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.
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.
NPR has been making a name for itself as an online platform for streaming music – and doing a nice job of it. Their First Listen series has debuted music by artists like Norah Jones, David Lynch, Shaangan Electro (new wave dance music from Africa), Herbie Hancock, Bettye LaVette, The National, Josh Ritter, and David Byrne. Are you getting the idea of the diversity and stature of the list? Seems like everyone wants to debut their new tunes on NPR Music…
The number of people coming to the site continues to increase, to about 1.7 million unique users in May.
The platform has provided listeners with excellent front seat coverage of big music festivals like Bonnaroo and SXSW. Kinsey Wilson, NPR’s general manager of digital media told the NY Times that since the music site went live in 2007, its staff has “provided a hub where things can originate,”. Wilson says the site expands on the reputation that NPR has for helping folks find unusual things they might not otherwise come across.
The new app enables listeners to easily listen to music by genre, build playlists, and purchases songs. On new iPhones, listeners can do all of this in the background while multitasking. It’s another in a long list of great digital tools that NPR continues to develop – NPR’s digital platform has been leading broadcasters who are looking to extend and expand their brand online…
South By Southwest, the legendary music festival in Austin Texas, has in recent years also become an interactive festival, and a magnet for new digital and social media . This year, Pepsi is sponsoring Internet radio station BlogTalkRadio, as they broadcast live from the festival.
Global Director of Digital and Social Media for Pepsi Bonin Bough talked about Pepsi’s reasons for being at SXSW and sponsoring BlogTalkRadio. South By Southwest is a festival that has cultivated its image with digital and social media content creators. It’s hugely attended by cutting edge social media players. According to Bough, Pepsi’s sponsorship is all about being at the crossroads of digital content creation, sponsoring and enabling it.
BlogTalkRadio is an interesting hybrid of an Internet radio station and a blogging/social media site. Their coverage at South By Southwest, sponsored by Pepsi, includes Digital SpeakEasy – a program that highlights what’s new in digital and social media, and Podcast Playground – a place where people can actually record and stream podcasts from SXSW. I’ve noticed a bunch of tweets about Podcast Playground on Twitter the past couple of days, so if the goal is to create buzz, they must be happy.
Bough said the sponsorship of BlogTalkRadio is a way for Pepsi to connect with its customer base in a way that’s very different than a banner click. Twitter, Web Radio, Facebook, You Tube are places where Pepsi is experimenting, according to Bough. Evaluation of these media is not based on a strict click through evaluation, but more focused on connections rather than impressions. “The upside is the potential relationship that we can build,” he says.
It’s great to see Pepsi exploring Internet radio at such a visible venue, and to see BlogTalkRadio creating the kind of unique sponsorships that got Pepsi involved. No doubt other advertisers are taking notice.