7/1/13: Webcaster Songza adds $0.99/week ad-free premium option

Paul Maloney
July 1, 2013 - 1:40pm

Songza, the pureplay webcaster that offers the listener curated music streams based on their moods and current activities, is launching a $0.99/week premium version of its service, "Club Songza."

The subscription version of Songza is ad-free and offers twice as many "song skips" as the free, ad-supported version. It's also available on the web and mobile devices alike.

Songza CEO and co-founder Elias Roman told TechCrunch the move was a response to listener demand.

The ad-supported option will remain for Songza's nearly five million monthly active users, the company reports. Songza is available in the U.S. and Canada only.

To compare with Songza (about $4.30/month), Pandora's ad-free/higher-quality audio Pandora One service is $3.99/month, but only $36 for the entire year (so, $3/month for those willing to commit). Pandora listeners who listen for free on mobile devices are given the option of paying $0.99 for usage above the 40-hour/month cap. Apple's forthcoming iTunes Radio will be ad-free for iTunes Match customers, who pay $24.99/year (slightly more than $2/month). Premium versions of on-demand services like Spotify and MOG begin at $4.99/month (but those don't include mobile apps).

According to Hypebot (here), last week Songza also partnered with the Home Shopping Network to provide background music for the site's msotly older female shoppers. The deal includes HSN.com, with 12 million unique visitors monthly, Ballard Designs, Frontgate, and Garnet Hill.

Read more in TechCrunch here.

Paul Maloney
July 1, 2013 - 1:40pm

Last week author, GigaOm Pro analyst, and Rutgers University SC&I assistant professor Aram Sinnreich gave a webinar on webcasting and digital music -- with a focus on Pandora and the coming emergence of Apple iTunes Radio.

Included in his slides, which are now available online, are "Strategic Position" breakdowns for both Pandora and iTunes Radio. He also included a visual depiction of how money flows from consumers through services to owners and creators (similar to the Future of Music Coalition's graphics here).

See Sinnreich's slides here.

Paul Maloney
July 1, 2013 - 1:40pm

"We've lost the genius of the great DJ, the human who exposes us to new music, who takes us on a trip every Sunday night," writes commentator Joshua Fruhlinger, feeling nostalgic for bygone on-air musical tour guides like KROQ's legendary Rodney Bingenheimer.

But it's not just the dearth of great DJs in broadcast radio. Fruhlinger says Internet radio that creates listening experiences algorithmically are "inhuman." Not in the literal sense (though that's true too), but in the sense they lack the capriciousness and serendipity that a human-guided listening experience entails.

He writes: "Imagine if we replaced, say, chefs with machines. 'We noticed you like cheeseburgers. Here, have a bacon cheeseburger.' That's a fair assumption, but when I eat a cheeseburger, I want fries. Sometimes I want a salad instead. People are weird like that, and no machine can take me from The Vaccines to Neil Diamond."

Fruhlinger is an Engadget editor whose blog "This Is the Modern World" explores "the culture of consumer technology." Read the piece here.

Paul Maloney
July 1, 2013 - 1:40pm

Clear Channel has launched its iHeartRadio app for Windows Phone 8 app. For two weeks beginning today, iHeartRadio will be featured in Microsoft's "Summer of Appiness" campaign, which encourages customers to visit their local Microsoft retail store to experience the latest version of the app.

More than 1,500 live radio station streams are available on iHeartRadio (in addition to Clear Channel-owned broadcasters, the app also includes streams from Univision, Cumulus, Greater Media stations, WNYC, EMF's Contemporary Christian Air1 and K-Love stations, college radio, Cox, Emmis, Salem and others). It also offers user-created "Custom Stations" and Songza-like "Perfect For" mood-related stations. Clear Channel has recently added what it calls the "Discovery Tuner" to iHeartRadio. With it, the listener can adjust a Custom Station to play more familiar songs, or select "Less Familiar" to play a wider variety (we've seen this type of "slider" control with SiriusXM's MySXM and Slacker).

The new Windows Phone 8 app will enable users to pin stations directly to the phone's Start screen as Live Tiles for quick launch, and will allow users to view what's playing without opening the app.