AOL Music announced, or at least its laid off employees announced on friday afternoon that it will shut down. Shortly after that, AOL Radio’s twitter account explained that the streaming service operated by Slacker would not be shutting down. The shut down encompasses the main site that offers free music videos, song lyrics, downloads, and music news and includes sites Noisecreep (hard rock and heavy metal); The Boot (country); The Boombox (hip hop/R&B); as well as Spinner and AOL Music.
AOL Radio and reportedly Shoutcast will survive the cuts. In June of 2011 AOL Radio paired up with Slacker in a deal that moved their channels into Slacker’s portal of offerings. Slacker picked up the traffic and also the costs of streaming those channels.
Shoutcast, which AOL acquired back in the late 90s, is another story entirely. That portal gives bandwidth to more than 50,000 global stations. They have a very large audience and are quite possibly the biggest streaming portal online. (It’s never been clear to me what the business model is for Shoutcast, but that’s another story.)
AOL has certainly been through changes, struggling to retain or regain brand prominence in recent years. In 2011 they bought Huffington Post and have placed more emphasis on becoming a top notch news portal. AOL Music is likely a victim of that transition.
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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:
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.
Arbitron has announced a deal with Euorpean based online audio ad serving and measurement company Adswizz which signals their intention to return to server based streaming audience measurement. During an earnings call, EVP/COO Sean Creamer reported that Arbitron signed an agreement with Adswizz last week.
“AdsWizz will process the server-based, streaming log files exclusively for our planned digital radio service. This collaboration is designed to help us to realize our vision for providing standard reporting metrics for over the air and digital streaming audiences on behalf of our current radio broadcast customers and for digital music service clients. We are currently working with both our radio station clients and the digital service providers to develop the first report deliverables.”
Arbitron departed from server based streaming audio measurement when it purchased and subsequently shuttered Measurecast in 2004. Earlier this year they announced a plan to develop a comprehensive streaming audio measurement solution. A server based streaming audio measurement solution would put Arbitron in direct competition with Triton Digital’s Webcast Metrics, which currently measures services including Pandora, iHeartradio, Slacker, CBSRadio, AccuRadio and others.
Creamer’s announcement also promises a solution for current radio broadcast customers and digital music service clients. While it may seem obvious that the only way to produce a credible streaming measurement platform is to include both streaming broadcast and online only services, I had heard rumors that some of the broadcast clients of Arbitron were opposed to a solution that included online services like Pandora and Slacker. I’m hoping everyone has come to their senses on this point.
Competition in audience measurement of streaming can only be a good thing as it will encourage continued development of each solution’s capabilities. It’s also a good sign of a thriving industry…
The latest Webcast Metrics audience reports are out for August 2011, and the lineup of stations on the ranker remains pretty much the same. Pandora sits atop with nearly half a million session starts. Below them, CBSRadio’s network of streams has 58 million session starts and Clear Channel’s group of streams has 54 million. Citadel, Slacker, Entercom, Cox, ESPNRadio, Cox, Digitally Imported and EMF round out the list of top ten streaming networks. Cumulus is in the 11th position – look for that group to combine with Citadel in the coming months now that the Cumulus purchase of Citadel is done.
This month, for variety I have decided to look at session starts and tsl instead of AAS. Pandora is holding steady at a tsl of .80 – meaning that was the average duration of the nearly 500 million session starts that they saw last month. Pandora’s tsl is shorter than Clear Channel’s and CBSRadio’s, though not by a lot. Slacker’s is .69. Topping the ranker in terms of length of listening session are Salem, Hubbard and AccuRadio.
At The Radio Show last month, RAB president Jeff Haley remarked in his opening speech that Pandora’s audience claims aren’t fair because they’re not using a cume number that represents unique listeners. That numbers of sessions, duration of sessions and tsl don’t tell the story of how many individuals the platform is reaching. This is a valid point – Webcast Metrics rankers do provide data useful for comparing the services against each other and for determining impression based advertising values, but the data does not give an accurate picture of the number of unique individuals that a station reaches.
Determining uniques shouldn’t be a difficult data point for server based audience measurement, although I’m thinking that each device a person listens on would have to be a unique. That could then be factored by the average number of devices a person uses if a buyer wanted to get a truer representation of the station’s cume.
I’m all for transparency and this seems like a good point to pursue. Here’s the ranker:
RAIN Summit Chicago on tuesday was an incredible event – in my opinion the best one ever. It was very well attended by and the agenda was packed full of interesting people. I could have spent several more hours at the cocktail party connecting with them all.
The highlight of the day – no slight intended to any of our wonderful speakers – was the keynote speech given by Tim Westergren. I found him to be insightful, geniune, inclusive and generous. Tim started his speech by thanking Kurt Hanson for all that he has done for the industry by creating RAIN Summits. He offered a toast to everyone in the room who has been involved in nurturing Internet radio, and he said he is excited about the prospects not just for his company, but also for their “colleague companies” in the space. That’s how a leader talks..
Tim then went on to share a lot of inside info about Pandora with the audience. He started out by telling everyone that he believes the future of radio is Internet radio and in particular personalizable Internet radio. He talked about all the valuable data they get from interacting with their listeners and told a story about how Pandora can use that data. Like the time they packed a club in LA for an Aimee Mann performance by telling all the folks who lived within an hour radius who had clicked “thumbs up” on an Aimee Mann song that she was going to be playing nearby. To further illustrate his point, he mentioned an obscure artist from Waukegan, Illinois named Jason Michael Carroll who had a local gig coming up. Pandora can find all the listeners who clicked thumbs up for that artist and live in the area (5300), and then look for other similar sounding artists and people who liked those artists and live nearby, and tell all of them about Jason’s show, and really impact the way an artist can grow its audience.
Of course, it’s not hard to recognize the value that sort of relationship with listeners can have on advertising as well, and Westergren spent time talking about the progress that Pandora has made in generating revenue. He listed lots of major ad agencies and advertisers who are now buying ads on Pandora and talked about specific ways they have produced strong results.
It was a little disappointing to read some of the trade coverage of Tim’s speech the next morning. I noticed that a couple of publications, despite all the consensus building remarks that Tim made, simply had to portray Westergren’s speech as an attack on radio. It was not that at all. In an informed and informative speech, Westergren shared a lot of details about the success of Pandora. And in my opinion, he spoke to the audience as a fellow radio guy, confident and excited about his product and sharing info as every speaker at The Radio Show will do this week.
If there was a threat, warning or shot across the bow in that speech, it was only a perception by those in the audience who refuse to acknowledge that the definition of radio has changed and now includes Pandora, Slacker and other digital audio platforms. Clearly advertisers have begun to see it that way as well. Closing the windows, locking the doors and arguing that it’s not so will not change that reality…
Here’s the first half of the speech. The second half is also available on YouTube. I’m President of RAIN Summits and am admittedly less than impartial..
Triton Digital has reported, via Inside Radio, that on average about half (51%) of a streaming broadcast station’s audience is outside its Designated Market Area (DMA). In fact, according to Triton COO Mike Agovino, quoted in the article, the larger the market, the higher the percentage of out of market listening. He says a lot of the out of DMA listening is from nearby markets, such as listening in Connecticut to New York stations’ streams.
The problem is, few stations are separating their in-market versus out-market audiences when they are selling to advertisers or when they are counting up delivered impressions. In fact, most national streaming ad campaigns are targeted geographically based on choosing call letters in the markets that the advertiser wants to target, according to the article in Inside Radio, which checked in with Eyal Goldwerger, CEO of Targetspot and Brian Benedik, president of Katz360. If national advertisers are buying streaming ads on broadcast stations and believe they’re geotargeting by doing so, that’s a problem, since this new info from Triton reports that only half the people who hear the ads are in that market.
Since online stations like Pandora and Slacker are registering their listeners, they have actual impression by impression geotargetability. Advertisers that are measuring the results of their campaigns are going to see an improved return by those stations and that will drive the price up for them. Broadcasters that stream and fail to improve their targeting capabilities will see the opposite.
The reality is that targeted ads are good for the station, the listener and the advertiser. Listener registration lies at the center of ad targeting capabilities. Pandora, Slacker, CBSRADIO, iHeartRadio, and others have been registering their listeners for a long time because they understand that the game has changed and targetability is essential to an ad based streaming audio ad model.
Triton Digital has released its ranker of the top 20 stations or networks measured within its Webcast Metrics audience measurement platform for May. At the top of the ranker, Pandora picked up another 30,000 or so Average Active Sessions, some of this a result of missing data from the last several months, which had been noted in previous data releases.
Other services were fairly stable, with CBSRadio losing a little in their AAS and Clear Channel picking up a few thousand. We’ll see a bigger loss assigned to CBSRadio in the coming months as the AOL audience number moves onto the Slacker platform and becomes part of that number. Slacker has said that their number will benefit by doubling with the addition of AOL’s measured audience. On their own, they have actually been losing a little ground on the ranker, their AAS dropped about a thousand from last month and roughly two thousand from March.
I’ve begun to think that a monthly microscope on each station or services ups and downs is overkill, so I’m reluctant to recite the minor changes that occur with every new data release. I think what’s more interesting is growth over several months and trending as it relates to big changes (like the AOL shift from CBSRadio to Slacker.)
I’m also hoping to see more and more information on listening patterns – how much is on a desktop versus mobile within these audiences? Where is the audience concentrated in terms of dayparts as well as geography? And what’s the universe looking like? I’m hoping that we’ll see more and more of that as the Webcast Metrics service matures and measures more and more of the Internet radio landscape..
AARP, with the help of Concord Music Group and Slacker, has launched a compliment of streaming music channels designed to help adults find the music they love in the digital age. AARP Internet Radio, a free music player provided by Slacker, features 18 free streaming channels of handpicked music catering to the musical tastes of Americans age 50+ and is the initiative’s centerpiece. Its aim: to make enjoying music intuitive and fun—especially for people who have been largely underserved by conventional music sources.
AARP serves a distinctly older portion of the population but is hardly just for retired persons – anyone over 50 is eligible to join. They reportedly have over 40 million members who join to enjoy benefits and support their collective efforts on the behalf of older Americans.
And they are now encouraging their listeners to enjoy Internet radio! Visitors to the AARP website can open AARP Internet Radio in a separate window displaying the music player and a list of stations to choose from. Users will have the option to play, pause or skip songs, and easily change stations. Slacker has apparently created a “simplified radio player” to make it easy and attractive for folks unfamiliar with online radio to give it a try.
AARP’s music site also features lots of news and information for music fans, as well as chat rooms. Mobile apps are in the plans as well.
This is a great idea, and a big win not just for Slacker, Concord Music and AARP but for Internet radio as well. Who better to drive new listeners online than AARP? I love it…