Last.fm is now offering music videos in addition to streamed audio content to its European listeners, via a new partnership with MUZU.tv. The new feature will add 90,000 music videos to Last.fm offerings. Videos will appear on artist pages, and also be integrated for “scrobbling“, the social tool that listeners can use to finetune their listening and discover new music.
While the feature is only available in Europe right now, it will be rolled out to other key markets soon. One can only imagine that the US will be one of those markets for CBS Interactive-owned Last.fm.
Last.fm is a deep interface for music discovery that is sometimes overlooked in conversations about streaming audio here in the US because they stopped offering on-demand streaming in 2010. Since then, they have continued to offer personalizable radio akin to Pandora, along with sharing and social tools that can integrate with other music platforms like Spotify for on-demand streaming.
Adding video in the form of 90,000 videos is substantial and a good move given the massive popularity of Youtube as an on-demand streaming option, one that is likely to increase Last.fm’s viability in the streaming audio marketplace.
As you have probably heard, Google has put their newest streaming music offering into play, calling it (awkwardly) Google Play All Access. Personalizability, interactivity, it’s all here. It’s called “Radio without rules”, according to Chris Yerga, Google Engineering Director, Android, who debuted the new platform at Google I/O, a conference for developers in San Francisco.
Indeed, the new Google Music service is all things – offering a deep catalog of songs available on-demand, as well as all the interactive bells and whistles like new music recommendations, playlist building and sharing, the ability to integrate your own music into the mix. In fact, listeners can add their own music and albums from the service into one library, in one nifty interface.
On the web browser, the offering is the same, and available across all your devices. For $9.99 a month.
So the race to capture subscribers who are willing to pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to all music is on. Spotify has been trying to get folks interested in that for a while by charging a fee for mobile access to their on-demand platform, along with other services like Rhapsody and Rdio.
Google’s ability to integrate its service is of course much deeper – they’re already doing business with just about everyone. The interface looks good, and studies have shown that music lovers are willing to pay a fee for access to music. And people love listening to music online. It’s consistently one of the favorite online activities. So this could be a hit for Google. Could be. But I’m wondering about a few things as well. First, Google is the company that gives content away to consumers and monetizes the traffic – youtube, Gmail, Google voice, consumers are not exactly trained to think about their credit cards when they see that Google logo. Second, Google has had a few stops and starts when it comes to announcing amazing new online music platforms. Like Google Music take one (Discovery), and take two (Music Beta).
One thing that is consistent is Google’s inability to come up with a spicy, enticing name. Google Play All Access? It’s a horrible name for a pretty nifty streaming music interface…
It’s a week for streaming services to boast about the size of their audience, with both Slacker and iHeartradio making announcements that they have grown. Slacker, which relaunched with a new design and offerings in February, had a nice showing in the March ranker of Webcast Metrics that we saw last week. Now we’re hearing more details on that from a press release which reports that six million new listeners have signed up since that relaunch in Feb, with 3.5 million of them on mobile devices. Slacker has also picked up 100,000 paying subscribers since their relaunch, a 1.6% conversion rate.
In the release CEO Jim Cady says that “Slacker is the only digital music service that is gross margin positive on every listener – whether they’re ad-supported or a paid subscriber.” Gross margin positive is good – an indicator that a business is operating efficiently and shows promise. So this is a good thing. I’m not sure how Cady can be sure that they are the only digital music service that can say that – given that only Pandora’s accounting data is public. Some other cranky folks might argue that satellite services are digital as well.. But nonetheless, Slacker says they are doing well, and that’s good for them and the industry. (Now if only they would change their name..)
Not to be outdone, iHeartradio told us yesterday that they have reached the 30 million mark in terms of listeners, which is a very big number especially given the fact that they were at 20 million 7 months ago. iHeartradio has enormous capacity to ramp up its audience via its extensive network of AM/FM listeners.
Mobile was the fastest growing segment of streaming audio consumption in the March 2013 ranker just released by Triton Digital. Mobile listening accounted for 56% of all audio consumption in March 2012. According to the report, we have crossed the threshold where over half of all listening is consumed on mobile devices.
In March 2013, Pandora began capping mobile listening at 40 hours per month. As a result, we see a 3% drop in mobile listening for Pandora during the Monday through Sunday 6:00am to midnight daypart from March to February. During the same time period, we see a 23% increase in Pureplay mobile listening and a 5% increase in listening to AM/FM streams.
Slacker meanwhile picked up 18% during the February to March period, which could be a result of the capping by Pandora. In mid February Slacker launched a new interface with more personalized tuning options, as well as a tv ad campaign aimed directly at Pandora, which was timed perfectly with Pandora’s decision to cap mobile listening at 40 hours per month.
RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter points out that “While Pandora did slip 4% overall from February, its AAS is still 39% more than 12 months ago. Among broadcast streamers, Univision had a strong March (up 22%), as did the NPR Member Stations group (up 16%).” Read more of their analysis here.
While these numbers refer to US listening, streaming audio measurement, as well as Mobile streaming strategies, will be panel topics at our upcoming RAIN Summit Europe in Brussels two weeks from today. Hope to see you there!
Traffic to SoundCloud is ramping up quickly. According to a monthly report by comScore Media Metrix, the number of unique visitors to the site grew 26% from Feb 2013 to March 2013 and landed them in the top ten fastest growing sites on the web (for US users). SoundCloud, which enables anyone to share audio in much the same way that users share video on YouTube, saw nearly 10.5 million users in March.
SoundCloud is based in Berlin. They are well funded, and count both Fred Wilson and Mary Meeker, two investors who pay quite a bit of attention to the online audio space, as investors and board members.
Want to hear more about SoundCloud ? VP of Business Development Dave Haynes will be joining us at RAIN Summit Europe coming up in just a couple of weeks, on May 23 in Brussels. He’ll join a panel discussion called Mainstream Mobile, hosted by James Cridland. Come to the conference and join the conversation. Hope to see you there!
RAIN Summits, the premiere educational and networking events for the Internet radio and online audio industry, have announced the agenda for RAIN Summit Europe on May 23 in Brussels. The largest gathering of its kind in Europe, RAIN Summit Europe’s speaker list features a diverse list of web radio professionals from most countries and provides an excellent opportunity for the industry to share expertise.
RAIN Summit Europe will take place at the award-winning Hotel Bloom! in Brussels. The pan-European conference will be a day-long event, including thought provoking panels and presentations, insightful speakers, and engaging networking opportunities. Executives from many different European countries will share thoughts and ideas on the future of radio in the digital world.
RAIN Summit Europe will feature a list of speakers who are experts on various aspects of the field of streaming radio. Featured speakers at the conference in May include:
- David Deslandes, Deezer, France
- Simon Gooch, SBS Radio Sweden/Radio Play, Sweden
- James Cridland, Media UK, United Kingdom
- Ali Abhary, Spectrum Medya, Turkey
- Kjartan Slette, WiMP, Norway
- Christian Schalt, KISS FM/Radio Service Berlin, Germany
- Jan-Willem Brüggenwirth, 538Group, Netherlands
- Jean Pierre Cassaing, Havas Media, France
- Alain Reyes, NRJ Audio, France
- Joel Ronez, Radio France, France
- Steve Whilton, Last.fm, United Kingdom
- Caroline Grazé, NRJ, Germany
- Lubor Zoufal, Lagardère Active ČR, Czech Republic
- Paula Cordeiro, RTP, Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa, Portugal
“This agenda features an excellent complement of speakers from across Europe for a full day of panels, presentations and networking that endeavors to advance the business prospects for online audio,” said Jennifer Lane, President of RAIN Summits.
“In Europe today, Internet radio is an extremely vibrant and fast-growing media segment, with many of the top AM/FM broadcasters actively participating in the category along with a number of innovative entrepreneurs,” said Kurt Hanson, Publisher of RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter. “Last year’s RAIN Summit Europe, in Berlin, attracted a very high caliber of both speakers and attendees. This year, we’re excited to bring RAIN Summit Europe to the business capital of Europe, Brussels, and our agenda is shaping up to be our best yet!”
For more information on the agenda and speakers, visit the RAIN Summit Europe website
Developers at The Echo Nest have put together a fun tool to demonstrate their ability to create music profiles for individuals based on the music they like or say they like. The way it works – you can either type in a few artists, or allow access to your facebook likes and it stereotypes you based on your musical selections.
Without much thought, I typed in a few of my favorites: Joan Armatrading and the B52s (from my college days), Dar Williams, Jack Johnson and Michael Buble. Up pops my musical listening persona, which I was fairly disappointed in: I’m a Sheltering Suburban Mom who likes Cabernet and 50 Shades of Grey, at least according to the game. And I thought I was so cutting edge.
The Echo Nest, on the other hand, is cutting edge. I’ve been to their offices in a trendy renovated warehouse in Davis Square in Somerville (not far at all from the now infamous Watertown). The company was started by a couple of smart MIT guys who originally thought they were building a streaming service like Pandora, and then decided that they would instead go into the backend business of powering personalized music services. Somewhere along the way they hired CEO Jim Lucchese, a smart and likeable guy. Now they are powering the likes of Spotify, iHeartradio, MTV, Vevo, and others.
Personalized music experiences are becoming a standard offering of most of the bigger music services. Go on and play What’s Your Stereotype, it’s easy to understand how your listeners will like it. And I dare you to tweet it, or post it below when you’re done..
Jim Lucchese is one of the smart people who often speaks at RAIN Summits. Our next conference is RAIN Summit Europe in Brussels on May 23.