The streaming marketplace is becoming increasingly segmented, with big new brands like iTunes Radio and Beats Music competing with Pandora, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Rdio and a multitude of others for listener’s ears. Many of the streaming services offer similar options – personalized song recommendations based on a listener’s likes and dislikes, playlist building, social features, etc.. Some offer on-demand song plays as well.
Big data – the term used for collections of data that are so big that special processing is needed in order to use it – is a key component of these customized listening features. Services like Pandora, with 200 million registered users, collect information from listeners that includes their age, location, and gender. That basic information is useful for targeted ad campaigns. But there’s a lot more to big data than that – and that’s the stuff that music personalization is made of. Each time you like or dislike a song, skip an artist, type in an artist’s name, that’s more information that can be processed.
Key to effective use of big data are services that specialize in processing that information. Companies like The Echo Nest (recently sold to Spotify) and Gracenote (owned by Tribune Company) work with many of the platforms, creating data sets that enable Pandora, Spotify and others to better understand their listeners.
Big data processing is important on the advertising side as well. Companies like Pandora and iHeartRadio employ their own fleet of programmers to keep their data proprietary and make it understandable and useful. Third party providers like Triton Digital work with many companies to process their data and create identifiable audience characteristics.
Using a combination of zip code analysis and an individual’s music tastes, Pandora has begun creating audience profiles based on political affiliation. Exploring similarities between music choices and movie preferences, The Echo Nest concluded, among other things, that “if you like crime movies, you most probably enjoy listening to Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, The Who, Bob Dylan, and Pink Floyd in that order.”
From selling tickets to the Carole King musical “Beautiful” on Broadway by targeting listeners who like her music, to selling flowers for Mother’s day to guys of a certain age who tune in to kid programming so their kids can listen, it’s exciting to think about the possibilities that big data can offer to streaming audio.
Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio has added an interactive platform for talk radio to its offering. The newly announced iHeartRadio Talk will feature on-demand listener-created talk content alongside popular news, celebrity and entertainment “audiosodes.”
“Listeners who have been accepted into the iHeartRadio Talk library will be able to record and instantly share their perspective on any topic they choose – it’s basically like offering ‘audio Twitter.'” said Brian Lakamp, President of Digital, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, “We are giving a voice to the everyman, and at the same time are enabling iHeartRadio users to discover and enjoy thousands of ‘audiosodes’ from the best talent around the country.”
Through a partnership with Spreaker, a platform that enables listeners to create personal radio broadcasts, iHeartRadio will also feature user generated content. iHeartRadio Talk will offer “Daily Pulse,” a customizable Talk channel featuring the most up-to-date news and culture highlights, which allows users to add content that is most important to them. The service will also enable listeners to search for their favorite talk programming from ABC News, American Public Media, TMZ, the Wall Street Journal and others, not to mention Clear Channel’s own featured talk show hosts like Ryan Seacrest, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others. Local news weather and traffic reports can also be integrated into the offerings.
Adding talk programming and user generated content to the iHeartRadio platform greatly expands the offering and is a nod to several popular platforms like Stitcher, SoundCloud, and even NPR, which has a huge talk presence online. It’s a smart move for iHeart that greatly expands their service and probably makes them a more interesting standalone platform for dashboard integration as well – something that I’m sure was part of the plan..
Last week Pandora announced a significant milestone when they reached 200 million registered listeners. The fact that the number of registered listeners leapt from 100 million to 200 million in two years makes it still more impressive. Remember, Pandora’s user base is largely in the US, although they have recently expanded to a few other places such as Australia.
During a presentation last week at RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas, hundreds in the audience got a first look at updated trends in Infinite Dial 2013. Arbitron SVP Bill Rose and Edison Research President Larry Rosin offered some stats on Pandora, which has an impressive brand awareness recognition rate of 69% among adults 12+ in the US, a number that grew 10% since last year’s study. iHeartradio showed impressive brand awareness in the new study as well, with 45% brand recognition, a jump of almost 15% since last year.
The study also reported that close to half of the folks surveyed had downloaded the Pandora app onto their cellphone. This fact reveals the steam engine driving both the growth in audience and brand awareness for industry leader Pandora – their amazing success with mobile apps. As usage of smartphones and tablets has soared, Pandora’s been right out there in front, gaining front page status on those devices. 21% of cell phone owners now saying they have used their phone to listen to a stream in their car, yet another indication of the growing importance of mobile devices.
We’ll be discussing mobile devices, connected cars and a lot more again on May 23 in Brussels at RAIN Summit Europe. Have you registered? Hope to see you there!
While the connected dashboard is a concept that holds lots of promise for streaming stations, it’s no secret that it poses a point of concern for platforms that already own the dashboard real estate – like broadcast and satellite. Last year Sirius XM added 2 million net subscribers, and a lot of those came from folks who bought cars with the product already installed. That’s a big source of new audience for Sirius XM. While the streaming industry is busy declaring victory with every new car that integrates Pandora, iHeartRadio, Aha or TuneIn, Sirius is busy thinking about protecting its turf from the new dashboard.
Enter MySXM, the satellite company’s streaming option for listeners. CEO Jim Meyers positions the new streaming platform as a defensive move, pointing out that SiriusXM will have an advantage by offering both satellite and IP options in the dashboard. “Listeners also don’t need to constantly lean forward to create a tailored listening experience. They can just tune to the music channels they already like and adjust the channel’s unique slider controls and set them once for good or change them any time they want….This new feature will further enhance our IP offering, which has been greatly improved over the past year and now includes the ability to time shift up to five hours on many stations, start songs at the beginning when tuning to a music channel and the ability to play thousands of hours of talk and entertainment from over 300 shows from our library of on-demand content.
Though there is no official launch date for MySXM yet, information from the call yesterday was that the platform will be available across all platforms and devices.
Triton released new audience data this week and the most interesting thing on the ranker is the fact that Clear Channel’s streaming platform is beginning to pick up steam, with stats growing 7% from April to May.
As RAIN points out in their analysis yesterday afternoon, Pandora‘s number grew about 4% from April to May, which could be an indicator of slowing in terms of their exponential growth. With more than a billion session starts and close to a million active sessions during the month, their market share is massive. Clear Channel’s growing active session number is approaching just 15% of Pandora’s number.
One thing that can continue to drive Clear Channel’s growth is their ability to brand iHeartRadio throughout their media empire. The deals that they have signed with other broadcast companies also drive listener registration for the iHeartRadio platform. Once registered, those listeners to Cox, Greater Media, Cumulus, or other partner stations in the platform, can easily be converted to listeners to iHeartRadio. Recently introduced features such as artist curated channels, personalized listening options, and social offerings are helping to drive both sampling and listening to iHeartRadio.
Here’s the ranker:
CBS RADIO has signed a non-exclusive deal with tunein, giving tunein listeners access to news, sports and talk content on more than 40 CBS RADIO stations. This news flies in the face of several exclusive deals recently leveraged by Clear Channel on its iHeartRadio platform, where some major broadcasters were signing away their rights to work with multiple online portals to engage listeners, and instead agreeing that the online online portal they would work with would be iHeartRadio.
“We have always believed in the value of great local content, and this agreement validates the demand we know exists for our original programming while at the same time creates a new revenue source for the company,” said Ezra Kucharz, President, CBS Local Digital Media. “By forging relationships with premiere distribution services such as tunein, CBS RADIO will significantly grow its audiences by exposing our content to new listeners.”
The CBS RADIO deal make a lot of sense, although it’s disappointing that only talk radio content is included. This may be due to tunein’s global appeal – CBS Radio restricts streaming of its music stations to the US. tunein has a suite of very popular mobile apps as well as deals with many devices and automakers, high rankings on iTunes for its popular app. According to Alexa, it’s one of the most popular websites in the US and world, ranking just above the top 1000. That’s a lot of potential listeners…
Triton Digital has released its monthly top 20 report for December 2011, based on its measurement of streaming platforms that subscribe to its Webcast Metrics service.
I’m weary of the microscopic monthly analysis of this data, so I decided to take a look at what has happened to the general space in a year.
- Pandora continues to completely dominate the measured pack. From January 2011 to December 2011 they grew their AAS (Average Active Sessions) by 88%. Session starts grew by less, meaning they did a pretty good job of holding on to their listeners. Their Time Spent was down, but only slightly from .83 to .75.
- Slacker was the big winner in terms of share of growth, they increased the size of their AAS by nearly 93%. The numbers are much smaller though, Slacker ended the year with an AAS of 50,767, in part thanks to the addition of AOL‘s streaming audience to its network. Slacker’s growing their audience and their tsl — gaining listeners and getting them to listen longer.
- Clear Channel’s online platform is iHeartRadio, although on the ranker it appears as Clear Channel. Their online audience grew as well, but not as much as you might expect given all the promotion. AAS is up by 48%. TSL down from 1.15 to .63 – more listeners spending less time listening.
- CBSRadio’s online platform suffered the loss of AOL’s streaming audience when they moved to Slacker. Their online audience dropped nearly 40% last year.
- ESPNRadio.com started the year on a big high of 17000, the largest standalone streaming number. At the end of the year they were still the biggest, although their number is down to 13,959 in December. It is possible given their singular focus on sports that January’s exciting football playoffs factor into that, I’m not sure.
Got more observations? Chime in! Here are the rankers I took my observations from:
Last year was quite a year for Internet radio and related streaming music services, and judging from some of the end of the year activity, this year should be lots of fun as well. I took the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, so here’s my just-a-little-late 2011 recap, summed up in what I think were the stories of the year.
1. Pandora went public. They raised $234.9 million in their public offering in June, selling 14.7 million shares at $16. The stock has struggled to regain that kind of price since then, but the service continues to gain listeners, ending the year with well over 100 million registered listeners.
2. Spotify launched in the US. While they would have liked to get their ducks in a row and have launched before Pandora’s public offering, Spotify did launch in July. Europe’s most popular streaming service began serving US listeners and gaining great attention with mobile apps, on-demand and programmed offerings.
3. Facebook made friends with streaming platforms. In September at its f8 developer conference, facebook announced that it would integrate third party streaming music apps into its platform, opening up the gates for those services to gain listeners as folks listen and like songs and share them with their network of friends.
4. iHeartradio revamped and relaunched. The all new iHeartradio includes all the streams offered online by Clear Channel stations as well as streaming channels. Other broadcasters are offering their programming through the platform as well – including Univision, Cumulus/Citadel/ABC, and EMF. These changes signal Clear Channel’s intention that iHeartradio become a portal to streaming broadcast stations.
5. Digital trendspotter and investment analyst Mary Meeker predicts that online audio is the next big thing.
Those are the five things that I think were the biggest stories in online radio in 2011. I think the real story is a combination of all of them – an investment friendly marketplace with increasing competition and opportunities. What do you think?..
Clear Channel’s iHeartradio showed a surge in audience for October following the relaunch of the streaming platform with a 10 million dollar promotional budget that included a two day live and streamed concert in Las Vegas. Newly released audience data from Triton Digital’s Webcast Metrics audience measurement platform shows that iHeartradio gained 15% in the number of average active sessions from September to October’s 106,733, after gaining 10% in September, the month during which the relaunch of iHeartradio took place.
Meanwhile, Pandora‘s audience continued to surge as well, growing 7.5% to more than 800,000 Average Active Sessions Monday – Sunday 6am – mid in October.
CBS Radio‘s streaming audience fell again, after losing AOL Radio which migrated to Slacker in August. The AAS for CBS Radio dropped 14% during October. Slacker consequently saw their AAS grow by 18%. The Cumulus group of streaming stations is looking strong on the ranker as a result of their purchase of Citadel since the last release, however, their 45,489 AAS is actually lower than the combined Cumulus and Citadel numbers from September by about 4%.
WNYC debuts on the report, although we do not know if that’s a result of audience growth or that they are new to the measurement platform. Triton’s Webcast Metrics is server based measurement Other groups such as Cox, Entercom and others were pretty stable in the month to month report.
When facebook introduced its music discovery platform with a list of streaming partners at its f8 developers conference in September, we knew there would be some big winners among the partnering services. Now, from a post on facebook’s own developer blog we learn that since that announcement on September 22nd, facebook users have shared songs 1.5 billion times using those services integrated apps.
Facebook wanted to integrate music sharing and discovery and make it a more meaningful part of the facebook experience. It’s certainly been that for their partner services, which have experienced growth ranging from doubling their active users to increasing their user base 2 – 10 times.
Here’s a list of highlights, pulled from the post, of the growth some of the services have seen:
- Spotify: Already one of the defining social music apps on the web, they expanded to the US this summer and added well over 4 million new users since f8.
- Earbits: Y Combinator-funded startup built by a team of musicians saw a 1350 percent increase in the number of users becoming fans of the band they’re listening to.
- MOG: Their uniquely social business model has led to a 246 percent growth in Facebook users since f8.
- Rdio: Their strong social ecosystem has expanded with a 30x increase in new user registrations from Facebook.
- Slacker: Available across mobile, TV, auto and web, Slacker saw a more than 11x increase in monthly active users in the month following f8.
- Deezer: Based in France, they’ve added more than 10,000 users per day since finalizing their Open Graph integration.