There’s buzz and activity around podcasting these days. Podcasting isn’t new, but I think it’s become reinvigorated of late with a few players moving things forward. Organized access to content that makes it easier for listeners and producers to connect and easier for advertisers to purchase and track ads, is the force behind this new momentum.
A key company in the space is Podcast One, owned by Norm Pattiz. Founder of Westwood One, Pattiz has the know-how to build a content network, and he’s now applying that skill, and his relationships with celebs, to build a network of podcasts. Launchpad Digital Media is a sister company that sells ads for the network. According to a recent article in Bloomberg News, Podcast One hosts 200 shows in its network and averages 100 million downloads a month.
There are other players in the space as well — Earwolf is a comedy network that also offers producers the tools they need to connect with advertisers through sister company The Midroll. WNYC in New York offers a substantial suite of downloadable audio including Freakonomics hosted by author Stephen Dubner, Radiolab, and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin. Stitcher’s been around for a few years, organizing access to content and offering a mobile app that has been downloaded 12 million times, and is integrated with several car manufacturers and both IOS and Android phones.
Meanwhile, the elephant in the room when it comes to podcast networks is iTunes, which offers a huge library of downloadable audio but no monetization opportunities for the producers. Which creates a nice opportunity for the other companies who are willing to figure out the measurement and monetization piece.
We’ll be discussing that aspect of podcasting, and a lot more at RAIN Summit NYC on February 5th in New York City on a panel called “The Download on Podcasts.”
The all new RAIN News site has launched, and I’m sure you will want to check it out and then use your social media tools to tell your friends about it. There’s a new url, a new site, and a lot more content there which will be updated throughout the day.
In North America, mobile advertising revenues grew 111% from 2011 to 2012, while at the same time netting 83% growth globally. Growth in Asia just slightly outpaced North America during the same period. Contributing factors to the growth are easy to identify – widespread smartphone adoption and more time spent on mobile devices, along with increasingly better monetization of mobile ad services.
Mobile ad services are figuring out better ways to optimize the advertising experience for advertisers. This is obviously the key to growing revenue. Something that Apple understands, as they are about to launch iTunes Radio as an ad supported platform. So here’s what I would do if I were in charge of monetizing that platform.
- iTunes has 500 million users across the globe. Those users are mobile, and they like to consume content, mostly music. But over the past few years they have decided that they don’t have to own that music, they’re happy to stream it instead.
- iTunes also has lots of information on those users – who they are, where they live, what devices they use, how old they are, and what they like to watch and listen to. That’s the stuff that advertisers really want. But that’s not the holy grail.
- iTunes has a credit card on file for all those users. Because they buy songs, video and apps from the ITunes store already. So if you are an advertiser, and you are selling something online, how would you like to sell it in Apple’s store, where users can purchase it with just one click? Sure, you’ll pay them something for that, but it’ll be worth it because it makes it so easy for the customer.
That’s how I think Apple could revolutionize mobile ad monetization…
As iTunes announces their streaming radio service to launch this fall, Pandora continues to make deals that put their service in the dashboard, where they can continue to expand audience. According to wsj.com yesterday, Pandora will be available and installed in one-third of new cars sold in the US this year.
That impressive stat brings the streaming service a lot of new listeners – Pandora says they have seen more than 2.5 million unique activations through integrations from the 23 major automotive brands and eight aftermarket manufacturers they are installed with.
Meanwhile, the popularity of streaming and the connected dashboard is not being overlooked by Sirius XM. Despite deals that already have their satellite service installed in a long list of vehicles. Sirius XM has been improving its streaming offering of late, and just announced a deal with Ford that will pair both its satellite and online radio offerings in new Ford cars with Sync AppLink.
Meanwhile, tuner platforms like TuneIn and Aha Radio both have integration deals with auto manufacturers as well, and folks like me connect just using their smartphones. Audio options in the car are expanding, and the big services have taken note. Is the next new thing an iTunes radio in your dashboard? If so, it will likely be one that will sync with your iPhone…
I’ve been away on vacation for the past week and a half or so – a vacation where I barely got online and didn’t check my email at all. After the first few days, it was surprisingly easy to do, and very relaxing. It turns out, last week was a big news week for Internet radio, with Apple giving the first preview of it’s nicknamed iradio product, and Pandora purchasing an FM station in Rapid City, South Dakota. I spent my first day back reading a lot and trying to get some perspective on both announcements.
iTunes Radio, it appears, will simply be Apple’s entry into the space, long awaited. After reading about it and talking to a few developers who have seen the interface, I guess it’s an Apple-esque, graphically interesting web radio interface that does the same things that Pandora does. Not a lot of innovation, but a well done product – possibly less than I would have expected from Apple, since I’m aware they have been actively working on this entry into the markeplace for at least a year and a half, when they contacted me.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there will be innovation with this product, and I’m hopeful that it will expand the marketplace for everyone. According to one thing that I read, Apple is planning to sell ads on its streaming radio platform using iAd, its mobile ad business. Consider that Apple knows about its users, which provides for effective targeting, and has a credit card on file for each one of them, which most of them are accustomed to using already to purchase songs and apps. That’s a system that could translate to expansive online revenues for lots of advertisers.
I don’t think Apple will mean a lot of trouble for Pandora, although certainly they will begin to share audience. Pandora’s got a large user base and a lot of happy customers. They may lose some share, but the number of people using Internet radio will continue to grow, and they’ll still gain listeners. Meanwhile, they’ll benefit from another major player in the marketplace who will help build advertiser investment. Look at it this way: it would appear that Apple’s game is to solve the conundrum of how to monetize the mobile audience, in particular the streaming audio mobile audience. I’d say that’s good news for the industry.
New York Public Radio is setting the standard for excellent online content creation these days with a slew of interesting, high quality new programs. Some, such as Radiolab, rank in the top ten most downloaded podcasts on iTunes, while others offer a remarkable host of guests and really great content that other broadcasters would do well to take a look at.
While there’s often debate about the quality of broadcasters’ online content offerings, such is not the case at WNYC.org. Each week, Alec Baldwin hosts Here’s The Thing, a weekly talk show in which Baldwin interviews well known and interesting people such as Billy Joel, George Will, David Letterman, Peter Frampton, Herb Alpert, Kathleen Turner – the list is interesting and impressive, as is the show.
WNYC also produces and airs Radiolab – the podcast of that program ranks third in the iTunes list of most downloaded podcasts. The show is so popular they even charge $2.99 for their mobile app. All of the programming that WNYC creates also becomes part of the NPR portfolio of content, along with content created by other stations such as All Things Considered, This American Life and Morning Edition.
It’s not news that NPR does an excellent job offering excellent news and talk programming to its audience. It’s an impressive online offering that would challenge anyone’s idea that podcasting is dead. As NPR could tell you, it’s alive and well on their platform…
When my daughter, who is 17, wants to hear a song, she doesn’t turn to radio. Nor does she go to Spotify or Pandora. YouTube is her on-demand streaming service. A new study out from Nielsen says she is not alone. More teens listen to music on YouTube (64%) than radio (56%), iTunes (53%) and CD (50%).
Radio is still the primary machine for music discovery across all ages, but it looks like this study does not try to restrict the definition of “radio” to AM/FM.
The new Nielsen report offers insights on all aspects of music consumption including listening and purchasing behaviors; music discovery; live events; the use of social networking and mobile music apps; as well as how the economy is affecting music sales.
“The accessibility of music has seen tremendous expansion and diversification,” said David Bakula, SVP Client Development, Nielsen. “While younger listeners opt for technologically advanced methods , traditional methods of discovery like radio and word-of-mouth continue to be strong drivers. With so many ways to purchase, consume and discover great new music, it’s no wonder that the consumer continues to access and enjoy music in greater numbers.”
One of the takeaways of this study is that radio is a music discovery machine — curated programs and personalized streams work well for helping people find new music. But once they find it, they are inclined — especially teens – to turn to YouTube where they can WATCH it. When it comes to on-demand streaming, YouTube is (still) the elephant in the room…
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, Cars.com 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..
Coldplay released a new album this week and didn’t license subscription services such as Spotify to play it, a strategy that is raising concern for on-demand services. There’s been a debate brewing about the wisdom of offering brand new releases through on-demand subscription services and whether that has an impact on song and album sales.
After withholding their new album Mylo Xyloto from Spotify, Coldplay sold more digital albums that ever before in the UK – something that doesn’t bode well for on-demand services like Spotify. DMN reports that Coldplay sold more than 200,000 units in the UK alone, 40% of which were digital sales. Figures from US sales were not yet available.
Services like Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody and MOG offer on demand song plays for a monthly subscription fee. But artists have been unhappy with the payouts from these services, and some are removing their new albums, or even their entire catalog from the playlists of some streaming services.
In a story on this topic, CNET quoted artist and indie label owner Sam Rosenthal pointing out that 5000 song plays on Spotify would earn him $6.50. An artist would earn $.20 per song download on iTunes, or $1000 for the same number of song sales.
But does an on demand song play on Spotify replace a song download? That’s a good question and one that no one can really answer. In the CNET article, Jon Irwin of Rhapsody claims that rather than cannibalizing song sales, on demand services are cannibalizing piracy – that inexpensive subscription services appeal to the younger listener who used to download all their music illegally and now pay a monthly fee instead.
Unfortunately, higher song sales for Coldplay after holding back their new album from Spotify doesn’t help on demand services make that point…
Last thursday during an earnings call Pandora reported $67 million in revenues, a 117% increase over a year ago. They also reported impressive increases in listening – 1.8 billion listening hours, an increase of 125% over a year earlier. The report was the new public company’s first quarterly earnings report and it reported on earnings delivered during its fiscal Q2 – which ended in July.
This was a sturdy earnings report in the face of investment banker expectations that expected to see a report of $60 million in revenues.
The company also reported that mobile ad revenues accounted for approximately half of all ad revenues. This was good news as analysts have been focusing on Pandora’s ability to monetize an audience that is rapidly shifting to mobile device listening. During the call there were many followup questions regarding Pandora’s ability to monetize its mobile audience. Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy said that they have found that most mobile ads are part of “multi platform” ad campaigns, and that Pandora is optimistic that they will be able to leverage more and more of those dollars.
Kennedy also spoke about Pandora’s increasing ability to monetize audio at the local, regional and national levels. He said that while they were seeing audio ads from national ad campaigns, they are now expanding their base and developing audio based revenues from local and regional sources.
To a question about the revenues they are seeing from song download revenue sharing with iTunes and Amazon, Kennedy revealed that Pandora is one of the top 3 biggest link sources to iTunes. He said that is strong evidence that listeners are discovering music and purchasing it after hearing it on Pandora.
So, as the experts from RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter pointed out in their analysis on friday, Pandora had a strong 2Q earnings call where they managed to exceed revenue expectations and offer some excellent prospects for continued growth.
eMusic has always had a slightly left of center approach to selling digital downloads. eMusic offers music consumers the opportunity to pay a monthly subscription fee for access to their song catalogs and download a certain number of songs per month – $12 bucks gets you 24 songs, $32 bucks a month allows you to download up to 73 songs a month. That’s a lot of music for a pretty good price – certainly a lot cheaper than your average iTunes song.
They used to be primarily focused on independent labels, lacking the deals to add the big four record label’s music to their catalog. But that has changed in the last couple of years and now eMusic has deals with all four. They also started selling audiobooks a few years back as well.
Now they are launching genre based Internet radio streams as well. Join the club! According to Billboard, eMusic will offer streams of music curated by eMusic’s editorial staff. There are a wide variety of offerings from punk and alt-country to electronica and “fresh jazz”. Streams are available to eMusic U.S. subscribers for free for up to ten hours of listening per month. Non-subscribers may get to try them out soon as well.
So eMusic wants to take on Pandora and Spotify? I doubt it. It sounds like eMusic – and perhaps the labels it’s partnered with as well – are noticing that streaming has a positive effect on music purchases. They’re planning to add a buy button to the player, and they certainly have the buy in of their record label partners. Though it hasn’t been quantified in a while, I’ve seen data out there that shows Pandora selling lots of songs for iTunes and Amazon to their listeners.