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.
There is a growing number of artists who are taking their music promotion directly to their fans by offering streaming access to it online. Why not – it’s a great way to give people a sample – and if they like what they hear they might buy a song, share it online, or buy a ticket to a live performance.
Singer songwriter Ryan Adams‘ latest album Ashes and Fire went on sale this week. For the past few weeks, listeners could sample songs or listen to the entire album online at NPR Music, SoundCloud, or at the Ashes and Fire website.
Some might think he’s crazy, offering his entire album upfront for all to hear. How on earth will he sell albums? In fact, I think Adams and a growing number of artists understand that the formula for selling songs has changed, and restricting access to your songs isn’t the way to get folks to buy your music. Instead, offer a listen to everyone. In fact, offer them the chance to hear your whole album! If they like it, do you think they’ll be satisfied with returning to the website every time they want to hear it? Of course not – they’ll buy it, or the songs they like from it. And maybe they’ll come see a show as well.
Fred Wilson apparently thinks it’s a good year to invest in streaming audio and has announced investments in two companies this week as an indication of this. His company Union Square Ventures just is heading up an $8 million funding round for digital audio advertising company TargetSpot. Other investors in that group include CBSRadio, Bain Capital Ventures and Milestone Venture Partners. It’s not Union Square‘s first money in Targetspot, nor for CBSRadio or Bain.
Wilson’s Union Square Ventures also announced an investment in Berlin based Soundcloud, which bills itself as the YouTube for audio. According to Soundcloud founder Alexander Lyung, the site had a million registered users last spring and 2.6 million by the end of the year, so it’s growing pretty fast.
“There has not been a wildly popular open audio sharing platform with simple APIs like YouTube and Vimeo in video, Facebook and Flickr in photos, Blogger and WordPress in long form text, and Twitter in short form text/link sharing.” says Wilson in his blog. “We think SoundCloud is on its way to becoming that wildly popular open platform for audio expression and sharing on the web and mobile devices. A few months ago, Union Square Ventures… invested in SoundCloud and I have joined the Board.”
Wilson is a guy that likes his music. He puts songs he likes on his daily blog, along with quotes and pictures. He also has a radio station you can stream, fredwilson.fm . Mostly, I think he’s a guy that thinks a lot about music and the Internet, and right now he’s thinking it’s a good investment…