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?..
Americans spend a lot of time listening to music in their cars. According to a new report by NPD Group, two out of three Americans say most of their music listening happens in cars. Most of that listening is still to radio and cds – but that appears to be changing.
The report shows that 80% of Americans listened to radio in their cars and that is a two point drop from a year ago. 53% listened to cds, which is down 4 points from a year ago. Meanwhile 29% are listening on a connected device which could be a smart phone or iTouch. That number is up 9 points from a year ago. Time spent listening with those devices has increased 9% as well.
“A tipping point is approaching when vehicles and portable devices move from a tethered connection to a more integrated one,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president and entertainment analyst for The NPD Group. “Smart devices streaming music could end up being the largest threat to CDs and broadcast radio since the dawn of digital music.”
More evidence that consumers are shifting to connected mobile devices for music. Pandora now has 70% of their audience on those mobile devices. Last week I featured a post about Mary Meeker‘s latest presentation which is all about mobile, and the way that mobile will make online audio the next big thing.
Mary Meeker is widely considered to be an expert when it comes to spotting trends online. A partner at venture capitallist firm KPCB, she was named one of the ten smartest people in tech last year by Fortune magazine. She’s a popular speaker and analyst who has a knack for spotting the next big trend in technology. Lately Ms Meeker’s specialty has been mobile and the way it is revolutionizing the way we do everything, from shopping to consuming media.
This week, speaking at Web 2.0, Meeker gave a fast talking presentation about Internet trends. In it, she predicts that the next big thing is online audio. Lots of new technologies are contributing to this emerging trend. For example, she points out that while twitter and facebook have enjoyed enormous success with their mobile apps, it’s Pandora that has the largest percentage of their audience on mobile devices.
Meeker went on to mention new technologies that are driving the new trend, including Bluetooth enabled wireless devices which permit hands free access, higher quality, more compact wireless audio speakers, connected car audio, sound recognition and understanding apps such as Apple’s new Siri, and sound creation and sharing platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify.
The presentation is chock full of great info and perspective on the promise of mobile. There’s plenty of room left for growth for smartphones, mobile ad dollars are ramping up just fine, cpms are ramping too.
What’s more, the US has taken a leadership position in new mobile technology – thanks largely to Apple and Google. Innovation in Silicon Valley has never been more rapid.
And in case you missed this point a few paragraphs ago, Mary Meeker, one of my personal favorites in the biz, said that Online Audio is the next big thing…
You can watch her presentation online here.