6/6/13: Pandora dips, most b'dcasters grow online listening in April

Paul Maloney
June 6, 2013 - 12:05pm

Industry leading webcaster Pandora saw its April Average Active Sessions (the online radio equivalent of Average Quarter Hour) fall 7% March to April, in the first full month of its 40-hour/month cap on free mobile listening. Meanwhile, most of the top streaming broadcast groups saw double-digit AAS growth in April.

Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics Top 20 rankers for April were released yesterday.

While Pandora's listening was down a bit, broadcast groups like Clear Channel, Cumulus, and CBS Radio all enjoyed 11%-13% AAS bumps in April. Clear Channel (which has the iHeartRadio online radio platform) is up 42% over the past twelve months, and up 21% in 2013 alone. Only Cox among the top broadcast streamers was down in April, 12%. While Cox's AAS is down 10% so far this year, it's still grown 21% since April 2012. Note that Cox recently sold several clusters in markets like Birmingham, Richmond, south Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisville, and Greenville -- and this ratings period reflects the loss of that listening.

Internet radio pureplay Slacker continues its streak, up another 11% in April (and 40% in 2013). And the online-only webcaster idobi, which seemingly came out of nowhere in November to join the ranks of the top pureplays in Webcast Metrics, also got a 10% AAS bump in April.

These numbers, by the way, all come from the 6a-12a, Monday through Sunday "Domestic" ranking (see the chart below). A former top pureplay in that ranking, Digitally Imported, is now the top pureplay and second only to Clear Channel on the "All Streams" ranker (which takes non-U.S. listening into account). (Note that Pandora is not a part of this ranking.)

Pandora instituted its listening cap to temper its sound recording royalty expenditure. Since advertisers aren't paying as much for mobile ad impressions, the webcaster monetizes ad-supported mobile listening at a significantly lower rate than on desktop computers. Listeners who hit the cap can pay 99-cents to listen for the rest of the month, or purchase the Pandora One subscription to listen commercial-free (about $36 a year).

Apparently, a good number of listeners are doing exactly this. Pandora added more than 700-thousand new subscribers to its Pandora One service in its first quarter this year, up 114% to more than two-and-a-half million (and more net new subscribers in the quarter than in all of fiscal 2013) (see RAIN here). Pandora now also has the top-grossing "non-game" app in Apple's App Store (more here).

You can see Triton Digital's full April 2013 Webcast Metrics Top 20 rankers here. RAIN's coverage of the March 2013 ratings is here.

Paul Maloney
June 6, 2013 - 12:05pm

London-based 7digital is releasing its "DMCA-compliant" music streaming platform to would-be U.S. webcasters. Turntable.fm's Piki service (more in RAIN here) is already using the 7digital service to stream.

7digital provides its digital music store and other related services to consumer electronics companies like Samsung and music services like Turntable.fm.

The company's streaming radio API is meant to make it easy to launch an Internet radio service that adheres to the restrictions of the U.S. law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. (The law limits the ways in which "non-interactive" services can present and make music available to consumers.) The streaming API also affords access to 7digital's full catalog of more than 25 million tracks of licensed music.

7digital thinks there's real appeal to consumers and a growing market for curated, "non-interactive, DMCA-compliant" services -- that is, Internet radio.

The company's president for North America Vickie Nauman told TechCrunch, "It's such a great lean-back experience and we’ve been watching the marketplace and we feel that the partners that we have that are doing really well, combined with the need people have for a really easy way to listen to their music have led us to decide that this year we're really going to focus on radio."

7digital CEO and founder Ben Drury spoke at the recent RAIN Summit Europe conference in Brussels. Hear audio of the entire conference with SoundCloud. The links are in the right-hand margin of kurthanson.com.

Read more in TechCrunch here.

Paul Maloney
June 6, 2013 - 12:05pm

Online radio/on-demand music service Slacker has launched what it calls a better and more advanced way to measure how listeners engage with the music they're streaming.

Billboard charts, long the industry's go-to for measuring song popularity, until recently were based solely on sales of music. Other charts evolved to reflect only broadcast radio play. But today, music listeners don't buy as much music as they used to, nor do they listen solely to AM/FM for music -- instead streaming it from on-demand sources or Internet radio. The Slacker EQ Score reflects a song's popularity based on "millions of data points" every week, "in a world where access to music is quickly trumping ownership," as the company describes it. 

Each song is give a score from 1-100, based on specific positive and negative actions listeners take when hearing the song, which include: "Starts" (the number of times a song was started on Slacker), "Completes" (the number of times a song was listened to in its entirety), "Hearts" (the number of times a user "hearts" a track, requesting to hear it more frequently), plus "Shares" on social media, "Skips," Station changes during a song or "Bans" the song or artist.

Weekly charts will rank the 40 "most engaging songs" from across the service (from which Slacker has also generated a listenable online radio station), plus six genre-specific rankings for Pop, Rock, Country, Hip Hop/R&B, Alternative/Indie and Electronic/Dance. Slacker will publish the rankings every Thursday beginning today.

Alternative rock band Imagine Dragons topped Slacker's inaugural Top 40 chart with their song "Radioactive." Pop artists Justin Timberlake and Icona Pop and Country artists Randy Houser and Easton Corbin were also in the top five. See this week's charts and read more in Slacker's blog here. You can see the full-size Slacker image here.

Paul Maloney
June 6, 2013 - 12:05pm

More than a third (34%) of respondents in a GroupM Next study say they would immediately switch from their current Internet radio provider to a new Apple service, sight-unseen. Just barely under half (49%) say they'd at least be interested in checking out the still-unreleased Apple Net radio, dubbed "iRadio" by the tech press.

AdWeek reports, "The GroupM Next study concluded that Apple's radio service could be 'potentially disastrous' for its Internet radio competitors, because of the likelihood of current Internet radio users jumping ship to Apple's service." (We weren't able to find out anything about the one-thousand respondents. Were they Apple product owners? iTunes customers? Simply self-described Internet radio listeners?)

GroupM Next's Jesse Wolfersberger wrote, "Consumers express faith in a product experience that steps outside of Apple's mainstream product offering, based on brand name alone. Apple has the competition to thank — Pandora, iHeartRadio, Spotify and others — for delivering a marketplace and services that have gained adoption the world over... Should Apple decide to flip the switch on this product, it will be an absolute game-changer in the digital audio market, and likely another big win for Apple."

Read more in AdWeek here.

Paul Maloney
June 6, 2013 - 12:05pm

Speaking at the World Creators Summit in Washington, D.C., U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante confirmed "Provid(ing) a full public performance right for sound recordings" -- assumed by some to mean broadcast radio royalties for records -- is a policy priority of the U.S. Copyright Office.

In October of 2011 the Copyright Office officially stated terrestrial radio royalties were a priority for the next two years, basing the argument on the need for parity with other services like Internet radio.

"There is an economic disadvantage between the businesses that offer sound recordings over the Internet as compared to those that offer them over the air (the former are required to pay performance royalties while the latter are not)," read the "Priorities and Special Projects" paper released in October 2011 (see more in RAIN here). "Finding a way to reconcile these differences has been a long-standing goal of Congress and the Copyright Office, and the Office will continue to provide analysis and support on this important issue."

Earlier this year Pallante pledged to work towards copyright law reform, focusing specifically on the DMCA (which is the primary law governing Internet radio's use of copyright sound recordings). See more in RAIN here.

The Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Judiciary held its first hearing on comprehensive copyright review last month (see RAIN here).