Monthly Archives: February, 2012

Pandora Averages a Million Listeners In January

According to the latest ranker release from Triton Digital, Pandora has over a million average active sessions during the Monday through Sunday 6am – midnight broad daypart. Say what you will, that’s an enormous achievement.

In fact January turned out to be a good month for lots of streaming networks – Clear Channel, CBSRadio, Cumulus, EMF, Digitally Imported, Entercom, Cox and ESPNRadio all had strong January showings, according to the Webcast Metrics data that measures subscribing stations. Slacker was the only top ten streaming platform that did not show an increase from December to January.

Salem, EMF and AccuRadio lead the pack in terms of time spent listening. Here’s the ranker:

Consumers That Stream Also Listen To FM In Cars

Nearly 40% of smartphone owners have used their device to listen to a streaming music service while in their car, according to new research by NPD Group on automotive connectivity. Devices and ways to connect them have become a serious focus for the auto industry. 79% of car owners are using a digital device in their cars.

It appears at this point that streaming in the car is used to supplement listening to traditional radio – according to NPD’s Ben Arnold, seventy three percent of drivers report still using their FM radio “always” or “most of the time” during car trips while more than half (57 percent) of vehicle owners say a CD player is vital in their decision to buy a car stereo or entertainment system.

The desire to consume connected content is a challenge for the auto industry as well – as they focus on best ways to integrate mobile connectivity into the car with minimal driver distraction. Apple’s voice controlled Siri  and Microsoft’s motion controlled product found in Kinect are technologies that automakers are looking to integrate into the equation.

Meanwhile, in place of smooth integration, consumers are finding ways to connect their mobile devices using auxillary inputs (18%), USB ports (11%), and Bluetooth technology (56%). This fact – that consumers are so interested in developing workaround ways to use their connected devices in their cars, is a huge indicator of the desirability for a more connected dashboard.

“The key is for auto makers and traditional audio manufacturers to facilitate consumer use of connected devices in the vehicle, allowing content from the smartphone, tablet, or digital media player to easily stream or be controlled through the deck mounted in the dashboard,” Arnold said.  “We’re only going to see greater consumer attachment to social media, streaming audio and video, and other services as content options grow.”

Digital Revenue Is The Bright Spot On Radio’s Revenue Report Card For 2011

Broadcast radio’s revenues from digital assets continued to outpace other categories in the 4th quarter of last year, according to a report by the Radio Advertising Bureau. Spot revenues meanwhile, shrank another 1% from a year before – a reality that is more ominious considering that the economy began to show signs of life late last year and many sectors were seeing recovery from the very low numbers of 2010.

Digital revenue in this report is activity generated by websites, Internet/web streaming and HD Radio. It grew by 15% over the previous year. “Driven by Radio’s mobility, local appeal and scale, broadcasters are finding more and more ways to generate the interactive experience expected in today’s marketplace.” said Jeff Haley, RAB President and CEO.

Digital revenues account for a mere 4% of the overall revenue for broadcast radio. While that number is growing, it’s not growing fast enough to replace ad dollars lost in the form of declining spot revenues. Digital media sources are replacing traditional ones as devices such as tablets and smartphones accelerate the migration online. In 2010, digital news readership and revenues were higher than newspaper readership and revenues for the first time.

The fact is, radio is well positioned to grow online audio ad dollars, thanks to a well developed business model. Pandora and sales companies like Targetspot, Katz360 and Triton’s Digital Sales group, radio’s national advertisers understand online radio and know how to buy it. Expanding the number of advertisers by improving online offerings and emphasizing online sales assets among local sellers is the key to growing digital revenue. In fact, according to Inside Radio, Clear Channel revenues grew 4% last year – attributable to the purchase of Westwood One’s traffic division as well as “higher digital radio billings.”


Now Adele Is Snubbing Spotify

Last week the world belonged to Adele, who won award after award at the Grammys. But you can’t hear 21, her award winning album, on Spotify. Adele’s pulled her music from the service.


Joining Coldplay, Paul McCartney and a few others, Adele – most likely with the encouragement of her record label, is boycotting Spotify, pulling her new album 21 from the service. This move is becoming more popular by artists looking to maximize sales of their new or newly award winning albums. There’s a growing opinion that giving listeners access to their new music on a service like Spotify, where listeners can select the song they want to hear whenever and as often as they would like, will hurt album sales, either digital or physical.


Apparently, Adele’s management was willing to license 21 to Spotify for premium, subscription paying listeners only, but this option was declined by Spotify. It’s not hard to understand why they declined it, as it could easily have a snowball effect on other artists.


There is a concerted effort by a growing list of popular artists to control the access that listeners have to their new music. Most of the recent moves have concentrated on limiting the kind of free, on-demand access that Spotify offers, although recently Paul McCartney reportedly blanked all streaming of his newly released album.


Note: Although there are multiple reports that Adele’s 21 is not available on Spotify, I do have access this morning to a “sampler” version of 21 in my Spotify library. I’m not sure if this is a new development, or a function of the fact that I have had it in my library for a while..


Abacast Announces New Cloud Based Traffic Platform

Online radio business platform Abacast has rolled out a new, cloud based product for ad traffic management. Clarity Digital Radio System is a cloud based product that enables greater flexibility in terms of custom options for ad-insertion and trafficking of ad campaigns.

“Clarity(tm) is a breakthrough release that provides our customers with the key benefits of cloud computing including reduced costs, easy and fast deployment, and automatic updates,” said Rob Green, Abacast CEO. “The use of a cloud-based platform will enable Abacast to quickly and continuously provide incremental value to our customers by focusing almost entirely on new features and functionality.”

Green goes so far as to say this new system is a game changer, the most advanced system in the industry. It features listener geo-targeting and ties in with national ad sales partners to help stations maximize their revenue opportunity.

“Clarity’s™ unique functionality enables TargetSpot to maximize insertions based on parameters set by each customer, but viewed across the entire network,” said Eyal Goldwerger, Targetspot CEO.  “Our traffic managers are more efficient and as a result Abacast’s customers are making more money.”

Abacast has been innovating in terms of upgrading their offerings to streaming stations over the past several years, working hard to offer not just technical services but meaningful revenue relationships to their partners. Sounds to me as though they are listening and addressing customer’s needs..

MySpace Has A New Approach And Lots Of New Listeners

English: The new Myspace logo Français : Le no...

MySpace has a new music player and a new approach – and a whole bunch of new listeners, according to news this week. Since launching its new music player and adding facebook integration, the service has picked up more than a million new registered listeners.

Once the most visited social and music site, MySpace lost ground under News Corp ownership and in 2009 facebook took over as the most popular social network. Losses in revenue, traffic and layoffs continued and in June 2011 MySpace was sold to Specific Media and Justin Timberlake for $35 million. News Corp had paid $580 million in 2005.

The new MySpace music player reveals a new approach for the once behemoth streaming service. Front and center is a “leanback” radio service that  features the largest online catalogue of free music in the world with 42 million songs.  Unlimited, on-demand listening, music recommendations and facebook integration are the other touted features. The personalized radio mode is very similar to the iHeartRadio experience where a listener can choose an artist and create a channel of similar sounding music from that selection. The service also offers more than 20 programmed channels in different genres.

The service is an interesting hybrid between Spotify, iHeartRadio and Pandora. Listeners can select specific artists and songs to hear, listen to a channel of similar songs, or tune in to a genre channel. There’s no way to like or dislike a certain song like Pandora offers, but then again, you can’t start with a specific song request on Pandora.

MySpace claims, with the new million listeners, to have 25 million registered users. Whether they can regain the interest of all those users remains to be seen, but a free service with this much flexibility and potential reach sure looks like it will have some impact…

Myxer’s Smart Advantage

One of the lesser known streaming music services announced as an integrated streaming partner with Facebook was Myxer. Until recently Myxer was primarily a leading site for ringtones and other media for mobile phones, and they were doing pretty well traffic wise with that formula, claiming  more than 15 million mobile and Web unique visitors per month.

Late last year Myxer added a streaming music service that offers users the ability to create their own stations, invite their friends, share what they are listening to on facebook, and join other’s listening parties. While this may not sound all that different from some other offerings such as, Myxer has a couple of things going for it, not the least of which is that it’s already widely used as a source of ringtones, and has significant traffic going on. Ringtones are primarily sold to users of feature, as opposed to smartphones. It turns out that building brand recognition with this market could be a valuable advantage for Myxer.

In the first seven weeks of its launch, Myxer announced that it had signed up 150,000 new users for Myxer Social Radio. “We’ve clearly built a strong trust with consumers that lay the groundwork for continued growth as we bring new innovative mobile content solutions to the marketplace. We expect continued success in 2012,” said  Myk Willis, Founder and CEO of Myxer.

As smartphone usage continues to grow, the ringtone market, primarily associated with more basic phones, should fade. This move gives Myxer a great way to convert that market to mobile streaming listeners as they become smartphone customers. Myxer’s Social Radio App was featured as a best app of 2011 by Rolling Stone as well.

Shazam Scored Big During Sunday’s Game

The award for best use of the Superbowl to drive traffic to its music platform goes to Shazam, the innovative mobile music tagging app that ranks among the five most downloaded apps on iTunes ever.

Shazam is an app that you can use to tag songs and identify them. Hear a song and wonder what it is? Shazam identifies the song for you and offers you the lyrics. It also lets you preview and purchase the song, watch the video, and learn more about the artist. You can share songs with your friends as well. They have more than 175 million people using the service in 200 countries.

Shazam encouraged users to use Shazam to tag the halftime performances of artists and get exclusive content. Sponsored by Bud Light, the promotion offered both a Shazam logo on the screen and announcer promo telling the tv audience that they could use the app to tag artists and ads, enter contests and get special offers. Sponsor tie-ins included Toyota, offering a win a car sweepstakes, which let viewers use the Shazam app to donate a buck to charity, and Pepsi which offered a free music video to viewers who used the app.

Shazam reported that football fans tagged content millions of times during the halftime show and ads. No word on how many folks downloaded the app during the show to use it, but I’m guessing there was a lot of traffic for that as well.

Simply by making music more interactive, Shazam was able to put itself at the center of one of the biggest tv events of the year. Here’s the Bud Light tv commercial featuring Shazam..

TuneIn’s New Tool Helps Stations See Traffic

TuneIn has announced a new feature to help stations on its platform analyze and better understand their digital traffic. TuneIn Amplifier is a free, simple tool that provides stations visibility into their TuneIn traffic.

Stations can get daily data from TuneIn Amplifier including total tunes their station received, total unique listeners, average time spent listening and the number of listeners, sorted by country, and state. For listener supported stations using TuneIn’s Donate service, stations can get click through information on that service as well.

This is great – finally TuneIn, a service that provides a great mobile tuning app, an online platform, and a software based tuner that is available in lots of connected devices, is stepping up its offering and helping online stations understand exactly how valuable it is. With 30 million active users, TuneIn is a valuable source of listeners for many stations. 

TuneIn has recently faced some stiff competition from Clear Channel, who has been trying to get broadcasters to sign exclusive digital portal deals with iHeartRadio. I wrote last week about how unwise I think that is for stations. But part of the problem was that broadcasters were not aware of all the traffic they were getting through TuneIn and other digital portals. Nor were they aware of TuneIn’s advantages, such as tuning deals with devices, and dashboard deals with automakers.

TuneIn’s listing is free and so is the service. Stations can sign up and update their profile and listing here.

Transparency is a good thing, and this service is bound to help stations understand and cultivate their digital audience, while helping TuneIn increase the value that the stations perceive in them. It’s a good move all around…

Time For Radio To Go Digital

English: Willet on the beach.

HD Radio has made no progress in the last couple of years in terms of raising awareness, according to a recent study by Mark Kassof and Company. In fact, according to the report, “Awareness has actually declined. In ’08, 67% had at least ‘heard of’ HD RADIO; now, 54% do. And consumers’ understanding (and misunderstanding) of HD is virtually identical to what we found three-plus years ago.”

While people who have heard of it seem to understand what it is – that understanding seems to come mostly from the “HD” which – thanks to tv technology, is easily understood as high definition. Very few understand that it is much more than that, more channels and choice, music tagging, traffic and other innovations.

Bob Struble, President and CEO of Ibiquity, the HD Radio company, recently noted that AM/FM radio was the only analog technology on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. He was distressed to note that “AM/FM radio[was] the only analog technology remaining at CES, everything else [was]digital.”

Struble notes that many other industries have already advanced to digital. “Broadcast and cable television, mobile phones, audio and video physical media, … all were analog, now are digital.” Digital technology provides a better customer experience, and that has spurred competition. Automakers were on display in force, thanks to the exciting developments with a digital dashboard.

The reason awareness of HD Radio is so low is because so few broadcasters have invested, adopted and promoted it. Thinking their position on AM/FM dials was secure, they never felt the urgency to spend a lot of money improving the quality of their offering. As connected devices in dashboards become more ubiquitous, radio’s final bastion will be challenged.

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