Monthly Archives: March, 2011

Internet Radio’s Biggest Event

RAIN Summit West 2011, the largest gathering of Internet radio people and information, will take place on Monday April 11th at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas. This will be the 9th annual event, each year it gets bigger and better, growing in scope and size along with the marketplace. (As a disclaimer I’ll tell you that I’m very involved in organizing it.)

One of the scheduled panels will be a discussion of the future of music, featuring some really smart entrepreneurs in the streaming music space. Michael Robertson, Founder of MP3Tunes is one of streaming music’s true pioneers, having founded and sold it to Universal/Vivendi will be on that panel. He will be joined by David Hyman, Founder of on-demand subscription streaming service MOG. Hyman’s past lives include CEO of Gracenote. Eric Johnson is the COO of Wolfgang’s Vault, one of my favorite online streaming places. Ari Shohat‘s Digitally Imported is one of the most listened to online stations, and he’s a sharp entrepreneur as well. The panel will be moderated by TAG Strategic’s Ted Cohen,  a past record company executive and well known digital music consultant.

Need more reasons to attend? You can review the full agenda here. To save 20% on standard registration, go here and use the code AUDIO4CAST20. If you’re a broadcaster or webcaster, you don’t even need to use that discount, there’s a special rate of $79 for you. Including lunch and cocktails!

RAIN Summit West is a really great opportunity to meet people, get information and expand your expertise. See you there!

Amazon Launches Music in the Cloud

Amazon has launched a cloud based music service that allows users to store their own music in music lockers and then listen to it on computers and other streaming devices. It’s been rumored that both Google and Apple are readying similar services, so this move by Amazon puts them ahead of the pack. They’re hardly the first – services like MP3Tunes have been offering a similar service for over a year.

But moving early gave them the nifty name – they’re calling it Amazon Cloud, making it difficult for Apple or Google to use the word Cloud in their branding. I’m sure part of their thinking in launching early is to capture the word Cloud and associate it with their product.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this new service is the legal stand that Amazon took in launching it. While rumors of Apple and Google’s cloud based music streaming platforms have been brewing, supposedly delayed by tedious negotiations with the record labels, Amazon just went ahead and did it, taking the position that the music loaded in the lockers is owned by the user and no further licensing is needed.

Michael Robertson, Founder of MP3Tunes, has been in a legal battle over such issues with the record companies. His post about Amazon’s new service on his blog cheers Amazon’s entry into the space. “I must admit, it’s great to have a giant corporate ally in the battle against the record labels that are fighting against user’s storing their personal music libraries online.”

Amazon Cloud is definitely intended to increase sales from the AmazonMP3 store. Songs purchased through the store are automatically loaded into your personal music locker in Amazon Cloud. The service is well integrated with Android, and not integrated with iPhone. It does sync with iTunes. Several reviews point out that it seems to be pretty basic, look for further developments and improvements.

New Group to Sell Streaming Audio Ads for Abacast Stations

Streaming provider Abacast has signed a multi year deal with a new digital and radio sales firm. AdLarge will sell streaming audio ads and companion banners to both radio and digital advertisers and use Abacast’s ad insertion technology to deliver those ads.

AdLarge is a new name in the streaming audio network sales arena, joining a group that includes Katz360, Triton Digital and Targetspot. Abacast’s roster of streaming broadcast as well as online only streaming stations is no doubt a significant addition to their group of stations.

AdLarge’s management team includes folks formerly with national radio network MediaAmerica or Jones MediaAmerica, which was sold in 2008 to Triton Media Group. AdLarge CEO Gary Schonfeld was President of MediaAmerica and then President of Westwood One. He’s joined by AdLarge President Cathy Csukas, former COO/EVP Westwood One Radio Networks and COO of Jones MediaAmerica, as well as several other folks with stints at both companies.

It looks like a nice deal for Abacast, who can offer their stations a new revenue opportunity. “Digital revenue generation is the number one request we get from our customers,” said Rob Green, Abacast CEO.  “The AdLarge partnership adds a powerful national ad sales partner and well-known national brands to our online radio solution.  Our customers now have yet another revenue source to complement or even replace their local digital sales.”

And it’s a good sign for the marketplace as well. Competition signals a healthy marketplace where opportunities have been identified. It also means more people in the market talking about streaming audio, building buzz and growing revenue. All good things…

Webcast Metrics Reports on January Listening

Stations that saw an increase in listening attributable to holiday music saw some declines in their streaming stats in January, according to the newly released Webcast Metrics data from AndoMedia. Pandora, for example, saw a modest decline in its Average Active Sessions number for the total week, dropping about 20,000 from their AAS.

AccuRadio, another station that features extensive holiday music offerings, dropped about 25% of its audience. I have to wonder whether, in addition to declines due to less holiday listening, the weather was any factor, given that January was among the snowiest months in history on the east coast. Lots of online listening still happens at work and this would have been impacted by that. February’s data will tell us more in that regard.

Other notes from this new monthly release: Slacker‘s data leveled off after a couple of months of sharp increases as mobile listening data started being reflected in their number.

Bucking the trend and showing up with more audience in January were Citadel (10%), ESPNRadio (17%), Cumulus (18%), Digitally Imported (19%), and EMF with an impressive 22% increase.

TSL leaders continue to be Salem, Bonneville and AccuRadio. Here’s the Domestic Total Week Chart:

Slacker Scores With ESPN Radio

Slacker added another big radio brand to its growing list of branded audio content yesterday when they announced that they would be adding access to an interactive ESPN channel that will give listeners access to lots of customizable content from the largest sports network in the country. Slacker already offers its listeners ABC News, plus both genre based and personalizable music channels, artist programmed channels, comedy and hispanic programming.

It’s a very nice play for Slacker, and one that certainly gives them bragging rights to what may be the most varied program offerings in the land. Slacker, which is US based, streams audio content to listeners in the US and Canada. The ESPN station will be available to all Slacker listeners for free and Slacker Radio Plus subscribers will have access to the full ESPN experience for $3.99 a month.

ESPN Radio already has a really nice online presence, ranked 7th on AndoMedia’s Webcast Metrics ranker for December with an average number of active sessions streaming of around 15,000. So why this deal? “It has long been our mission to provide listeners with the ability to experience ESPN Audio content wherever they are and through whichever medium fits best into their busy lifestyle,” said Traug Keller,senior vice president, Production Business Divisions, ESPN, Inc..

It’s all about extending the brand, which may well mean this is the first, but not the last streaming audio deal for ESPN.

Slacker meanwhile is rapidly becoming the largest streaming audio content network, with a nice list of big name radio brands to offer its listeners, in customizable formats that make it easy and appealing for them to get what they want. Which is probably the key to getting them to pay for it – Slacker’s got some deals in place with mobile phone companies that make that a little easier with the phones preloaded with Slacker apps and direct billing from the phone companies for customers that subscribe.

I’m impressed, this is a nice move by Slacker, who seems to be well on its way to building a nice streaming audio content network. Now if they would just change their name…

Radio Isn’t Pandora and Pandora Isn’t Radio

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Ev...

Image by Jerrycharlotte via Flickr

Streaming music platforms are getting a lot of attention lately. Pandora’s been growing its audience at an impressive rate, MOG, rdio and others are getting funding, former radio personalities are showing up on Internet radio, and lots of folks are talking about it.

It’s a groundswell that started, like many do, as a teeny tiny trend that many folks said would never take off. Back in 2003 when I started Net Radio Sales (now Katz360), the other guys were starting RL Radio (now Targetspot). Arbitron was shutting down its streaming measurement platform (called Measurecast). And revenue was tough to come by.

That’s not the case anymore. Investment money is flowing into online music platforms, and Pandora recently announced a plan for an IPO to raise $100 million. Audiences are growing fast. Targetspot recently told Inside Radio that their revenues were up 75% over last year. The future looks bright and getting brighter.

But all of this seems to have thrown radio broadcasters off of their game. Instead of focusing on their core competencies, they can’t take their eyes off of Pandora or Slacker, or another streaming music platform. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots to like about those platforms. They can deliver unique personalized streams and targeted ads to registered listeners, and that’s a great thing.

But they aren’t a replacement for broadcast radio. They’re not local and their not personable. They’re not…human.

In developing their online streaming presence, Radio broadcasters should focus on the human aspects of their programming. Concentrate on talent, news, and excellent programming. Not programming for the highest cume, but for the happiest and most engaged listeners. Interact with those listeners in meaningful ways, and give them ways to interact with the station and each other. Create fun and interesting blogs, side channels, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages that listeners can love. And please, register those users.

Stop thinking about what Pandora is and trying to be that, instead think about what they aren’t and play that card…

Nielsen is Tracking Billions of Streams

Nielsen Entertainment recently expanded its coverage of music streaming measurement, adding several key streaming platforms to its streaming panel. Newly added services include Vevo, Slacker, MOG, Thumbplay, Akoo, and Cricket. Data from these services, and from the existing reporting panel consisting of AOL, Napster, Rhapsody, Verizon Wireless and Yahoo! will appear in Nielsen’s BDS reports.

Nielsen Entertainment produces reports on lots of activity related to the music industry – Nielsen BDS monitors music played on radio stations in the US, Canada, Europe and Mexico. Nielsen SoundScan reports on physical and digital song sales. They provide lots of insight into things like what songs people listen to and buy, which it sells to radio programmers, record companies, etc. Sources like Billboard produce their reports from this data.

During the first six weeks of 2011, Nielsen tracked more than 1.1 billion music streams through online music streaming services. More than 165 million streams per week are captured and nearly 26 million weekly song downloads are tracked. That is a lot of streaming music activity.

According to their press release, Nielsen is the only company able to provide weekly trending information on streaming activity, as well as a more granular understanding of from where consumers stream music. Nielsen also provides insights on the type of streams; on-demand streams, those songs/videos that consumers choose to listen to, versus programmed streams, or when songs are not chosen by the consumer.

As music streaming activity and digital downloads increase while physical song sales sink, streaming’s importance is growing as an important measure of who is listening to what. I expect we’ll see the list of streaming music platforms in their panel to continue to grow.

Jelli Partners With Westwood One

Image representing Jelli as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Crowdsourcing music platform Jelli has partnered with Westwood One in a multi-year agreement for the network to exclusively represent on-air advertising sales for all local and nationally syndicated Jelli radio programming. Commercial air time within Jelli programming will be available to advertisers through both the Westwood One Network and Metro Traffic divisions.

This news apparently reverses a deal between Jelli and Triton Media announced a year ago. Triton owns Dial Global, a national radio network competitive with Westwood One. Note: According to Jim Kerr from Triton “Dial Global is still providing distribution and back end broadcasting services to Jelli for their nationally syndicated product.”

Jelli’s platform enables listeners to broadcast radio to vote for their favorite songs and impact what gets played – or not played – in real time. From the web or their mobile device, listeners use Jelli to vote for the artists and songs they love and want to hear, together creating dynamic playlists that determine in real time what will play.

Jelli’s local and nationally syndicated shows air on radio stations from coast to coast, including those in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco. Jelli’s been bartering its all request radio format for a couple of minutes of commercial inventory in the hour long program, which makes selling those spots critical to Jelli’s success. “This partnership marks an important milestone for our company and for social radio as a whole,” said Jelli CEO Michael Dougherty. “Working together, we will be able to connect more advertisers and provide more opportunities for advertisers to actively engage with listeners.”

RadioInk declared this an interesting and innovative deal and compares Jelli’s functionality to personalized online platforms like Pandora. RadioInk seems to think that Jelli, which allows bunches of listeners to pitch in and build a playlist that everyone will hear on the air at the same time, is personalized radio that can compete with Pandora and Slacker’s ability to stream unique individualized playlists for each and every targeted listener. Listeners who are registered so that ads can be targeted demographically and geographically. Jelli is a fun way to add interactivity to broadcast radio, but it’s none of that.

While there is a list of things that Jelli isn’t, there is also a list of things that it is – it’s fun, innovative broadcast radio that encourages listener participation and probably increases engagement. If Westwood One can position it as that, rather than trying to compare it to Pandora, Slacker or any other type of personalized online radio offering, it will be far more successful in growing Jelli’s ad revenue.

Register Now For Internet Radio’s Biggest Event of the Year

Internet radio passionistas will convene at RAIN Summit West on April 11th during NAB Show week in Las Vegas at the Renaissance Hotel.

RAIN Summits are the premiere educational and networking events for Internet radio, and this 9th annual event in Vegas promises to be the best yet. Panels such as Compelling Content, What’s Driving Internet Radio, Legal Update, Upward Mobility and others will cover topics ranging from growing your audience to avoiding legal pitfalls, mobile and in-car streaming, and more. 

Speakers will include execs from CBSRadio, Pandora, Emmis, AOL Radio, SomaFM, Digitally Imported, Cox, Katz360, Targetspot, Triton Digital and many many more. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to listen and network with some of the smartest folks in the business.

RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter Publisher Kurt Hanson will present his annual Future of Radio speech. Registration includes the full day agenda plus lunch and the end of the day cocktail party by the pool.

For more information and to register, click here. See you there!

Internet Radio’s On The Agenda At SXSW

Internet radio is getting some attention at SXSW and there are several sessions on the agenda that pertain.

Jake Sigal, Founder of Internet radio device manufacturer Livio Radio, will present “The View From Detroit: In Vehicle Music” on Saturday the 19th. Sigal plans to discuss in car listening options that include AM/FM, Satellite, HD and Internet radio. He’ll ask, and may even answer questions like: Will one emerge as a leader as the others fall to the wayside? Are too many options hurting the overall industry? Where are the opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs?

Rebecca McInroy of WKUT, a public radio station affiliated with the University of Texas in Austin, presents a session called: “Baby’s Gotta Face for Radio: Web Based Radio?” It’s described as a panel that “will explore how public radio stations can build interactive visual components with the goal of becoming a hyper-local non-profit multi-media presence while serving a global audience, and at the same time maintaining the standard and mission NPR has developed.”

On tuesday the 15th Rusty Hodge, Founder and GM of SomaFM, is hosting an Online Radio Meetup at SXSW on tuesday the 15th. If you’re in town, don’t miss this chance to hang out with Rusty and other online radio folks.




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