Tag Archives: streaming

Membership Has Its Benefits

npr hatA few weeks ago I was driving in my car listening to NPR during a pledge drive. As I listened to the announcer hawk mugs and even special solar/crank powered radios in exchange for signing up for a monthly “pledge” and heard him referring to donors as members, I realized that public radio is actually selling subscriptions, but calling it something else.

As we know, NPR is an audio service supported by its members (as well as some other revenue sources). In 2011, which was the most recent year I could find info for – NPR received an average weekly donation of just under ten bucks per listener per week. (That’s the total $ amount of pledges divided by listeners and weeks.)

While Pandora One and Spotify struggle to get users to pay less than $10 a month for their service, NPR manages just fine, netting 4 times that per listener.

Why is NPR is so successful at getting listeners to pay for programming? For one thing, they don’t call them subscription fees. Instead, they call them pledges – a far more honorable term, and they make every listener who donates a member, and send them a hat or a mug. It’s a clever marketing approach!

What else are they doing that online audio subscription services can do as well? Well, for one, they hold annoying on-air pledge drives, where they stop the programming, not for a few short commercials, but for highly intrusive on-air begging by personalities. It’s really obnoxious, and it works. Listeners respond.

Other tactics that NPR uses to extract donations – err, I mean pledges – from its listeners include bribery (as in the mug, hat, or solar powered radio mentioned above), flattery (our listeners like you are so smart), making listeners feel guilty, and – this is the best one – threatening to continue the on-air fundraising tirade unless everyone calls in with pledges right away.

So what can subscription services learn from NPR? I think the membership approach is a good one – remember the old American Express campaign “Membership has its privileges?” Creating a strong brand that people want to associate themselves with, and then selling that association – that seems to be a formula that works for public radio and a strategy subscription services may want to go to school on…

 

 

Big Data Is Smart Data For Online Audio

The streaming marketplace is becoming increasingly segmented, with big new brands like iTunes Radio and Beats Music competing with Pandora, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Rdio and a multitude of others for listener’s ears. Many of the streaming services offer similar options – personalized song recommendations based on a listener’s likes and dislikes, playlist building, social features, etc.. Some offer on-demand song plays as well.

Big data – the term used for collections of data that are so big that special processing is needed in order to use it – is a key component of these customized listening features. Services like Pandora, with 200 million registered users, collect information from listeners that includes their age, location, and gender. That basic information is useful for targeted ad campaigns. But there’s a lot more to big data than that – and that’s the stuff that music personalization is made of. Each time you like or dislike a song, skip an artist, type in an artist’s name, that’s more information that can be processed.

Key to effective use of big data are services that specialize in processing that information. Companies like The Echo Nest (recently sold to Spotify) and Gracenote (owned by Tribune Company) work with many of the platforms, creating data sets that enable Pandora, Spotify and others to better understand their listeners.

Big data processing is important on the advertising side as well. Companies like Pandora and iHeartRadio employ their own fleet of programmers to keep their data proprietary and make it understandable and useful. Third party providers like Triton Digital work with many companies to process their data and create identifiable audience characteristics.

Using a combination of zip code analysis and an individual’s music tastes, Pandora has begun creating audience profiles based on political affiliation. Exploring similarities between music choices and movie preferences, The Echo Nest concluded, among other things, that “if you like crime movies, you most probably enjoy listening to Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, The Who, Bob Dylan, and Pink Floyd in that order.”

From selling tickets to the Carole King musical “Beautiful” on Broadway by targeting listeners who like her music, to selling flowers for Mother’s day to guys of a certain age who tune in to kid programming so their kids can listen, it’s exciting to think about the possibilities that big data can offer to streaming audio.

 

 

Are Your Listeners For Sale?

Earlier this week, RAINNews reported that an FM station in Boston – WKLB – is running spots for iTunes Radio. The spots are live reads, done by radio station personalities, and they sound like this.

When asked, the station, owned by Greater Media, issued some statement that kind of sounded like: “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” This doesn’t seem like an especially well thought out strategy for a company that owns a bunch of nicely branded radio stations with loyal listeners. Apparently, the requirements for the ad campaign from iTunes Radio included guaranteeing first in a commercial stop-set placement, and live reads (also known as endorsements) by radio station personalities.

The first time I listened to the live ad, I could barely believe my ears. I played it for  my husband (who is not in the industry), and he couldn’t believe it either. A radio station personality literally encouraging its listeners to listen to something else, going on and on about how great it is!

Years ago, I worked at WTIC AM in Hartford, one of the best AM radio stations in the country. At one point, that radio station’s morning show with Bob Steele had a 60 share of the market. When I worked there, Steele was retired, and we ONLY had about a 20 share in morning drive. We charged a lot of money for those spots, and live reads went for a huge premium, because we understood the value of them. Live endorsements by radio station personalities are very effective. So I’m guessing that iTunes is paying a lot for these spots.

Yesterday Edison Research and Triton Digital did an initial webinar release of their Infinite Dial update. iTunes Radio makes its debut in the study, having launched just last fall. And they’re off to an impressive start, with 8% of persons 12+ in the US saying they listened in the past month.

And that’s before broadcast personalities started telling their audiences how swell it is…

 

Almost All New Cars Will Be Connected In Five Years

By the end of this decade, 93% of new cars will offer streaming music as part of the built in entertainment system. That’s the prediction of new research out from ABI Research in the UK, which forecasts that global shipments of streaming music enabled automotive infotainment systems will top 66 million by the end of 2019.

The study says that Digital and HD Radio formats will never scale to replace FM, and auto manufacturers will continue to include FM receivers in cars for many years. But listening to FM will gradually be replaced by streaming radio and music services as more and more cars become connected.connected dashboard

Car manufacturers know that in car entertainment systems are important to consumers, particularly younger ones. The race to integrate connected dashboard technology is on. As carmakers search for innovative platforms to call their own, fragmentation is high at this early stage. Streaming services like Pandora, iHeartradio and Spotify, looking for ubiquity, must integrate with each platform individually, an expensive challenge.

The impact of connected dashboards on the future of radio is high. A connected driver can receive highly targeted messages based on what they are driving, and where they are located, offering greatly enhanced value to advertisers, and higher net cpms for the music services.

We’ll be discussing all of the developments, challenges, and impacts that the connected dashboard presents for our industry, with George Lynch, VP Automotive Biz Dev at Pandora; Michael Bergman, Senior Director, CEA; Jake Sigal, Founder, Livio; and other smart folks at RAIN Summit West on Sunday April 6th in Las Vegas. Join us and become part of the amazing buzz surrounding our industry at our biggest event of the year. Early registration rates end soon.

The Key to iTunes’ Success

iTunes now has 500 million users worldwide who spend approximately $40 a year on content, according to analysis produced by Horace Dediu of Asymco. Apple users meanwhile spend about $1 a day per device on content, meaning that each time Apple sells a device they can count on 11% annually from that device/user.

Music download sales from the iTunes store are declining however, while other content – mainly apps, are taking a larger share of user dollars. The main reason for this is that 5 years ago, most folks were just getting their first smartphone, and were actively using a device called an iPod to carry around their music. Remember those days, when you bought music and updated your iPod all the time, plugged it in to your car, listened to it while exercising? Now, you use your smartphone and connect to Pandora instead, right? (Or Spotify, iHeart, or whatever). asymco itunes chart

Yep, no doubt the iPhone had an impact on iPod sales as well as song sales, and very soon iRadio will have further impact. Apple is not afraid to look into the crystal ball, see the future, and cannibalize one product with the next big one. And a few years back they saw the Pandora app take off like wildfire in their very own iTunes app store as every new user downloaded the app onto their phone, and they decided that they had better get into the streaming game. Are you as willing to cannibalize your comfort zone in the face of future trends?

Pandora’s Audience, Awareness Up

Last week Pandora announced a significant milestone when they reached 200 million registered listeners. The fact that the number of registered listeners leapt from 100 million to 200 million in two years makes it still more impressive. Remember, Pandora’s user base is largely in the US, although they have recently expanded to a few other places such as Australia.

During a presentation last week at RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas, hundreds in the audience got a first look at updated trends in Infinite Dial 2013. Arbitron SVP Bill Rose and Edison Research President Larry Rosin offered some stats on Pandora, which has an impressive brand awareness recognition rate of 69% among adults 12+ in the US, a number that grew 10% since last year’s study. iHeartradio showed impressive brand awareness in the new study as well, with 45% brand recognition, a jump of almost 15% since last year.

pandora brand awareness

The study also reported that close to half of the folks surveyed had downloaded the Pandora app onto their cellphone. This fact reveals the steam engine driving both the growth in audience and brand awareness for industry leader Pandora – their amazing success with mobile apps. As usage of smartphones and tablets has soared, Pandora’s been right out there in front, gaining front page status on those devices. 21% of cell phone owners now saying they have used their phone to listen to a stream in their car, yet another indication of the growing importance of mobile devices.

We’ll be discussing mobile devices, connected cars and a lot more again on May 23 in Brussels at RAIN Summit Europe. Have you registered? Hope to see you there!

Painting The Town Spotify Green

The competitive landscape of online music services had a busy week, with everyone out and about in Austin at SXSW wooing press and fans. Just 3 months after announcing that they had reached 5 million subscribers globally, Spotify announced this week that they now have 6 million paying subscribers, and declared themselves the fastest growing music service ever. Their presence in Austin featured a house, painted Spotify green, where they hosted live bands.

Spotify's big green house #sxsw

Rdio announced this week that they are expanding to still more countries. Their service, which new subscribers can hear ad-free for the first six months, is now available in United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Sweden and Brazil, in addition to the US.

Pandora hosted a “Discovery Den” that featured many well known artists, some of which also made an appearance at iHeartRadio‘s SXSW party. Rhapsody had a party, and hosted a panel as well: ‘Streaming Music: A River of Cash or up the Creek.’ The panel will bring together perspectives from all sides of the issue to examine what roles streaming music services can play for artists today and in the future. Hats off to them for that.

Streaming Music On Smartphones Is Popular

Smartphone users like to use the devices to listen to music, and that’s a trend that is on the upswing, according to new information from NPD Group. 56% of smartphone users listen to music on their devices, with 39% of them doing that daily. Of those, they mostly listen to Internet radio (65%), but also stream on demand services like Spotify or Rhapsody (30%) and listen to their own music (it’s not clear whether it’s on the device or streamed from a cloud service) as well.

Music listening on mobile devices extends to tablets as well, with 40% of tablet users listening to music on those devices.

Ovi Music - on the go

Ovi Music – on the go (Photo credit: Nokia RSA)

The Audio Consumption study done by NPD Group also observes that hardware of products that enhance wireless local playback of streaming services on mobile devices, like wireless speakers and headphones, are growing as a result of this trend. “With both local music storage and the ability to connect to any number of online music services, tablets and smartphones are actually contributing to a net increase in their owner’s use of internet radio and personal music collections,” said Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis at NPD.  “As a result, we are seeing sales growth in products that compliment playback on mobile devices, particularly those that feature wireless local streaming.” Wireless streaming speaker sales more than tripled in 2012, and wireless headphones grew by 34 percent.

NPD Group’s Russ Crupnick is a featured speaker at the upcoming RAIN Summit West on Sunday April 7th at the Las Vegas Hotel. For more information and to register, click here.

Streaming Music On Smartphones Is Popular

Smartphone users like to use the devices to listen to music, and that’s a trend that is on the upswing, according to new information from NPD Group. 56% of smartphone users listen to music on their devices, with 39% of them doing that daily. Of those, they mostly listen to Internet radio (65%), but also stream on demand services like Spotify or Rhapsody (30%) and listen to their own music (it’s not clear whether it’s on the device or streamed from a cloud service) as well.

 

Music listening on mobile devices extends to tablets as well, with 40% of tablet users listening to music on those devices.

 

Ovi Music - on the go

Ovi Music – on the go (Photo credit: Nokia RSA)

 

The Audio Consumption study done by NPD Group also observes that hardware of products that enhance wireless local playback of streaming services on mobile devices, like wireless speakers and headphones, are growing as a result of this trend. “With both local music storage and the ability to connect to any number of online music services, tablets and smartphones are actually contributing to a net increase in their owner’s use of internet radio and personal music collections,” said Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis at NPD.  “As a result, we are seeing sales growth in products that compliment playback on mobile devices, particularly those that feature wireless local streaming.” Wireless streaming speaker sales more than tripled in 2012, and wireless headphones grew by 34 percent.

 

NPD Group’s Russ Crupnick is a featured speaker at the upcoming RAIN Summit West on Sunday April 7th at the Las Vegas Hotel. For more information and to register, click here.

 

SiriusXM Plays Defense With MySXM

siriusWhile the connected dashboard is a concept that holds lots of promise for streaming stations, it’s no secret that it poses a point of concern for platforms that already own the dashboard real estate – like broadcast and satellite. Last year Sirius XM added 2 million net subscribers, and a lot of those came from folks who bought cars with the product already installed. That’s a big source of new audience for Sirius XM. While the streaming industry is busy declaring victory with every new car that integrates Pandora, iHeartRadio, Aha or TuneIn, Sirius is busy thinking about protecting its turf from the new dashboard.

Enter MySXM, the satellite company’s streaming option for listeners. CEO Jim Meyers  positions the new streaming platform as a defensive move, pointing out that SiriusXM will have an advantage by offering both satellite and IP options in the dashboard. “Listeners also don’t need to constantly lean forward to create a tailored listening experience. They can just tune to the music channels they already like and adjust the channel’s unique slider controls and set them once for good or change them any time they want….This new feature will further enhance our IP offering, which has been greatly improved over the past year and now includes the ability to time shift up to five hours on many stations, start songs at the beginning when tuning to a music channel and the ability to play thousands of hours of talk and entertainment from over 300 shows from our library of on-demand content.

Though there is no official launch date for MySXM yet, information from the call yesterday was that the platform will be available across all platforms and devices.

 

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