out.

What they don’t point out so succinctly is that digital performance rights are not factored into that statement, and they are soaring – up 55.5% from 2008 to 2009. After climbing 74% the previous year and 49% the year before that. Digital performance royalties added another $155.5 million for 2009, and at the current growth rate of say 50% a year, in five years that number is over a billion a year. And that doesn’t count subscription royalties which are currently at $200 million or so a year.

All of this assumes that the online streaming audience will grow. Of course that’s a safe assumption, in fact, it’s probably safe to assume that listening online is in its infancy…

Study: Independent Broadcasters Lag Behind With New Technologies

When it comes to introducing new technological features that could increase revenue as part of their media offerings, broadcast groups that own more than one station are  moving much more quickly than stand-alone stations. Group owned stations are better able to finance the deployment of new features – in fact at about twice the rate of independently owned stations.

That’s bound to impact the rate at which the two groups – group owned and independent stations – will be able to grow revenue. Group owned stations are much more likely to have video on their website, mobile listening apps, multiple channel streaming and even broadcasting in HD, according to a new “Progress Report” on Revenue Generating Radio Technologies sponsored by Wheatstone Engineering.

Study by Alethea Research

The study surveyed technical radio professionals – radio engineers, operations managers, etc. and attempted to gauge how fast new technologies are being adopted by radio professionals. The survey was sent to the email list of two industry publications that are likely to be read by tech folks. While the results are interesting, I weighed in earlier and pointed out to Josh Gordon of Alethea Research that it looked like he was hearing from more of the technologically savvy folks.  For example, this study finds that between 20% (AM) and 37% (FM) of stations are broadcasting in HD, but according to Arbitron’s Radio Today report just 4% (AM) and 10% (FM) of stations are.

When respondents were asked to pick the one new technology that they thought would make  money for their station before all others they chose streaming their signal over the Internet over a list of others.

Study by Alethea Research

It’s an interesting assessment of broadcasters’ attitudes toward new media. There’s obviously an opportunity for vendors who can figure out a way to make it affordable for independent stations to implement some of these new technologies..

Ando’s Latest Ranker Has a Few Holes

It’s been a while since AndoMedia released a monthly Webcast Metrics ranker, so I had been wondering what was up. Apparently, there were problems in the land of Ando last month and the result is a ranker for August that is missing some information:

Due to an error in Log Processing we are unable to provide accurate statistics on certain metrics for certain clients. These fields are marked Not Available (N/A). We apologize for the inconvenience.

Hmmm. I guess that’s why the press release came out after 4:30 on a friday afternoon…

Clear Channel’s iheartradio Hits The Road

Toyota will integrate Clear Channel’s iheartradio mobile app into select models starting next year. This is the first key partnership that Clear Channel – or any radio broadcast company – has won to put their online platform into new cars.

Earlier this year Ford announced that they would integrate Pandora into cars. Pandora has been persistently successful in developing partnerships that extend the reach of their brand beyond the pc. Cars are the next big frontier for Internet radio stations in terms of extending their reach.

iheartradio will allow Toyota customers to access more than 750 of America’s favorite local radio stations, as well as unique celebrity-hosted channels from Christina Aguilera, Eagles, and Weezer, local traffic reports and more.

It’s a nice win for Clear Channel, but I think it’s also a win for Internet radio overall. Sure, Clear Channel’s developers will work hard to integrate this platform with Toyota and vice versa, but inevitably consumers are going to want to listen to whatever they want in their car, and not be held up by technology or devices dedicated to a certain platform. I think companies like Clear Channel and Pandora understand this, and are driven not by the idea of exclusive audience opportunities. They’re taking leadership positions in making sure Internet radio gets into cars because they understand that it’s important for the industry that they’re heavily invested in. A good thing for them, and everyone else as well.

For Women Only: Live365 Launches New Internet Radio Site

Live365 has launched a new Internet radio service and website for women. Athena365 features a wide variety of female-friendly music including popular AC, Top40, and Pop/Rock Hits; New Age, Classical, and Jazz stations; and talk shows covering a variety of topics.

“The Athena365 Beta site brings together the best of Live365 stations, plus new targeted content packaged to address the needs and preferences of a very specific audience — digital moms,” says Heidi Elgaard, Marketing Director for Live365 and Athena365. “By narrowing our audience focus with this initiative, we have a unique opportunity to provide a richer and more personal online radio experience.”

Featured stations on the website’s homepage include Jill92.7, an AC station based in Los Angeles, B98 Country out of Missouri, and Harpo Radio, a talk radio platform owned by Oprah.

“Live365 has always  catered to niche audiences, and Athena365 is an extension of that strategy.” says Elgaard. It’s a move that is bound to benefit ad revenues as well – Elgaard says Targetspot, who sells inventory on Live365, will sell the inventory on Athena365 as well. She says they’ll continue to work with banner networks also, along with plans to increase direct sales efforts for both Live365 and Athena365. The website also offers a premium subscription with fewer ads for $3.95 a month.

It’s a great idea to build out a branded Internet radio platform targeting women, and one that is perfectly suited to Live365. They’re already a site that aggregates stations, grouping them by demographics and rebranding them should benefit both audience and make it easier to attract ad dollars.

Americans Are Streaming As Much As Downloading Music

Life up Close: Impala Music Note

Image by 5150photo via Flickr

Americans are now streaming as much music as they are downloading, according to NPD Group. According to an article in Evolver.fm and reported by RAIN the other day, 29 percent of Americans streamed music in August and 29-30% downloaded music online.

That’s what’s called a tipping point – one that we’ve reached by witnessing the rapid growth of streaming music and the decline of downloading the same. Streaming music is about to become the dominant computer music listening behavior, according to Evolver, probably in a few months. And that doesn’t factor in the online listening/streaming that is occurring on mobile devices and televisions.

So what’s driving this rapid acceleration of streaming and deceleration of downloading? Well, Pandora‘s wild popularity is, for one. The service’s easy to use and easy to like format has introduced millions of listeners to streaming radio – at last count they claimed 60 million registered users.

Another factor driving the strong uptrend in streaming music is the variety of available services. On demand services like Rhapsody and MOG allow listeners to select any song in their library, build playlists and even store and transfer playlists to playback devices, while others like Pandora offer streams that use predictive playlist technology to personalize each listening experience based on preferences. Cloud services like MP3Tunes enable listeners to store their personal music collection on a server and stream it from whatever device they prefer. Add all of that to an enormous selection of AM/FM and online stations offering a more traditionally programmed selection of music with far fewer commercials and you have a pretty enticing list of streaming music options.

RadioTime Tunes In to Google TV

In a savvy and innovative move, RadioTime has optimized their Internet radio portal called TuneIn for Google TV. This news comes as the most recent in a list of placements and partnerships that position RadioTime as a key portal to Internet radio listening. That list includes deals with device and automotive manufacturers as well as apps for smartphone mobile listening.

TuneIn Radio features RadioTime’s new Song Search technology, which allows users to quickly and easily search the directory of over 50,000 AM/FM and Internet-only radio stations for specific songs, artists, programs and stations. The TuneIn Radio home page automatically displays a user’s local AM/FM stations, and provides links to search the entire directory by selections such as “Music,” “Talk,” and “Sports,” as well as an enormous library of podcasts.

Users who create a free account on RadioTime.com can link their presets to their Google TV accounts, and save and access presets on Google TV, RadioTime.com and the TuneIn Radio mobile apps.

“Before the Internet, before television, there was radio, and the medium has remained a primary source of news, sports and music for 100 years,” said Bill Moore, CEO, RadioTime. “Seeing TuneIn Radio in Google TV Spotlight next to websites from such well-known content providers as CNN and Vimeo is extremely gratifying and validates all the hard work our team has put in to bringing the TuneIn Radio experience to Google TV.”

RadioTime continues to come up with excellent manuvers to build traffic through their portal that make them more and more essential to both listeners and content providers. It seems to be working – particularly in the US where their traffic rank on Alexa has them at 1569. May they thrive…

Triton Announces Targeted Audio Capabilities

Triton Digital has added geo-targeting capabilities to its ad insertion product. Targeted Ad Injector, which is compatible with the Triton Ad Injector service, enables advertisers to target their ads to Designated Market Areas (DMAs). Triton’s Ad Injector platform offers ad insertion, sales, trafficking and scheduling, forecasting and reporting tools for streaming broadcasters.

“Our advertising staff was able to generate significantly better returns from our ad rate per CPM as a direct result of our new ability to deliver location-relevant messaging,” said Amit Khanna, CEO, Aeibo LLC (Hindi Radio Mera Sangeet).   “Mera Sangeet’s target listeners are a highly sought-after audience that happens to be widely dispersed across multiple DMAs.  By leveraging Triton’s server side Targeted Ad Injector we are able to offer our clients the reach they desire with geographically targeted ads across all players and clients, including iPhone, Android phones, Google/Apple TV and smart devices.”

This is a significant development for streaming stations using the Triton Digital Ad Injector platform because it introduces real time ad insertion that delivers audio ads per user and enables targeting to unique users. Stations should be able to leverage this enhanced targetability into higher cpms and greater advertiser investments.

How Slacker Gets Smartphone Users to Buy Subscriptions

Image representing Slacker as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Slacker has found a pretty nice formula for growing its subscription model via relationships with the cell phone carriers. Various US based carriers are selling smartphones with Slacker’s app preloaded on the devices which makes it easier for Slacker to get people to sample their service. What’s more significant is that Slacker’s also managing to convert those taste testers to actual paying customers, thanks to deals with the US carriers that allows them to direct-bill for Slacker’s subscription.

Slacker’s Jonathon Sasse recently told DMW that they’ve seen some nice growth in subscriptions in the past six months thanks to these direct bill deals with mobile carriers. Subscriber numbers are still low – about 250,000 people are paying a monthly fee for Slacker’s premium service, which pales in comparison to their overall listener number of 20 million (this must be a registered listener number). Sasse says half of that number is mobile listening.

Crunching that data next to some that we already know: Slacker showed up on its first AndoMedia ranker last month with 13,321 average active sessions, which did not include mobile listening. If mobile listening doubles that number they’ll be at 27 – 30,000 average active sessions per month. By comparison, Pandora, who last released a registered user number in July when they announced that they had 60 million, has about 366,000 average active sessions during the week. Which kind of leaves me scratching my head at Slacker’s 20 million number…

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