Boston based Echo Nest has announced that they will provide the intelligence behind Clear Channel’s more interactive online music platform. The Echo Nest platform maintains over 5 billion data points on over 30 million songs, including understanding of artist connections, song similarity, mood, style and detailed acoustic attributes (tempo, energy, danceability, time signature, key) to offer users a fully personalized radio feature.
Clear Channel will integrate this data system into its iHeartradio online music platform. It’s part of the big revitalization of the platform that has been in the works since Bob Pittman came to Clear Channel earlier in the year. Shortly after he arrived, Clear Channel announced a purchase of Thumbplay, a mobile streaming platform. In July, Pittman and Clear Channel announced the advent of the “new iHeartradio” complete with an enormous live concert event later this month.
So now we’re getting more details on exactly how iHeartradio will be new. Pittman has promised a more “Pandora” like experience for listeners. “Adding The Echo Nest’s data to iHeartRadio’s programming logic enables us to offer our consumers a rich, rewarding experience that scales with our massive library of over eleven million songs,” said Evan Schwartz, who is leading the development of iHeartRadio.
“Our collaboration with Clear Channel brings the most advanced music intelligence platform to iHeartRadio, enabling its fans to customize their listening experience,” said Jim Lucchese, CEO of The Echo Nest. “We’re excited to work with Clear Channel to put this level of music understanding in the hands of so many music fans.”
I’ve figured that Clear Channel was looking at Echo Nest or a similar service to power their more interactive streaming service. It enables them to give listeners a lot more choice and flexibility in their listening experience, something that the success of Pandora is built on.
Nielsen Entertainment recently expanded its coverage of music streaming measurement, adding several key streaming platforms to its streaming panel. Newly added services include Vevo, Slacker, MOG, Thumbplay, Akoo, and Cricket. Data from these services, and from the existing reporting panel consisting of AOL, Napster, Rhapsody, Verizon Wireless and Yahoo! will appear in Nielsen’s BDS reports.
Nielsen Entertainment produces reports on lots of activity related to the music industry – Nielsen BDS monitors music played on radio stations in the US, Canada, Europe and Mexico. Nielsen SoundScan reports on physical and digital song sales. They provide lots of insight into things like what songs people listen to and buy, which it sells to radio programmers, record companies, etc. Sources like Billboard produce their reports from this data.
During the first six weeks of 2011, Nielsen tracked more than 1.1 billion music streams through online music streaming services. More than 165 million streams per week are captured and nearly 26 million weekly song downloads are tracked. That is a lot of streaming music activity.
According to their press release, Nielsen is the only company able to provide weekly trending information on streaming activity, as well as a more granular understanding of from where consumers stream music. Nielsen also provides insights on the type of streams; on-demand streams, those songs/videos that consumers choose to listen to, versus programmed streams, or when songs are not chosen by the consumer.
As music streaming activity and digital downloads increase while physical song sales sink, streaming’s importance is growing as an important measure of who is listening to what. I expect we’ll see the list of streaming music platforms in their panel to continue to grow.
Mobile music service Thumbplay has signed up over half a million trial accounts since it launched in March. Thumbplay offers unlimited music streaming for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99.
The downloads are for an initial free trial period, and although Thumbplay won’t say what their conversion is, Techcrunch points out that even at just 10% conversion that is $500,000 a month in revenues.
That sounds like a business model to me.
Some more interesting info on the service. Ninety percent of the use is on smartphones, although Thumbplay does offer a desktop app as well. Most of the subscribers are male, 25-34 years old. 39% of smartphone listening is on iPhone, 36% on Blackberry, and 25% on Android. Thumbplay’s one of the top 100 free apps in the iPhone app store.
And their promotional video/take off on an infomercial is amusing too.