In a nod to the increasing share of music that is getting listened to via streaming platforms, Billboard has added a Streaming Songs Chart to its weekly listings. Last spring Billboard started charting top songs played by On Demand services, this list will cover those and add the songs played most by streaming services. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis holds the top spot on Streaming Songs with 1.45 million total streams in the U.S. Services included in the reporting are “such services as Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio, MySpace, Xbox Music and Guvera.”
The data comes from Nielsen Soundscan and Nielsen BDS data – Nielsen SoundScan measures U.S. point-of-sale of recorded music product. Nielsen BDS tracks U.S. radio airplay and music streams. Both systems power many of the Billboard charts. Nielsen recently reported that music purchases are at an all time high, up 3.1% over last year, driven by digital sales. For 2012, sales of albums and track equivalents are down slightly at -1.8% vs. 2011. Digital Albums are up 14% and Digital Tracks are up 5%. CD sales declined 13%.
Pandora meanwhile has posted a recap of sorts of last year on its blog, noting that last year listeners to Pandora created 1.6 billion stations and listened to more than a million different songs by 100,000 different artists. I’m thinking that data is probably at least as deep in terms of sample size as the stuff Nielsen is collecting…
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, 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.
The about to launch MySpace Music will offer ad-sponsored unlimited live streaming of content. Sounds like Internet radio! With record companies Sony BMG, Universal and Warner as so-called partners…
MySpace Music has announced Ad deals with several major advertisers and according to some reports (CNET, here) Jeff Berman, MySpace’s president of sales of marketing, said that “the premium advertisers paid big money, some even plunked down eight-figure sums.” He said “advertising on MySpace Music will go deeper and be much more creative than just posting some banner ads.”According to Adweek, “McDonald’s will sponsor free music downloads and have a presence among the customized tools on the MySpace Personal Music Player. State Farm’s brand will be visible throughout the site, gracing the music player and various playlists. The insurer will probably integrate its MySpace Music affiliation with its own content offering, NowWhat.com…. Toyota plans to sponsor “Toyota Tuesdays,” supporting free music downloads and rotating its ads on the music player for the next year.”
How will this impact Internet radio? One positive is that this launch will include advertising from the beginning, thus contributing to building a business model for Internet radio. I tend to think that stations that amass audience without running ads are creating an unfair playing field for the rest. I’m also an advocate of audio ads as a more effective use of the medium, and it’s unclear whether MySpace Music will run audio ads. This is something to keep an eye on since recently SoundExchange head Jon Simson said Pandora could only survive if they started running audio ads between songs. (Wired, here) So will the record companies new joint venture with MySpace follow their own advice?
In general I think the fact that a huge site like MySpace, with 120 million users, is going to offer music streams with an ad supported model is good for Internet radio. More listeners, more ads. The fact that they have already gone out and gotten some high profile advertisers is a good thing. It will be interesting to watch where they go from here.