Tag Archives: Imeem

MySpace Music, Targetspot Selling Audio Ads

MySpace Music will run instream audio ads sold by national Internet radio sales company Targetspot. According to reports, the audio ads began running last week for advertisers like Turbo Tax and Office Depot. The ads are inserted after a listener hears one song, and can be followed by a complete album or up to 100 songs on a playlist without another interruption.

Targetspot has announced that this is an exclusive deal that adds MySpace Music’s audience to a network that includes AOL, CBS, Yahoo!, Slacker and Live 365.

Since MySpace Music’s  launch in September 2008, unique visitors to the music.myspace.com subdomain have increased 190 percent — growing from 4.2 million unique visitors to 12.1 million in June 2009. Year-over-year traffic to the URL has increased 1,017 percent. Since June, MySpace acquired social music site iLike, and later added imeem to its platform as well. MySpace Music was an announced key partner in Google Music’s music discovery platform.

This is great news for CBS backed Targetspot, and for the Internet radio industry. Last fall Pandora announced that they were beginning to air instream audio ads. It’s important for the development of a successful business model for Internet radio that key platforms like Pandora and MySpace Music contribute to creating that business model by running audio ads and creating more and better opportunities for advertisers on their platforms.

There’s A Lot To Like About MOG

Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes of recent news of music services like Imeem (sold for pennies), Spiralfrog (shutdown) and Spotify (US launch delayed), this week MOG, a music blogging platform, launched All Access, a new, ambitious on-demand service that is, well, pretty cool.

MOG All Access is right upfront about their business model – it costs 5 bucks a month – and they’re very direct about how great the service is too. The homepage says the music service is “Better than Rhapsody, Pandora and iTunes Combined.” Others agree – out of the box it’s getting some great reviews.

MOG All Access says it offers just about every album and song you can imagine – and indeed, I plugged in a bunch of stuff and they had most of it. Curiously, they don’t have Belle & Sebastian or Pousette Dart, a couple of offbeat names I plug in when I’m testing the depth of a service. (Spotify had both, Pandora and Google Music only had Belle & Sebastian). MOG did have Armin Van Buuren, I’m From Barcelona, Donna the Buffalo and other sort of obscure musicians.

The other thing that they have are deals with all four big record labels, as well as many others. In fact, their recent press release included enthusiastic quotes from the big four.

MOG All Access is the only online service that will let you plug in the name of an artist, like James Brown, the example on the video on their site, and then listen to all James Brown music. Other online services won’t give you more than 3 songs by an artist, thanks to performance copyright issues, but obviously, MOG obtained permission in their licensing deals to offer this.

While you’re listening to James Brown you can view all his songs and lyrics, save songs to your locker, build playlists and share them with friends, buy music, or just listen to his complete collection, James Brown Radio. While you’re listening to that, you can decide you want to discover or hear some similar sounding stuff and turn on the music discovery tool.

MOG All Access Founder David Hyman says that although they are offering an easy way for listeners to purchase music, they’re really betting that “consumption in the cloud is the future.” So you store your music in your locker, and listen on whatever connected device is handy – mobile, pc, whatever.

MOG’s got a great platform and it appears that the record companies have given the service not only their blessing but also a unique offering to listeners by enabling them to offer unlimited on-demand access to any music they want. At five bucks a month, they’ll have to get a lot of subscribers to make it work. As I have said about new services before: May they thrive…

Imeem Sells To MySpace For A Song

News Corp owned MySpace will purchase independent online music service Imeem, in a deal which is reported to be $1million in cash. Imeem has been in financial trouble for a while, and has run through an estimated $30million in investor dollars.

Among the investors, all four major record labels, although earlier this year Warner Music wrote off its investment in the service. In 2007, Imeem became the first ad supported on-demand online music service to negotiate deals with all four major labels. Those deals included equity which made partners of the four major labels. MySpace also has partnership deals in place with the four major labels.

A few months ago MySpace acquired online music service iLike, with 50 million registered listeners, for a reported $20million. Comscore estimated that Imeem had 16 million unique visitors in September. It’s impossible to compare these two numbers except to say that it doesn’t sound like Imeem is a lot smaller than iLike to me.

MySpace now owns two of the five online music services that announced partnerships with Google’s new music platform. The way that works is that Google drives traffic to partner sites who play the music and pay the royalties.

Recently Spotify delayed their US launch due to problems negotiating a license for ad supported on demand streaming with the record companies. Plug that info into the fact that Imeem was about to get acquired by MySpace for so little, and it’s easy to understand why Spotify is meeting with some opposition. Seems like the record companies want to limit their exposure on the ad supported revenue model…

Spotify Launch Hits a Snag

spotifySpotify, the European on-demand music streaming service that has taken Europe by storm, will apparently delay a US launch. For several weeks now there have been reports that the major labels were putting pressure on Spotify to abandon a free, ad-supported streaming model. The New York Times recently reported that major labels, already involved as backers with free ad-supported services like MySpace and Imeem, aren’t eager to license their catalogs to Spotify on that basis.

And they have a lot to say on the matter. “On-demand services have to negotiate private deals with the labels – there is no compulsory license, and the deals are not public.” according to David Oxenford a legal expert in streaming audio licensing.

But how much is the new Google music platform impacting this? Google Music is now driving listeners to Imeem and MySpace/iLike – the two services that are licensed by the record labels to stream on-demand. With that deal in place to support the two services that the record labels are already invested in, would they want to see Spotify come in and disrupt the market for on-demand services? Given some time, and the preference they’re getting from Google Music, Imeem and iLike (owned by MySpace) should be able to build their brands as destination sites for on-demand music.

Instead, the record companies would like to see Spotify offer their service on a premium basis, to those that subscribe. “We like Spotify as our partner in Europe, but we would like them to move more toward a paid subscription environment,” said Thomas Hesse, president of global digital business at Sony Music, as reported by the New York Times. Word is, Spotify is not happy about coming to the US with a paid-only model, hence they have delayed their launch.

Why is Everyone Talking About Spotify?

spotifyThere’s enormous buzz about Spotify, the European streaming music platform that promises to launch before the end of the year here in the US. I wish I could say I’ve tried it, but can’t unless I fly over to Europe for the weekend. Spotify is a music service that allows listeners to browse and stream songs on demand from a library of 3.5 million songs. Listeners can also build playlists, and their interface is supposed to be very intuitive and fun to use.

According to CEO Daniel Ek, Spotify aims “to provide the world’s biggest catalogue of music that’s quick, simple and fun to use.”  He says they’ll compete with Napster and Rhapsody here in the US (among others) but that only Spotify offers both an ad supported and subscription ways to enjoy the music.

Two main things about Spotify make it a good bet for success. On demand song streaming is appealing to music fans. Recent research has shown that as on demand streaming of songs increases, illegal song downloading goes down. Music fans are content to legally listen and share their music via an on demand streaming service rather than illegally download the music. Research also shows that fans would consider using an ad supported platform to get their music for free. Spotify’s platform gives music fans the chance to hear what they want when they want it, without paying for it. Legally.

They’ve reportedly raised millions of dollars (pounds) in VC money, and have tied the record labels in with equity deals as well, like Imeem and MySpace Music.

Everything I’ve read mentions their nifty platform, which requires a download onto your computer. They do not yet have an iPhone app, and they have a Google Android app that has not been released.

Already valued at $242 million, Spotify will be under enormous pressure to generate both advertising revenues and premium subscriptions to appease both their VC investors as well as pay royalties to the labels. In an article in Techcrunch over the weekend, guest author Michael Robertson is skeptical that they can make it given current royalty rates.

I have to admit I’m curious – both to see the service and to see how well they can monetize it.  It will be an interesting test of both the ad supported and premium subscription marketplaces. May they thrive…

Major Label Sues Grooveshark

I like music site Grooveshark, and have written about it several times (here, and here). They’ve got a great service that allows you to listen to any song you want. They’ve been exploring some unique revenue models – for example, in addition to selling advertising, they have a service that allows musicians or independent labels to purchase a certain number of song plays to listeners who like their kind of music.

I spoke with Jack DeYoung, VP of Label Relations for Grooveshark, and Josh Bonnain, VP Marketing, when I wrote an article about Grooveshark in May. At the time, I asked them about licensing deals. I wondered how they were dealing with the major labels given their on-demand streaming service is precisely the kind of thing that the labels dislike. Jack explained that their license was an “experimental” license with the record companies which allow them to stream songs on demand and share revenue with the labels and artists based on how often a certain song or artist is played. Yep, experimental was what he said – I went back and checked my notes. What he failed to mention at the time was that it was only an experiment on the part of Grooveshark.

Well…it turns out that might have been wishful thinking because EMI has now sued Grooveshark. In fact, it turns out EMI had sued Grooveshark prior to my first blog post on May 21st. hmmm.

In any event, as Peter Kafka points out in his article on this topic, Grooveshark now joins the list of services that are being sued by the major labels, and their chances of survival are looking rather slim. The labels – including some of the independent ones – see on-demand services as a threat to music sales. Other on-demand services – Imeem, MySpace Music for example, pay hefty fees to the labels.

I’m not sure what was going on with Grooveshark – but their experiment doesn’t seem to be working out so well…

Imeem, Grooveshark, and Music Clouds

photo by MiiiSH

photo by MiiiSH

It’s been a big week for news about Pandora – they announced the launch of a new, ad free premium (read: freemium) service with lots of enhanced features, projected profitability for their company next year,  and made news by working with Ford Sync to get into cars. All great stuff.

A few other digital music services have launched new platforms. Music streaming service Imeem has a new iPhone app. Imeem mobile, like other streaming service’s mobile apps, offers the ability to stream, create personalized channels, search for and purchase music from iPhone and iTouch devices.

With Artist Radio on Imeem, listeners can listen to stations featuring their favorite artists plus similar sounding ones. They can also create lists of favorite songs and artists, and that information will be used to create personalized stations based on that feedback. Like most online brands, Imeem also offers a selection of Featured Stations, preprogrammed streams for listeners who don’t care for the interactive options.

The most interesting feature is Imeem’s MYMUSIC which allows listeners to upload their music libraries to the site and then stream their music on demand from their mobile device. According to CNET, the Imeem app allows you to call up any song or album in your collection and play it without the restrictions associated with most services (i.e. limited skips, and the inability to play songs from the same artist back-to-back). It’s a concept called Cloud Storage, the idea being that music is stored on one main cloud server and pulled to various devices by the listener.

groovesharkGrooveshark, an on demand streaming music service, is working with Ping.fm on an app that pulls music from the Grooveshark library, creates a small twitter-compatible url for it, and allows people to tweet songs to each other. It’s a similar concept – Grooveshark’s music library is the cloud storage for musical tweets on twitter.

Here’s how one might use it: Last week I tweeted that Rick Derringer was quoted saying Internet Radio is the future of radio. Someone wrote back about Derringer’s hit song RocknRoll Hoochie Coo. So I went to ping.fm and tweeted him back the song. It seems like just the kind of social app that could get traction. It also seems like an app that radio stations could use to interact with their audiences…

Digital Hot Stuff

 

Adweek and Mediaweek released their joint Top 10 Digital Hot List this week. They picked ten sites that have a LOT of traffic, are impacting the digital space as well as our culture, and doing innovative things with ad models. Those are the things to go to school on if you ask me.

The top of the list is Google (of course), with 27% of the total online ad market in their pockets according to EMarketer. Google is so innovative and impressive in their multi-focused, non-standard approach to everything, perhaps the concern about them at this point should be why they are not paying attention to digital audio.

I’m very interested in several of the other top ten picks. Have you heard of Hulu? Been to the site? In 5 months 3.3 million people used it, and it made this Top Ten list at 4. It’s a joint venture between several tv networks that offers syndicated video content. It’s experimenting with offering joint content AND its experimenting with innovative ad models like letting viewers choose their own sponsors. They’re probably moving away from selling standard length commercials too.

The most interesting one on the list is an music based social network called Imeem. I mentioned it to someone last week who had never heard of it. While it’s not really an Internet radio station if you use a narrow enough definition of Internet radio, in my mind if you can stream music from it then it is Internet radio because it’s competing for audience. Imeem is a music site with 3.6 million registered users and a promising ad model. Music and ads, within a new and innovative platform.   Seems to be interesting to listeners…

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